I kept hearing about this book on Goodreads so I put in my request at the library. The majority of the book is set in the WW II era, one of my preferred time periods, and it’s set in and around Upton England .
We start with a busload of people evacuating Southhampton, heading to the rural town of Upton during WW II. Ellen Parr notices a small girl sleeping on the bus after everyone departs. Whose child is this? Where is her mother? Ellen gathers the little girl in her arms and makes inquiries of the women but no one claims her. The girl, Pamela, was separated from her mother during an air raid.
There are some scenes that are so heartbreaking that it put me in mind of The Light Between the Oceans. I could actually quote the beginning of that book’s review for this one and it would be appropriate. ” This book is filled with sadness and loss. There are happy moments but even those are shadowed by secrets and wrong doing…”
This novel spans decades but the majority focuses on the early 1940’s time period. Ellen and her husband Selwyn take in the evacuees, some children stay longer than the adults. When no one claims Pamela it’s Ellen’s hope that she and Selwyn may keep her. The circumstances are well explained in this book but I wouldn’t want to reveal spoilers.
Ellen’s back story is revealed after a hundred pages and believe me, you may want the tissues handy. Actually, you just feel so bad for Ellen yet admire her inner strength. This is a fat book of 450 or so pages and I read it in 3 days time. The characters are well developed, you’d feel as if you known them. The deprivation is keenly described.
Three quarters into the book it slows down a bit but I was never tempted to abandon this story. I would read more by this author.
There are references to food but not often. Lots of tea, bread, Rock Cakes, a meat pie, baked onions, potato pie, rissoles and a treacle tart. One the dessert side of things I decided to make a peach cobbler. After so much deprivation I wanted excess. We even had Blanton’s bourbon with it. Now that’s decadent. 🙂