This is a dual-timeline novel set in London in 1940 and 2019. In 1940, rich and carefree Ruby has surprisingly volunteered for the ambulance service during the Nazi bombing of Britain, otherwise known as the Blitz. Her partner and driver is Joseph, a conscientious objector. Ruby owns a house in London and has rented out one of the top two floors to Joseph and the other to a married couple, Kitty and Reg. In 2019, Edi has purchased an apartment in London and is trying to start life anew. A neighbor, a book, and a hidden object lead her to pursue a mystery and learn about the actions of truly courageous women in a dangerous time.
I was spellbound by this novel, which transports us to a shell-shocked London being hit with a barrage of bombs night after night. We careen through the streets in an ambulance, saving who we can, and we do it over and over. This is the life of Ruby at that time. We also meet Joseph, who cannot take a life but wants to help his country in other ways. We learn of life-threatening prejudice against women, and we witness the very real September 1940 occupation of the Savoy Hotel, as the differences between the shelter accommodations of the rich and poor are made very obvious. In 2019, the heartbroken but determined Edi, with the help of her neighbor, Pearl, unravels a mystery that has been hidden for decades.
This is a unique and eye-opening look at London during the Blitz that gives us deeper insight into the realities of life in that era. I highly recommend this book to fans of World War II fiction, women’s fiction, and mysteries.
I received a free copy of this book from the publisher, Bookouture, for Historical Novels Review, the magazine of The Historical Novel Society. My review is voluntary and my opinions are my own.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
(In Her Own Words)
When I was a child my evil genius parents decided not to have a TV as they thought it was bad for a child’s imagination – I mean, as if?! And, as this was in the days before the internet and mobile phones, I had a choice – I could either learn to love books or I could die of boredom. So I learnt to love books and pretty soon my love of reading grew into a love of writing and I dreamt of one day having a shelf of books of my own.
At eighteen I set off for uni in pursuit of my dream, to study English Literature. But two years into my degree, I become plagued by the fear that I just didn’t have what it took to become a professional writer. I came from a much poorer background than most of my fellow students and I started to feel that people from council estates didn’t belong in the middle class world of publishing. So I dropped out of uni and ended up working in the complaints department for a frozen food company where all I wrote were grovelling apology letters to irate customers. (This is the tragic low point of my story).
After four years of working in jobs I hated I came to an important realisation: life can be a very dull and dark place when you don’t dare to dream. So I dusted off my literary dreams and instead of seeing writing as some kind of rarefied world solely for the silver-spooned, I decided to approach it as I would any other job, starting small and working my way up. I began my quest writing short stories for weekly women’s magazines (the kind of magazines that have headlines like: The Day My Womb Fell Out! and OMG My Fella is Sleeping With the Milkman!). Then I wrote some articles. Having short stories and articles published gave me the confidence to finally have a go at writing my first book.
That book was published in 2000.
Fast forward 20 years and I’ve now written over 30 books and I’ve won three book awards. Moral of the story … never give up on your dreams!
I love helping other people with their writing, in my work as an editor and writing coach.