Tag Archive | WWII

“The Orphan Sisters” by Shirley Dickson

“The Orphan Sisters” by Shirley Dickson was one of the saddest novels I have read.  It is written about two sisters, Esther, 4 and Dorothy, almost 8, whose mother dropped them off at an orphanage in 1929.   Not understanding why their mom never returned for them, Etty grew up distrustful of everyone and harboring an intense dislike, almost hatred, for her mother.  Dorothy knew a little of why they were left there but never shared with Etty.  As they grew older, Dorothy, at age sixteen, had to strike out on her own, leaving Etty at the orphanage.  Dorothy married and when Etty was fifteen, Dorothy petitioned to have her live with her.  Her husband was called up to serve.  What happens next to the two girls is both happy and very sad.  Suffice it to say, that the war made difficult and extreme demands on everyone.  There was no end to suffering and still, the citizens stayed loyal and determined.

I enjoyed reading this book but was also very sad because of the circumstances that the two girls had to endure.

I downloaded a Kindle copy of this book from NetGalley.com in return for my honest review.

“The Darkest Year” by William K. Klingaman

I was interested to read “The Darkest Year” by William K. Klingaman in order to understand exactly what the American people endured and suffered during WWII.  Although this book provided a psychological study of the citizens of a nation of war, I found it very difficult to follow.  Also, my perception of what life might have been like during that time was totally destroyed.  I was under the impression that the citizens of the United States did everything possible to support their governments during this time.  I was mistaken.  The human conditions of greed, selfishness, and self-preservation to the detriment of others was prevalent in both countries.  My fairy-tale theories of this “romantic”, at least to me, time in history were dashed.  I did not finish this book because of that.  It made my love of historical WWII fiction seem childish and unreal.

I downloaded a Kindle copy of this book from NetGalley.com in return for my honest review.

“Land Girls: The Promise” by Roland Moore

“Land Girls: The Promise” by Roland Moore is a story about Land Girls who served in England during WWII.  They worked for farmers, putting in crops, harvesting and in general taking the places of young men off to war.  Sometimes these girls were sent to farms where they enjoyed good food, camaraderie, and provide a service to their country at the same time.  Even though it was not the army, desertion was not an option.

Iris Dawson is seventeen and a Land Girl at Pasture Farm.  She is illiterate and is being tutored by the gamekeeper, Frank.  When the murder of a farmer’s son is discovered, Frank is the number one suspect.  There was bad blood between Frank and the murdered man, Walter Story.  Walter was a bully and not very well liked by the townspeople.  His father was a brute and also not trusted by most.  When Frank is taken into custody, Iris tries to prove his innocence.  She stumbles upon evidence that proved that Frank was not guilty.  However, the true murderer knows that she knows and vows to have revenge.

The rest of the story focuses on what effect this has on Iris.  She is continually looking over her shoulder, has nightmares, begins drinking and almost loses her position as a Land Girl.  She is sent to another farm where things are not as nice as on the previous farm.  She runs away and comes face to face with her worst nightmare.

I feel that this story is about a young girl who is forced to grow up quickly.  She possesses a strong will and the fortitude to fight for what is right.  I think that this is what happened to many young people during this time in history and I find it interesting to read about different services that were utilized during the war.

“Telegrams and Teacakes” by Amy Miller

“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.

“The Torch Betrayal” by Glenn Dyer

Glenn Dyer requested that I read and review his novel, “The Torch Betrayal”.  I readily agreed, since this time period of one of my favorites to read about.  The fact that Operation Torch was indeed a part of wartime military action was a bonus to my reading of the novel.

I was super-impressed with Dyer’s seeming knowledge of historical facts of WWII.  What brought the most impact to this novel is the inclusion of real individuals involved in the war effort.  This made the novel even more convincing.  Although this is a fiction novel of history, all the elements were there…history, politics, espionage, double agents, English cabinet members, suspense, thrills, and enough plotting in the government and spy circles to make reading this novel exciting.  The fact that Churchill, Eisenhower, Hitler, Canaris, Wild Bill Donovan, and more real characters were part of this novel provided thrilling background and plenty of drama.

I am especially excited about the inclusion of fictional plans of a real operation that took place in Northern Africa.  The fact that this was a true military plan made the book one that was hard to put down.  I’m sure that espionage and counter-espionage were rampant during this time and the sub-theme of romance didn’t hurt the reader either.  I thought that the realism of the violence committed in order to protect state secrets and wartime planning was appropriate and probably quite true.

I thought this story was very carefully developed and the characters well-conceived to provide the most suspense and realism to the novel.  I will be reading more novels by Mr. Dyer.

“Enemies in Love” by Alexis Clark

“Enemies in Love” by Alexis Clark is a novel about the unlikely love between a German POW and a Black nurse during WWII.  This is a true story which the author pieced together from interviews with a son and friends of the couple.

Frederih Albert was a German POW captured by the Allies and sent to a POW camo in the Arizona desert.  Elinor Powell was a Black nurse in the military during the war.  Black nurses were treated as second class citizens by the military, much like the black soldiers were treated.  Jim Crow was alive and well during this period of our history.  It is interesting that Nazi Germany considered colored people and mixed race people the same as some Americans thought of them.  Fraternization between the two races was highly frowned upon by the military brass and the citizens in general.  In fact, the German POW’s received better treatment than the Black nurses and soldiers.

An unlikely romance blossomed between Frederich and Elinor.  Before Frederich was shipped back home to Germany, Elinor became pregnant, had to leave the military and move back home with her mother.  She counted on the fact that Frederich promised to come back and that they would marry.  Some years after their son was born, Frederich was able to get a visa to the United States; they married and began life together.  It was not easy, as mixed marriages were not legal in all the states at this time.  The book goes on to tell their story.

Even though this book is supposed to be about love between enemies, most of the book details the treatment of blacks in this country during that time.  I was not aware of some of the methods of segregation.  Even though I did know about the Jim Crow attitude of white citizens, I was not aware of the depth of hatred and humiliation handed down to those of color.  To say that this book was interesting to read is an understatement.

I received a complimentary Kindle copy of this book from NetGalley.com and was under no obligation to post a review.

“The Prime Minister’s Secret Agent” by Susan Elia MacNeal

I have read many of Susan Elia MacNeal’s Maggie Hope books.  From the first one on, each has brought the desperation and conspiracies of London in the first days of WWII into focus for me.  Maggie Hope, British by birth and raised in America, has the ability to ferret out those who would see England destroyed by the Nazis.  “The Prime Minister’s Secret Agent” finds Maggie recuperating in Scotland at a training base for SOE agents.  Her past escapades have finally gotten to her soul and she is in despair.

An invitation to see an old friend perform in the ballet in Edinburgh brings Maggie into the investigation of a double murder and the almost-murder of her friend from the ballet, Sarah Sanderson.  The murder agent is a top-secret biological virus, anthrax, which is clandestinely being researched for warfare if needed.  Maggie and her partner from MI5 must solve the murders without endangering the top secret research.

In the time frame of this book, Pearl Harbor is bombed which brings the United States into the war.  Mr. Churchill is determined to talk to President Roosevelt and needs someone to be not only a secretary, a typist, a translator (of all things American) and a bodyguard.  He wants his former secretary, Maggie Hope to fill that role.  We end the story with the promise of yet another exciting Maggie Hope mystery.  I can’t wait.