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The Highland Girls At War by Helen Yendall

Pulling Together

The Highland Girls At War by Helen Yendall is a simply marvellous historical novel that gripped me from the start.

The action surrounds the lumberjills who were very much a part of the war effort during World War II. These are hard working young women who cut down and suppled the timber needed.

There is an eclectic mix of women – from a debutante to a widow to a married woman. These women from very different backgrounds all have to learn to work together as they face new challenges. There is a healthy rivalry with the Women’s Land Army.

We also meet a Canadian regiment of troops working the land but who have to be prepared to be mobilised.

The reader is treated to the fresh air in the Scottish forests. With comprehensive descriptions from Helen Yendall, we can practically smell the pine.

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Finding Friends On Beamer Street by Sheila Riley

With Love And Laughter

Finding Friends On Beamer Street by Sheila Riley is a wonderful historical novel set in Liverpool in 1921.

The leading lady is admirable and likable. Fresh off the boat from Ireland, she possesses a strength of character and has a will to succeed. She will stand her ground against anyone.

Dreams are important. We all need something to strive for. The reader admires the lead character who does not let set backs hold her back. She uses them as stepping stones towards her goals.

A character is drowning in guilt. An event in the past has a stranglehold as a character continues to punish themselves by denying themselves anything but the basics.

Only a few years after the first world war has ended means life is tough for those who lost husbands and fathers. They could let grief pull them down but instead they live and love and laugh. The wonderful feeling of love and care radiates from the pages.

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The Widow by Valerie Keogh

Totally Gripping

The Widow by Valerie Keogh is a totally gripping contemporary psychological thriller that I could not put down.

As the novel opens we ‘hear’ the perpetrator but do not know who it is. Throughout the novel this voice is interspersed with the narrative. We learn of the motivation for past actions as we cling on to the roller coaster ride into the future.

We witness the damage and devastation that ambition can do. It is a terrible master. When pound signs dangle in front of eyes, actions will never be good.

There is the motif of prisons. Many characters, though physically free, have been imprisoned mentally for years. They walled themselves up brick by brick.

On the opposite side of the coin, there is love. The book is ultimately a search to be loved and to belong. Isolation may protect but love is far better.

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The Orphans Of Berlin by Jina Bacarr

Powerful

The Orphans Of Berlin by Jina Bacarr is a powerful historical novel that consumed me from the start.

The action is set from 1936 to roughly 1942, with a post war epilogue. We hear the events through two alternating voices, both of which are incredibly brave.

Events take place in America, Paris and Berlin. The gaiety of America in 1936 contrasts with events in Europe as the storm clouds are gathering, and the persecution of the Jewish people is beginning to reach beyond Germany.

It is against this background that we find ordinary people committing extraordinary acts of bravery. Despite the fear, even young children stand up for family. It was a time of unspeakable horror, and also great love and bravery.

As we follow the orphans of Berlin, we see an ordinary Jewish family who are united by love and music. Music lifts us beyond our circumstances as we seek to lose ourselves within the melody.

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