Blogger is playing ducks and drakes with me and not allowing me to post a picture of the cover! And such a good cover at that.
Set in WWII we find many Englishmen and women perplexed by the strength and speed of the Germans. They cannot quite believe that Germany has taken over a good part of Europe and only a little strip of water divides them from the marauding hordes. Morale is high amongst the populace at the beginning though as time goes on and fatalities and injuries rise and men return from the front damaged not just physically but mentally for all time, the complexities of war hits out at all.
In Mary's home, the war does not seem to have affected the domestic front. Her mother still wants to host luncheons and parties, hopes her daughter will make a suitable match, preferably to someone known to them but Mary is of a different breed. She wants to make a suitable contribution to the war and not be a token worker for the war. To this end she enrolls as a teacher and ends up teaching children who are the ignored ones in society - the cripples, the mentally handicapped and in this category ignored by all the negroes.
Mary meets Tom and though he is in love with her and Mary tries to maintain the facade of love, she really is attracted to someone else and this is what sustains her through the war and the subsequent death of Tom.
This was an unusual side of the war from a civilian angle. I did not realise that the prejudice towards negroes in the UK was so strong and that they were considered a nonentity and that they survived on the very edges of society, not drawing attention to themselves and trying to be as much as possible under the radar.
Stories set in this era are all different and each book brings out a facet of the war and society at the time in a different manner. This was no different.
Told in a matter of fact manner throughout, despite the sadness and loss the survival of Mary and Alastair and the love they had for each other, despite overwhelming odds added a great deal of joy to the story.
The characterization was excellent and the descriptiveness of each stage of the war as part of this story was very much alive.
The book was sent to me by Netgalley, for an unbiased review courtesy of Hodder & Stoughton.