The book description in the jacket caught my attention right off. Lately I have been reading novels set in England during the WW II era. This fictional narrative fell right into those categories. This is also the first book I’ve read by Jason Hewitt and I can safely say, it won’t be my last.
The story line takes place over a six day period with our two main characters slipping into frequent recollections to times past. You have the multiple narratives from 11-year old Lydia and a German soldier who hides out in her family’s home. Lydia is a young English girl who has just arrived in her hometown after running away from Wales. She was sent to Wales as an evacuee and hated it. In the very beginning of the story Lydia is walking the deserted streets of her village, wondering where everyone got off to. Finally she reaches her home, a large residence called Greyfriars, only to find it vacant and musty. Where is her mother? Where are her neighbors and merchants from the village? All of the livestock appears to have disappeared with the people.
Lydia holes up in her home trying to figure out what to do next when she hears someone moving about downstairs. It’s an injured German soldier, just as astonished to see a young girl in front of him as Lydia is to see him. He raises his gun toward her but doesn’t shoot, warning her to obey his rules or he will kill her. From then on you have altering perspectives and learn about Lydia’s life before the war. Same thing with the soldier called Heiden.
In the six days they spend together you learn about Heiden’s love for a woman named Eva. You get the flashbacks of his service in the German military, his education in England prior to the war and the perilous mission in Norway where life altering decisions are made. He shares very little with Lydia but through his memories you get to know him well.
As for Lydia you will come to know a brave little girl who paid attention to what her mother taught her about survival. She is diligent in her efforts to hide things from Heiden as she won’t outwardly help an enemy of England. As they spend more time together, cooped up in a house shuttered with blackout curtains and boards, they form a tentative alliance. They need each other…for the time being.
This story captured my attention straight away, hard to put down. I am looking forward to Hewitt’s next novel Devastation Road.