Blurb from Goodreads
A classic love story from the award-winning author of Goodnight, Mister Tom.
It is the summer of 1943 and war continues to rage.
For Rose and her sister Diana, it’s a time of independence and self-discovery as they find first loves.
But when Rose uncovers an extraordinary love story from another war, she is forced to question that love. Rose is about to discover a secret that will change everything.
Michelle Magorian combines her rich style with a refreshing take on wartime women in this classic coming of age story.
I was browsing through the Scribd catalogue and found this Michelle Magorian book… I haven’t read a book by her in years. As a child I was utterly in love with the children’s novels Back Home and Goodnight Mister Tom written by her. I reread them countless times and they almost became part of my DNA. So I was excited to read this YA novel by Magorian…
And now I’m sorry I read it.
I just never warmed to the storyline nor the characters. I found it sterile. I found the prose perfunctory and the plot dull. It felt like so many other wartime stories I have read before. Nothing felt fresh.
The main character of Roe (Rose) was nice enough; somewhat called to mind Jo March with her love for writing stories and feeling plain so wasn’t exactly original in her characterisation but she was likeable which helped I guess…
As for every other character? They were all very much stereotypes.
The shy and pretty sister Diana.
The plucky friend Dot.
The caring matriarch style character Mrs whatsherface… (already forgotten her name!)
The quiet male lead who would become the love interest versus the domineering one who flattered to deceive… (Alec versus Derry)
What I did enjoy…because it was well written rather than distinctly original.. was the unfolding of Hilda’s story alongside Roe’s. Roe and her sister had been evacuated to this isolated cottage which had been the abode of one “Mad Hilda” and thought to be cursed or at least haunted… but Roe found her secret diaries and revealed a very emotional story that juxtaposed nicely with events in Roe’s own life and in the lives of the others in the nearby village.
But I think more than anything this book has made me feel deeply unsettled because of the storyline between Roe and Derry. Derry treated Roe very badly, took advantage of her manners and innocence… and coerced her into having sex with him. It was so uncomfortable to read. And to me it felt like Roe never properly realised that what Derry did was criminal. She eventually just came to the idea that love should be a mutual thing and that being in love wasn’t about pleasing the man and doing what he wanted… and that instead she should feel happy too… but it still felt underplayed to me. I just wanted Derry to suffer I guess. I wanted him to be shown up for his criminality.
I toyed with the idea of DNFing this. I probably should have. But I wanted to see if this would get better and if it would contain any magic like the Magorian books of my childhood….
Sadly it didn’t and I just feel very underwhelmed.