The Wronged Daughter by Mary Wood – does the past affect the present for women in the 1920s?

 

Margaret has a past, and in this book her past, and that of her friends Flora and Ella, has much to do with the events in this dramatic read. The third book in a series, this novel can be read as a standalone as it powers through a life in Bradford and other places in Britain as Margaret, or Mags, tries to come to terms with her decisions and the danger to herself and those she loves. Once more revolving around limitations placed on women in a post war Britain, and the traps they can find themselves in, the fact of their bravery on the front line seems forgotten. Wood has much to say about the strength these women have shown when very young, and how they must deal with the aftermath of a war that killed so many. 

 

As always, the author uses her considerable empathy and skill to wrap the reader in an involvement with these women, especially Mags. She does this with an attention to detail, clothes and setting which reveals a deep understanding of the time, and how to create a world which invites the reader in and keeps them there. There is romance, true love, and desire as sometimes women act for themselves rather than the sensible option. As always with Wood’s books, I was so pleased to have the opportunity to read and review this latest release from this prolific and skilful writer.

 

As this book begins, Mags is preparing for her wedding to the passionate if determined Harold when she suffers a tragic loss. Despite some hesitations and rumours brought to her by others, she follows her desires, even when there seems to be some threat to herself and the independent way that she has been encouraged to live. She is determined to maintain her involvement in the mill owned by her family, not only for herself but to continue with the social and medical provision for her workers. However, her determination is exceeded by another, and soon her world comes crashing down in the cruelest way possible. Every aspect of her life is challenged, and those who she loves are hounded and pursued. Throughout she must struggle to survive and help those whose choices have been affected by her own.

 

Despite the dramas and tragedies that permeate this book, there is always hope that things will change and improve. The fact that there is always someone on hand even in the darkest of times to help in small ways and add their own strength is a great theme in this book. The kindness of both friends and strangers in the face of threat is an important theme in this book, and gives it an uplifting feel despite tragedy. I enjoyed following the characters through a significant section of their lives, and as always the children are portrayed well with their own characters. Altogether this is a most enthralling, engaging and enjoyable book, which will not only please Mary Wood’s existing fans, but I expect will attract new followers to her particular brand of female centred novels. 

The Abandoned Daughter by Mary Wood – a powerful tale of loves as the First World War ends

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!