Christmas is in the title, and it covers both Christmas 1941 and 1942, but this book deals with the entire year in between as well. It is a very exciting year, with the three main characters, Winnie, Bella and Frankie, experiencing romance, family pressures and new challenges, all while working in a busy auxiliary ambulance station in London. Wartime pressures as well as the excitement and bustle of the lives of three young women, their friends, families and loved ones, keep this novel moving along well, drawing the reader in much as the previous volumes have done. As the war continues, separation and bleak realities jostle with the happiness and excitement of projects which motivate and inspire the women of Station 75.
As the book opens, Frankie is struggling with the nastiest character in the novel, the awkward, selfish and lazy Ivy, who she has promised to keep an eye on against her better judgement. Winnie is at a railway station, saying goodbye to Mac, fearful of his role in the Unexploded Bomb Disposal Unit in Colchester. While she is grateful that he is only in Colchester while other husbands are sent far away, she is under no illusions about the dangers he is facing on a daily basis. Bella has been doing some writing for a national journal, “The War Illustrated” but this is soon not going to be enough, and while she is secure in the house she shares with Winnie and her godmother Connie, she is aware that everything in wartime is not easy. Her relationship with James is developing well, even if he is mysterious about the paperwork he does at Bletchley Park. It is evident that nothing is secure as even the proudly determined and private Station Officer Steele faces a crisis concerning her family, and her reactions will have repercussions for everyone at the Station. As a new character, Rose, is introduced, the women discover that while the blitz in London was dangerous and life changing, the lives of others have been heart breaking in other ways. While the bombs are no longer falling on a nightly basis, there are still dangers underlying the communities in which they serve. Social events relieve some of the tension and focus on the positives of people working together,but the ambulance drivers are still only a call away from disaster and some sadness. Despite that, there is hope and happiness in this very human book which covers so much and maintains a pace which keeps the reader involved.
I really enjoyed this book and I am pleased to be asked to review it. This latest episode is a good read and is a worthy addition to the series. The characters seem effortlessly human, a great tribute to the quality of Hendry’s writing. It is easy to read and enjoy this book, whether in the Christmas season or at any point in the year, and I recommend it as an engaging saga of wartime lives.
I am happy to be hosting the blog tour for the first day of publication, especially when it has been such an enjoyable read. Other books to come in the next few days include an exciting wartime thriller and just in time for the Centenary commemorations, a book of what happened after the guns stopped firing. Plenty of good books in chilly weather – and kicking off with this one. Sounds like a good November to come!