So I was given this epic novel by the lovely guys at Sceptre in this surprise package last year along with a bunch of goodies, and it was the best book package ever. I'm so grateful to have had the opportunity to read this gorgeous book in advance- so thank you!!!
"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 simply love story...Moving from Blitz-torn London to the Siege of Malta, this is an epic story of love, loss, prejudice and incredible courage."
We meet Mary North, a wealthy girl from a well to-do family but is insistent that she will join in with the war effort and become a teacher. With doing so she soon becomes a kind of mother figure to one of her students Zachary, a black child who with his classmates are evacuated to the countryside to escape the turmoil of war. However, Zachary feels segregated from his classmates because of his race and with the help of Mary and Tom (from the ministry of education) he doesn't feel so alone. Early on it becomes obvious that Mary and Tom will soon become a couple from working closely together.
We then meet Alastair, who unlike Tom who avoids the war to take care of his school's and making Jam, he joins up to fight for his country. As we follow the lives of these characters, their paths connect and become tangled together.
From receiving this book and reading the synopsis I simply knew that this was the book for me, the setting of World War II and the relationships between a woman in love with two diverse men just ticked the boxes for me. Looking from an outside perspective this might seem like the typical war time love story, but boy the way Chris Cleave writes is simply a dream. The story is taken from the memories of his own grandfather who spent time in Malta during the war, and this shine's through by how observant the writing is and how attached you become to the characters because they're believable. I think it was great that Chris didn't shy away from conveying the horror of war for everyone involved, whether on the battlefield or at home- the detail was immaculate.
I've been swept away by this book, it's made me laugh, cry and I felt like I was part of it too and I don't think I've ever endured that kind of experience from a book.
I recommend this to all you war book lovers out there who seek for a moving experience like no other, praise to Chris Cleave I'm eager to read more from this wonderful author.