As World War Two begins, Mary – a newly qualified teacher in London, left behind to teach the few children not evacuated – meets Tom, a school official. They quickly fall in love, but this is not a simple love story… Moving from Blitz-torn London to the Siege of Malta, this is an epic story of love, loss, prejudice and incredible courage.
This is a powerful novel in a new departure for Chris Cleave as he strives to show the insincerity of war, the wastefulness and the devastation that it leaves on ordinary people’s lives. The portrayal of how war affects people is described in minute detail as we follows the four main characters from when war begins in different ways for Hilda, Mary, Tom and Alaistair. With Mary and Hilda there’s an innocence at the beginning, followed by an appreciation and realization that their worlds have changed forever.
There are harrowing scenes of pain, particularly when Duggan is killed on the Moors and also very enjoyable passages with humorous banter between Hilda and Mary.