A World of Trouble by Jacky Renouf – The Island of Guernsey in the Second World War for Marion, Stella and Rachel

A World of Trouble – Fateful Decisions (English Edition) eBook: Renouf,  Jacky: Amazon.de: Kindle Store
A World of Trouble by Jacky Renouf

1940, Guernsey, and for three young women some fateful decisions to be made that will have long reaching effects. Marion, Stella and Rachel are young women who have grown up on the island, but as the threat from the German forces increases from across the Channel, they must make a series of choices that may threaten themselves or their families. This is a precisely written novel which uses the three female lead characters to explore some of the pressures on people on the island at the time. An island which came to be invaded by a large number of soldiers suffered immense pressures, especially as so many of the younger people left, and many of the children were evacuated at the last minute. Despite the fact that a lot of foodstuffs were grown on the island, there were real shortages of the basics when supplies did not get over from occupied France to support the troops. This is a book that manages to look at not only those who were one of the Channel Islands, but also how this small piece of Britain was viewed from the mainland as the War progressed. At a nearly impossible time for women on the edge of life, love and more, this is a book full of insight which goes beyond simple choices as subtle compromise and complexity must be exercised in order to survive. I was very pleased to have the opportunity to read and review this book. 

At the start of the book it is perhaps difficult to believe that the Germans will soon arrive in force and present a real threat to daily life on the island. Nevertheless it is decided at the last minute to send the school age children to the British mainland, including David, Stella’s younger brother. Her parents, who run the island’s newspaper, decide that Stella would be safer off the island, and arrange for her to leave with a class of children and go to Cambridge where a neighbour’s son is working. The journey is uncomfortable and dangerous, and the mainland is reeling from bombing. Stella must find her feet in a strange place without those who she loves. Rachel is a nurse in the local hospital, engaged to be married to John, but her parents are reluctant to let her go abroad to be closer to him. Her father in particular is aggrieved at the Germans, and she worries about him getting into trouble. Her work at the hospital, as it is forced to move to an older site, exposes the shortages of the basic supplies it needs to function as different illnesses and needs emerge among the civilian population. She is against talking to the German soldiers on any level, but there is a huge variation in the attitudes of those who have found themselves sharing the island. Marion is struggling with her difficult mother, but finds an alternative world in the local theatre groups. She comes to the attention of a German officer, and must make decisions that may lead to trouble.

This is a book which is based on solid research, a knowledge of events on the island and a real feel for what people went through, and the choices that they had to make. The shortages of food and other basics is well documented, but the islanders’ reactions to the forced workers who were savagely treated is a fascinating aspect of the book. This book also questions the attitude of the wartime government in London to the people on the island.  I found this to be a fascinating book which deals broadly with the most difficult part of the twentieth century for the Channel Islands, and the specific problems faced by the young women of the islands as they tried to survive innumerable challenges.  

2 thoughts on “A World of Trouble by Jacky Renouf – The Island of Guernsey in the Second World War for Marion, Stella and Rachel

  1. There’s a great non-fiction book called ‘When the Germans Came’ by Duncan Barrett about life under occupation on the Channel Islands. Went to a fascinating talk by the author last year. Highly recommended!

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