The Indomitable Spirit
Girls In Tin Hats by Annie Murray is a powerful historical tale that will break your heart whilst simultaneously filling it with love and admiration.
The novel is set in Small Heath in Birmingham during the early years of World War II. It is a close-knit community with some big personalities. People were poor, living in back-to-backs, food was rationed but they shared all they had and helped where they could. People were in and out of each other’s homes as the spirit of community was alive and well.
Birmingham suffered dreadfully during the Blitz. It is a well-known fact that much of Coventry was destroyed on the night of 14th November 1940 but Birmingham also suffered, being bombed night after night. (Incidentally my Dad who lived in Birmingham at the time kept a notebook of bombing raids, it makes for fascinating reading) The indomitable spirit of the Birmingham people could not be kept down.
We follow the wardens on their nightly duties. They keep others safe as they walk the streets whilst the bombs fall. They see sights that no one should have to see.
Horrifying And Heart Breaking
Mother And Child by Annie Murray is a powerful contemporary novel exploring parenthood, loss and friends.
As with many of Annie Murray’s novels, the story is set mainly in my hometown of Birmingham. The locations are familiar to me – I have been to Lodge Hill cemetery, Dudley Zoo, Wythall and more – knowing the locations enhanced my reading experience. I am even familiar with the location of Sainsburys in the book!
The novel is set in 2014 around a couple whose only son was killed by a drunk driver two years before the book opens. Their loss and devastation is keenly felt. In order to help with the healing process, the couple have moved house as the story opens.
A photo in a magazine showing the Bhopal disaster of 1984 (which I remember) awakens a passion in a character to make a difference. As a heart looks beyond self, inner healing begins.
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.