Victory for the East End Angels by Rosie Hendry – Wartime adventures for the women of Station 75

The Second World War may be almost over, but it has changed the lives of many, especially the characters in this book which completes the series featuring three young women who live and work in London. Not that this book has to be read in order with the other fine books; Hendry is skilled enough to make this a standalone tale which also manages to tie up many of the loose ends. It revolves around an ambulance Station, number 75, which has been kept busy throughout the Blitz itself and the other incidents which have rendered life in London so dangerous. Through challenges in picking up casualties and others who need to get to the London hospitals quickly, the women of Station 75 have had to learn to work together as well as cope with love and loss. Frankie has had a difficult home situation as she must deal with loss and the evacuation of those she loves, while waiting for her fiance to return from Europe. Winnie, the strong minded rebel must deal with unexpected challenge as she seeks to continue her valuable work. Bella has convinced herself that love and marriage is perhaps not for her, and works at her writing between vital call outs. As new weapons are sent against a ravaged London, can the three women survive and help others to get through the final days of a war which has threatened everything? I was really pleased to have the opportunity to read and review this book of womens’ wartime experience. 

 

The book begins in February 1944. After a long time of relative peace, there is another onslaught of bombs on civilians to deal with for Bella and Frankie. Although they can carry some casualties to hospital, there are those that are beyond their help. Winnie, who shares a house with her beloved godmother Connie, recalls her childhood with a distant mother, and considers what that means for her future. Frankie’s great joy is tempered by her difficult relationship with her stepmother, whose behaviour is causing many problems. As new bombs land with devastating effect, Bella encounters a very different man, who soon develops his own agenda. Station Officer Steele has to support the young women as they are faced with challenges beyond their work at the station, and she has to consider her own future as the war comes to an end. 

 

Despite the sometimes difficult subject matter in a book which deals with injury and sometimes death, this is ultimately a hopeful book which deals with the resilience of people, particularly women. The way that they all work together and remain friends through all the challenges that life throws at them is comforting and ultimately forms the basis of this book, as the others in the series. This book is a pleasure to read and enjoyable, as the author creates and maintains characters which are easy to care about throughout their adventures. As always, the sights, sounds and smells of the city at this significant time are so truthful, and there is obviously a great deal of research in the background. I was so impressed with this book that it was difficult to put it down, and I can honestly say that I enjoyed it immensely. Fans of books which deal with women in difficult situations will really enjoy this book, and I recommend it as a super example of the type.

 

Christmas with the East End Angels by Rosie Hendry – A Year in Wartime Life

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!

 

 

East End Angels by Rosie Hendry – Life in the London Blitz

Image result for east end angels by rosie hendry

A saga of the Second World War, but this time quite a special one, Rosie Hendry’s book is about three women who undertook one of the most dangerous jobs on the Home Front: ambulance driving in London. The danger that they tackle every night as the Blitz starts in 1940 is the main drama of the book, yet they are young women with real and challenging family backgrounds. The addition of the beginnings of romance is an added complication and for the three young women discovering new relationships is a new dimension to their lives. There are tragedies and barriers to negotiate, both real and in life, but ultimately there is some hope as real friendship survives all.

Stella, or Frankie, is new to Station Seventy – Five as well as driving, and she soon discovers that there is far more to her role than manging large vehicles. An unusual introduction to Winnie reveals a sense of flexibility regarding rules, which can mean both trouble and survival, not least for a small dog called Trixie. A third young woman, Bella, completes the trio at the centre of the novel, with her sadness at her family’s loss. Personality clashes and a firm boss can make life complicated, but personal crises are soon to be swallowed up in the overwhelming danger each character faces as German planes begin their nightly raids. Nevertheless, each woman must face concern about loved ones as both civilian and military family and friends are in dangerous and threatening circumstances. Winnie has to battle a forceful family despite her brilliance in her work and her seemingly luxurious living conditions. Bella’s living arrangements continue to be difficult, though she develops a unique insight into people’s lives. Frankie has to cope with challenging relatives as well as her real fears of managing in devastating circumstances. Places in London such as St. Paul’s cathedral become symbols of survival as there is no peace for the people of London, and exhaustion sets in for many.

This book is engaging, as each character seems to work as a real person in difficult circumstances. It is not overly melodramatic, as contemporary accounts of the blitz back up many of the events explored with a sure touch. The writing style does not wallow in the tragic, and Hendry packs in many events in this confident narrative. I enjoyed her creation of the characters, as she shows a deft touch at conveying emotions and motives. It is a very readable book, with a skilful realisation of what will keep the reader involved. I look forward to discovering further books in this series.

Meanwhile I have enjoyed rereading (for about the third time) “The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society” for the next Bookworms meeting in November. It is different from the film! I think that they are both enjoyable in their own way, as long as I remember that they are different things. I read it in two sittings….https://northernreader.wordpress.com/2011/01/13/a-literary-socie…and-a-book-group/ ‎  is my review from some time ago