The Museum of Broken Promises

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 14 Aug 2019

Member Reviews

A beautiful book. Beautiful, shocking, harrowing in turn. 
Laure and Tomas meet and fall in love in Prague, during the last period of the destructive, totalitarian Communist rule of  Czechoslovakia. .  
This is a story of the violence they live through - read it! It’s unmissable.
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Lauren is the curator and creator of the Museum  of Broken  Promises in Paris.  But what prompted her to set it up?  We need to go back to Communist Prague to find out why.
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An unusual and carefully crafted book. The story moves from Paris to Prague, and back again frequently and so needs some concentration. This is repaid with a beautiful and thoughtful love story.
Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for the ARC
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Laure Carlyle’s father has passed away and she is devastated by her loss. She agrees to take a proactive year out to take her mind off her misery. She becomes the nanny to Czech businessman Petr Kobe, his wife and two lovely children now stationed in Prague. It’s 1985 and life behind the Iron Curtain is dull, dangerous and darkly desperate. There are agents and spies around every corner, just everywhere. Ruled by Communists, but with dissidents working ‘behind closed doors’, rebelling about their country’s system of government, Laure finds herself in grave danger when she falls in love with Tomas, a musician who is part of a dissident community, participating under the guise of puppeteers and musicians. She soon becomes ‘known’ and suddenly she is powerless to escape her romance and the terrifying thrill it brings with it. Her life and the lives of her new friends is about to change and the danger she has wreaked with her passionate love affair alters her future and the futures of others forever.
Years later and now settled in Paris, Laure has founded a modern day museum. She is a beautiful and very successful business woman, but is still haunted by her past. The museum holds an ever changing collection of items that their owner has donated to put on display and tells their story of betrayal. Laure starts the displays with items of her own, reflecting their sad story. The items donated are an eclectic mix, spread out in themed rooms throughout the whole museum. These items always reflect unforgotten ghosts of the past that must be laid to rest. It’s a place full of stories, memories and more often than not unhappiness, but sometime resolution as well. It is funded by anonymous benefactors and visited by tourists from all over the world who examine the exhibits with care and compassion. There are wedding veils, travel tickets, a baby’s lone shoe and many more poignant items. Laure’s own items are hidden in plain sight but she still has not come to terms with what happened to her all those years ago in Prague.
This is very much Laure’s own story told in dual time frame, where truths must be revealed before she is freed from her guilt, and will be able to  live her life without the shadows of the past crippling her. It’s a poignant story about first true love set against the exceptionally dark days of dictatorship and a romance that was doomed from the word ‘Go’. I have really enjoyed other novels by this author and I was excited when I was accepted to review ‘The Museum of Broken Promises', but for me it did not always live up to my expectations. The storytelling was fine but I didn’t connect with any of the characters; they stayed in the distance and I was unable to relate to them. I had been intrigued by the blurb but the novel was not what I had expected it to be, it didn’t deliver with the impact that I had hoped for.
I received this book through my membership of NetGalley and from publisher Atlantic Books in return for an honest review. Thank you for my copy. I quite liked parts of the novel but disliked other parts for the reasons I have already mentioned. It’s a 3.5* review from me.
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Set in Prague, Paris and Berlin, The Museum of Broken Promises is a tragic tale of lost love, betrayal and the redemptive power of forgiveness. Laure works as an au pair for the Kobes family in Prague at a time of political unrest. She meets Tomas and his friends who are political dissidents and falls for Tomas in a way that frightens her for she is never completely convinced his love is genuine and she fears that love will lead to humiliation. As we jump from the present to the past and observe their story we gain a deeper understanding of why Laure opened her Museum of Broken Promises - it offers a space to begin again'. 

As political unrest becomes dangerous, Laure asks Tomas to leave Prague with her, but he doesn't make it and Laure is haunted by the uncertainty of what happened to him. As her former employer Petr Kobe returns into her life she is finally able to lay the ghost of Tomas to rest and forgive both herself and others for the past and the decisions that led to such a tragic outcome. 

This book is atmospheric and beautifully written, seamlessly taking us forwards and backwards from the present to the past. Original and thought provoking, and after all, 'which one of us has not experienced a broken promise in our lives?'
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Wonderful and haunting, this is the story of Laure and her time in Prague in the 1980's. Even though I know little about this period in history, this book really appealed to me and I’m so pleased that I gave it a go. There were two reasons why I knew I wanted to read this novel – the first, because I knew from past experience that Elizabeth Buchan is a talented and accomplished story-teller. The second was because the concept of a museum dedicated to artefacts which represent loss, grief and broken promises was really fascinating. 

Laure now lives in Paris and is the curator of the Museum of Broken Promises, a place where people bring items that reflect a promise which was made to them but was then broken. Through these artefacts and via interviews with a journalist, the reader starts to learn about Laure's past and the circumstances that have led her to this point in her life.

The writing is beautiful and the story memorable and noteworthy and I'm certain that this is one of those books that will remain with me. I recommend The Museum of Broken Promises, without hesitation, to anyone who is partial to historical or literary fiction.

I received a complimentary copy of this novel from Corvus via NetGalley at my own request. This review is my own unbiased opinion. Thank you also to Pigeonhole and Elizabeth Buchan for giving me the opportunity to read this book!
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I found this book quite hard going in parts. The setting, Prague during the final few years of the communist regime, was interesting but I found some sections a bit long winded. 
The descriptions of the locations are great and I liked some of the characters but some bits just didn’t ring true. Laure takes the children to a marionette show which the authorities know is run by ‘subversives’ and yet Petr and Eva seem fine with them going, even though it is clear from the outset that Petr is very much part of the regime. You would expect that a man in his position would have sent her packing. The idea that he would be ruled by his feelings for her seem a bit far fetched. 
The plot promises much but I was a little disappointed. It seems to fall between a hard hitting examination of communism during this period and a romance and ultimately falls short on both counts. 
I did enjoy it and it is well written but not one of my favourites. 
My thanks to Netgalley, the author and publisher for this copy.
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The Museum of Broken Promises by Elizabeth Buchan is a gorgeous, well written love story and I enjoyed every moment.

The story has two settings - firstly it is set in the Paris of today at the Museum of Broken Promises where unusual and important objects have been donated each with a tragic back story. The museum is looked after by Laure.

The second setting is Prague, 1985 during the Cold War where we follow a young Laure who has fled there after her fathers' death. The city is a dangerous place but Laure cannot help falling in love and this relationship will be the most dangerous thing of all...

I don't want to say any more as its best to not know anything but suffice to say this is a beautiful life affirming book and I adored it with all my heart and soul

I received copies from both Netgalley and Readers first in exchange for an honest review.
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Sometimes I catch sight of a new book I just have to read as soon as possible. It doesn’t happen often and it’s always a leap of faith; will a favourite author dash my expectation of brilliance – or will they, once again, triumph. 

Elizabeth Buchan’s The Museum of Broken Promises is, like her other books, a slow starter. I have learnt to be patient while she creates a tapestry of detail so rich and wonderful, holding my breath until to story tips into second, third and fourth gears and becomes unputdownable.

The book is set in Paris in the present day and in Prague in the 1980s. The end of the Cold War was in touching distance, yet nobody knew it, and this adds an additional poignancy to the narrative. Laure, a young woman coming to terms with the death of her father is an au pair to a businessman and party insider, and while trying to make some sense of life behind the Iron Curtain, meets a dissident musician who steals her heart and soul. Years later in France, she sets up the Museum of Broken Promises, full of artefacts people donate in attempt to avenge or assuage the pain of betrayal – and some of them belong to her own past.

Slowly the book teases out truths from a long ago Czechoslovakian summer. One moment achingly beautiful, the other shocking in its violence, the whole fits together like a handmade glove. It stayed with me, too – and it’s only now I’m writing this review I finally understand the most important promise. And who broke it. A must read. Honestly. 

This review will appear in Frost magazine on 30th September.
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I would absolutely visit this museum!
This is a story about a museum that contains the physical objects that symbolise a broken promise or a betrayal to those who have donated them (and this is SUCH a good idea for a museum!). The Museum of Broken Promises is in Paris, and its owner Laure chooses the items that go in to the museum after she either speaks to the donator, or simply reads the note that is sent with the item. Laure has experience in these matters: her own object sits in the museum.

I don’t know what I was expecting from this novel, but I was so surprised by the way this story progressed. Laure as a young woman becomes an au pair for a Czech family in Paris after her father dies. She then realises that she needs a break from university to grieve and get away from her life for a while. So when the family return to Prague for the summer, Laure goes with them. And so begins her life behind the iron curtain.

What follows is a love story between Laure and a musician and political activist, Tomas. We see how restricted people and their thoughts were, and we see why Laure becomes the woman she is in present day Paris.

I really liked the way we moved back and forth through time with Laure, and got to see Prague before its Velvet Revolution, Germany just after the Wall comes down and Paris in the present day. Laure is far more complex a character than I expected her to be at first.

I adored this book. It’s a sad story told so well - and I warn you that the end should be read with tissues to hand.

Many thanks to the publisher Corvus and NetGalley for my copy of this book.
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This novel takes us to the streets of modern day Paris, Communist Prague and post-Cold War Berlin and Prague. What really drew me in is the hauntingly beautiful idea for a museum of 'broken promises' - all the items have been donated by people who have experienced great loss or betrayal through a broken promise.

Items such as a ticket stubs, a wedding veil, shoes and clothes for a young child, and a black antique phone hold stories of a wealth of hidden promises. Buchan lets us glimpse the weight of the losses behind these objects: telling us little stories within the bigger story. While the love story running throughout the novel captivates us with its passion and danger, it was these little windows into a heartbreaking moments that really stole my heart. I actually could have done with more of those stories, and the story therefore meandered a bit for me after the strong, intriguing start.
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I was looking forward to reading a variety of stories from the pieces donated to the museum and this didn’t happen, so maybe a somewhat misleading title. However, the love story based in Prague during communist rule was disturbing and one that brought home just how recent those problems are and this is the concept that I will always remember.  It reinforces my view that history and recent history is brought to life more vividly through the medium of well researched fact based fiction than any number of history classes taught at school. This is a concept that underpinned my buying of most fiction in the Further Education libraries I worked in and this particular novel would be a cert for the history department! 
The writing is, of course, well done by such an accomplished novelist but I did find it a bit of a chore at times and took a break half way through for a quick easy read (a sort of readers sorbet) before being able to complete. 
Thank you author, publisher and Netgalley for the opportunity to read this for an unbiased review.
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A well written beautifully planned out novel. A little long, but a must-read nonetheless. POetic and atmospheric you are transported back to time and place. Full of intrigue, thrills and suspense. Recommended
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This is such a moving story combining  present day Paris with 1980s Prague during the Cold War and 1990s Berlin after the removal of the Berlin Wall.  It follows the life of Laure Carlyle from being an au pair in Prague, to being a British Embassy employee in Berlin and then to being the curator of the Museum of Broken Promises in Paris.  

I thought this was a wonderfully written book. It’s quite powerful in its telling as well as being interesting and thought provoking.    It’s also well researched.  Life behind the Iron Curtain is so very vividly described and depicted, I was easily transported.  What a fearful time it must’ve been to be constantly looking over your shoulder!  The sense of oppression would’ve been so strong.  The characters are well drawn and realistic.  I was totally immersed in their stories.  I loved the idea of the museum.  It seemed a brilliant concept, exhibiting objects which symbolised a terrible grief or betrayal.  It was a type of therapy or ‘letting go’ for those who donated.

It’s a story of love, treachery, faith, survival and forgiveness - very much a page turner.  It did bring a tear to my eye at the end as it’s quite an emotional tale.  It’s the first book I’ve read by Elizabeth Buchan and it won’t be my last.  Highly recommended.
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I desperately wanted to love this. It sounded so amazing! But unfortunately I just could not get into it. Like another reviewer said, I just kept falling asleep! I don't know why, I just couldn't make myself interested. Maybe I was in the wrong headspace, and I might prefer it if I tried again in the future. But for me, it just wasn't anywhere near keeping my interest. A shame, as it had a very interesting premise.
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With thanks to Net Gallery and the publishers for the opportunity to read this.

This is the story of Laure and her time in Prague in 1986.  I'll be honest I don't know much about this period in history but this is the second book I have read recently set in that period so I think may be I need to do a bit of reading up around it.  

Laure now lives in Paris and is the curator of the Museum of Broken Promises, a place where people bring items that reflect a promise which was made to them and broken.  For an example which will not deflect from the story, there is a tooth because the Dad said there was a tooth fairy and then no money was put under the pillow (What parent hasn't don't this?!!!!).  Through these items and interviews with a journalist we start to learn about Laure's past and what has led her to this point in her life.

The writing is beautiful and the story haunting and I'm certain that this is one of those books that just stays with you and (this sounds very gushy) changes you a little.
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This is a complex, emotional, thought provoking and intelligent read. It begins in the present day with Laure at her museum of broken promises in Paris. An intriguing idea for a museum where exhibits are donated by individuals who feel their chosen object represents a broken promise. I love the idea of this and it is central to the theme which alternates between the present day Laure,curator of the museum and to the time she was nanny to a family in Prague during the Cold War. It is a bleak novel in the sense that Laure has led a life consumed by guilt over a promise she broke years ago (which the reader will eventually discover). Bleak too as life in Prague is extremely hard especially for a young westernised woman, living in a society that watches your every move, a place you can trust no one. Laure works for Petr and Eva, the family living a more privileged life in relation to the majority since Petr works for the regime. He is a figure who is difficult to like for that very reason but the reader comes to understand that in many respects he is to be pitied as his life has followed an inevitable course, being a puppet of the state. He is in an impossible situation especially with wife Eva, who is mentally unwell and steadily declining since their return to Prague from Paris. This leaves Laure and Petr to form an uneasy and unusual relationship. 
It’s very difficult to imagine living in a place where the state dictates everything, having to be wary of those around you and trying not to draw any attention to yourself. Of course there are those who oppose the regime and it is one of those dissidents, Tomas, that Laure falls in love with, first encountering him at a marionette theatre. These marionettes play a huge part in cultural life and Laure is drawn to this place and the puppeteers who put on the performances.
Political and poignant, this is a love story between Laure and Tomas, naivety on Laure’s part for believing their relationship can survive the harsh regime as she has to flee the country when she becomes a person of interest, a liability for not only the small band of dissidents but for Petr and his family. Laure experiences the brutality of the regime, suffering a vicious attack whilst briefly incarcerated in prison but fails to truly appreciate how vital it is to feign ignorance and not talk. Tomas and his friends are passionate in their beliefs, ready to put their lives on the line, which the author portrays eloquently. It is also a love story between Laure and Petr, complicated, unrequited and finally making me lose any sympathy I possibly felt for him although read this and you can decide for yourself! 
The ending is very emotional and whilst this novel probably wouldn’t be my usual kind of read, I can fully appreciate the author’s heartfelt writing and it is definitely a book to make you think. Highly recommend and thanks as always to the author and publisher and Netgalley for allowing me to read ahead of publication.
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My thanks to Atlantic Books/Corvus for an eARC via NetGalley of Elizabeth Buchan’s ‘The Museum of Broken Promises’ in exchange for an honest review.

Today, Paris: The Museum of Broken Promises is unusual as every item on display has been donated and each represents a moment of grief or a terrible betrayal. People come to the museum to speak to their own ghosts and for some perhaps the opportunity to lay them to rest. Its owner and curator, Laure, has her own objects on display that reflect her painful youth.

A visit from a young American journalist, who wishes to interview Laure, triggers in her contemplation of this hidden past.

Following the death of her father in 1985, Laure had moved from Paris to Prague working as an au pair for a Czech family. She is quite naive and isn’t prepared for life behind the Iron Curtain. She clearly doesn’t understand the political currents that run below the surface. Then she meets Tomas, a charismatic young dissident, who changes her life forever.

Elizabeth Buchan unfolds the story slowly moving between the older Laure, who has clearly been damaged by life, and her younger self in Prague. On occasion we also visit Laure in 1990s Berlin where she now works for the British Embassy. 

Buchan has masterfully captured life in Cold War Czechoslovakia as well as in Berlin after the Fall of the Berlin Wall. Laure emerges as a complex character, who has experienced both love and loss. Over the course of the novel she reveals her soul to us.

It is very much a European novel that highlights key social and political changes through the experiences of a woman with a mixed British and French background. 

I found it a melancholic novel, shocking in places as it highlights the brutality of life in Cold War Czechoslovakia but also uplifting. Laure’s friendship with members of a marionette theatre troupe introduces some fairytale symbolism in the form of the story of Sleeping Beauty into the narrative.

This is the first novel by Elizabeth Buchan that I have read and I was deeply impressed by her skill in weaving such a compelling and complex story with characters that came vividly alive on the page.
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Somewhat cliche( common elements one has read in countless books covering communism), the ever present love interest and somewhat of a happy ending(in the sens the almost all loose end are tied up by the end of the book) but for the life of me I couldn't keep a level head. The story really, really got to me, as in bawling my eyes out while reading the end...I guess you can say it really got to me as every story about communism did and always will!
Buchan managed to perfectly capture the complexity of life under a communist regime. A world where even the most innocent gesture can have/be seen as a politically charged one  and how hard to grasp it can be for a westerner. A world where the tyrant is also the victim; where everyone is distrustful of everyone else; where everything becomes laden with meaning. A world you want to escape yet you don't.
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I really enjoyed the depth of this book - intertwining two timelines to flesh out our main character, Laure, helped me better understand how she became her present day self, and what her motivations are behind opening the Museum of Broken Promises.

The flashbacks to Laure's time in Prague and development of the other characters during her stay there highlighted how no person is inherently good or evil - but a mixture of both - I.e.truly human.

Great historical fiction as this helped me better understand what going in in the Czech Republic in the 80s.

Thank you to Atlantic Books and Netgalley for the ARC!
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