“Telegrams and Teacakes” by Amy Miller takes place mostly in a bakery Bournemouth, England, during 1942. Britain was under attack by the Luftwaffe and rationing was ratcheting up. You couldn’t buy white bread, but all that was available was dark harder bread. Eggs, milk and sugar were severely rationed, as was cloth, shoes, and staple item. This put a strain on bakeries throughout England and households as well.
At the beginning of this novel, we find Betty Mitchell, desperate to leave the home she has shared with her husband Robert, after finding that Robert has a second wife and three children. She takes their savings and gets on a train, finally stopping in Bournemouth, ready to find lodging and a job.
Audrey Barton keeps the bakery running despite her husband’s wartime service and her advanced pregnancy. She is also very generous in helping others who need her. She already is helping her stepsister, an evacuated child, her husband’s uncle and her brother, a victim of PTSD, and sister-in-law. Betty decides to try to find employment there and Audrey hires her.
The novel follows these people as they struggle through rationing, bombing, worries about absent love ones, worries about Nazi invasion and more. Although it is hard to keep a cheerful outlook, Audrey does. She is a whirlwind of activity. Although pregnant, she hardly stops working. She is always the first to help.
I really enjoyed reading about this time in England’s wartime history. I’m sure things were just as bad as portrayed in this novel and probably even worse. I liked the fact that even though things looked desperate, these people came together and fought that desperation. Having a good outlook about the future made them continue to fight the good fight and “keep the home fires burning”.
I’m looking forward to reading more about the Barton Bakery.