Daughter by Annie
Murray is a comprehensive historical novel set during World War I from 1915 in
Birmingham. As Birmingham is my home town, I loved knowing the familiar
locations. The Jewellery Quarter is well known to me as I have most of my rings
and earrings from there!
Daughter shows life
on the home front. We see the effects of war on the families left behind. World
War I was a slaughterhouse of young men who were merely cannon fodder. The
grief is palpable. “Her reaching out to God was like a howl that she felt from
the very core of her.” The grief hits and never goes away. Communities and
families drowned in grief.
There is the theme of single mothers. In 1915
unwed mothers and their children were seen as a source of shame. The Silversmith’s Daughter explodes this
myth as a character is surrounded by love. “This is a child, not a dirty
The Doorstep Child by Annie Murray is the third book in a fabulous historical series set in Birmingham. This novel has Evie at its heart and covers the years from 1950’s- 1970’s. It is absolutely heart breaking. My emotions have been torn apart.
Evie, whom the reader met in War Babies, was born in 1943, always unwanted and uncared for (she was the ‘wrong’ sex), Evie has searched to belong and be loved. Evie is a delightful character with a good heart, full of love. I know it’s just a story but I really wanted to give Evie a home!
The Doorstep Child is about family, community and love. It has the heart wrenching topics of illegitimate children and unmarried mothers and all the stigma that brings, homosexuality and mental health. The 1950’s, 60’s and 70’s really seem like the dark ages to the modern reader who is horrified at the attitudes and treatments.
Moving Into The Modern Era
Now The War Is Over by Annie Murray is a fabulous historical novel continuing on from where War Babies left off. It can be read as a stand-alone though.
Covering the years 1951-1962 in Birmingham, the book’s focus is on Melly who is nine in 1951. We experience life from her viewpoint. She is the same caring child she always was. A very likable and lovable character.
The world is moving into the modern age. The reader witnesses the social change. Inner city back to backs are abandoned for the more leafy suburbs and a semi detached. As the housing fell into disrepair so this is mirrored by community life which fractured in the suburbs as life was more isolated from ones neighbours.
Social Change And Community
War Babies by Annie Murray is a marvelous epic novel set in Birmingham during the 1930’s and the war years. It is a novel of a community – people “did not have much money, but they knew how to make a home.” A home is not about money, a home is about love. At times there can be more love found in a slum than a mansion.
There is a surprising amount of snobbery to found among some of the poor. It is character and the state of the heart that is the measure of a person not the size of their bank account.
Women and children are the main focus of the novel. The women had it tough. World War I had robbed some of them of husbands and fathers. A flu epidemic then stole their loved ones. World War II pinched the able bodied for war. The women bandied together, supported each other and survived.