A Beautiful Friendship
The Memory Box by Kathryn Hughes is the most beautiful and heart wrenching dual timeline novel that I never wanted to end.
The story is set in present day and during the second world war. The reader follows the fortunes of care worker Candice and one hundred year old Jenny who shares her story. There is a beautiful bond between the two lead characters, as if they were grandmother and granddaughter. They both have so much love to give.
There is the difficult topic of a toxic relationship where a character is manipulated and controlled bit by bit. This is sensitively portrayed as we see the need to get out before being totally consumed.
The war years see the reader travel from Manchester to Wales to Italy as the war takes various turns. We witness the bravery of civilians everywhere and also of the partisans in Italy. We see that not all Germans were Nazis. There were still some willing to take risks to do the right thing.
Regrets have travelled down the years. They are heavy burdens to carry as a character needs to make a pilgrimage to lay the ghosts of the past to rest.
Kind Hearts And Hands
The Red Cross Orphans by Glynis Peters is a marvellous historical novel set during World War II on the home front. I was completely consumed by the whole novel.
The reader follows the main character as she volunteers to be a Red Cross nurse. She journeys from Harwich to Birmingham up to Scotland and back down to County Durham. I loved that she did her training at the Q.E. in Birmingham as I am familiar with that hospital in my home town. None of the Red Cross postings are long term as the nurses go where they are most needed. I admired her bravery, sense of duty and strong stomach as there were some awful scenes during the Birmingham blitz.
There is a wonderful camaraderie between the three young recruits in Birmingham. Bonds formed are strong and friendships loyal.
There is a warmth within the novel as characters pull together to help the injured. Life is to be grabbed as there is no guarantee of tomorrow. This means that whilst there are still strong morals on the whole, there will always be those who play fast and free.
An Epic Read
When Christmas Bells Ring by Katie Flynn is a historical wartime saga that compels you to read on from the start.
The story is mainly set in Liverpool from 1932-1948 and centres on twins April and May born in 1932. They are delightful but also a handful as they love each other fiercely but also fight like cat and dog. Katie Flynn explores the bond that twins have. It is an invisible thread that unites across space and time. (I can confirm this bond as I have twin brothers who are three years younger).
War for the twins really begins as they are evacuated to Wales. The countryside is in complete contrast to Liverpool but Liverpool is where their Mum and Grandma are, so there is a strong emotional pull. As the twins grow older they learn to appreciate the countryside.
Liverpool suffered from raids by German bombers. There is a truly harrowing scene that I found upsetting to read. The atmosphere of terror and horror was perfectly captured by Katie Flynn.
There is a community atmosphere within the novel – amongst the poor of Liverpool, in the countryside and within the armed forces. People came together right where they were for the war effort.
A Winter’s Wish For The Cornish Midwife by Jo Bartlett is a charming contemporary novel. It is the third book in the Cornish Midwife series but can be read as a stand-alone.
The reader follows the midwife team at the community unit in Port Agnes. We share the highs and lows, the worries and the celebrations.
All aspects of babies are covered as there are the sensitive topics of infertility, handicap and fostering. The reader’s heart breaks for some of the situations of the characters. The midwife team are supportive to all.
There is the theme of loss as some characters are frozen in a moment in time. There is the guilt associated with beginning to live and to smile again. There is also some emotional blackmail to deal with.