• Paperback: 256 pages
• Publisher: Harper Paperbacks (July 12, 2016)
Three beautiful French sisters entrust an American hiker with the mission of rescuing their mother high in the Alps. But what if she doesn’t want to be found?
Recently fired from his high-power finance job and dumped by his fiancée, Jim Olsen has come to the Swiss Alps to clear his head. At the charming Cabane des Audannes, he meets Clio, Thalia and Helene Castellane, who are on a quest of their own: their mother, Calliope, has fled to these mountains to escape her philandering politician husband’s most recent scandal. As snow threatens to descend upon the Alps, the women have come to bring their mother home.
But the sisters are at the point of surrender; it is time for them to return to Paris. Buoyed by wine and inspired by their beauty, Jim impetuously volunteers to assume their search, but soon realizes that he is in over his head. The Alps are filled with beauty and danger, not the least of which is Calliope’s desire to stay hidden. And all the while Jim finds himself haunted by the memory of her daughters and conflicted in his desire for them.
The Runaway Wife is a story of adventure, survival, and romance—and of a man’s discovery of a world outside his conventional life and a new vision of himself within it.
About Elizabeth BirkelundElizabeth Birkelund is the author of one other French-inspired novel, The Dressmaker. As a freelance magazine journalist, Elizabeth was the personal finance columnist for Cosmopolitan and wrote for more than fifteen years for Working Woman, Self, and Glamour, among other publications. She lives in New York City. Connect with Elizabeth on Facebook.
Poor Jim Olsen. His mission to get over his bad break-up with his fiancée and clear his head before beginning a new job on Wall Street is completely derailed once he meets the three sirens in the guise of the formidable Castallane sisters. He and his friend Ambrose are seduced by their charms, and Jim agrees to a quest to find their missing mother Calliope. Their father is a powerful French politician in the midst of a Presidential campaign, and he needs his wayward wife by his side which explains the constant whir of rescue helicopters in the area. Jim isn't a very experienced hiker, and it's the end of the season. When he leaves the comfort of the hutte and blindly searches for Calliope, he has no idea what trials face him in the treacherous Swiss Alps.
I am in awe of Birkelund's ability to craft unique, well-drawn characters. I was so worried about Jim and his reckless decisions throughout the book. He becomes a lotus eater to Calliope 's Calypso: He is on a deadline to return to New York to start his new job, yet he becomes less and less concerned about making his flight the longer he's in Calliope's company. I must say that the duality of Calliope's character disappointed me in the end. I was really pulling for her as well as Jim. The ending is a wee bit ambiguous. I would like to know more, but overall I enjoyed Jim's adventure in the Alps which is chock-full of suspense, beautiful scenery and quirky characters.
Apparently the Swiss hutte where Jim and Ambrose meet the Castallane sisters really exists. This is a photo of La Cabane des Audannes.
Until next time...