This is a powerful book with memorable characters in every sense.
A young woman who was an abandoned child with no knowledge of her birth family is the main character of this second book in the Girls Who Went to War series. It stands alone as a vivid story of the ending of the First World War, and how the myth of a land fit for heroes in many ways proved to be false. The situations that Ella finds herself in, the risks she takes and the love she experiences make for an enormous saga of people and place, a frequently moving story of the fight for survival, and a complex tale of love and loss. With near breathtaking confidence and a sure way with plot and dialogue, this is one woman’s powerful story of a dramatic life that literally kept me awake, so keen was I to find out what happened next. As with Wood’s other sagas of a young woman fighting to survive despite jeopardy, this is a powerful story of wit and determination against the odds and complications of life. I was so pleased to be asked to read and review this book by an established author of this gripping type of novel.
Ella is a voluntary nurse dangerously near the Front during the final months of the First World War. It is while a brief respite occurs that a long term friend Jim changes violently, and it is only the caring actions of new friends and fellow nurses, Paddy and Connie, that gets her through a traumatic move. Battling on under catastrophic conditions she meets a brilliant doctor, Daniel, and shares a significant experience. As peace is declared and on her return to London, she soon discovers that not everyone finds a home and a bright future, and it is in the time when she tries to cope with those who are in difficulty that she seeks to contact Paulo, a young French officer who has quickly stolen her heart. While her bravery is celebrated she endures loss, and soon finds that her past is posing a danger to her present and future just as she believes she has found love. Her life becomes increasingly desperate, and she is forced to seek to find out more about her birth family from her beloved Nanny, who is the slender connection with her homeland and the truth. Dramatic danger dominates her life, and there are some vivid scenes of abuse as nothing seems impossible. Can she and her loved ones survive when friends are sometimes the only hope?
This is such a powerful and well paced book which carries the reader onwards, desperate to find out the next twist and turn in the fate of the central character. Ella must be resourceful and brave, but even courage and intelligence sometimes seems too little as life hurtles along. The real achievement of this novel is to create a character who feels real, that the reader cares about throughout the book. This is done by a real human insight and thorough research to capture the sense of a life lived in such difficult circumstances. A book that lingers in the mind long after reading it, I recommend this book to those who enjoy a strong story well told with a central female character.
I am particularly excited to be reviewing this book on publication day! Definitely one to look out for in many shops.
Pressing on with my Evita paper, Northernvicar managed to find me a brilliant book from 1996, “The Making of Evita” by Alan Parker. Featuring an account of the making of the film a fair while after the successful stage show first appeared, it tells of the difficulty of making a film where its obvious setting, Argentina, was fraught with challenges. It is a beautiful book, full of production photographs of significant moments. I hope it inspires me to finish this paper soon!