"His best book to date." ( Esquire, 10 best novels of 2016)
When war is declared, Mary North leaves finishing school unfinished, goes straight to the War Office, and signs up.
Tom Shaw decides to give it a miss - until his flatmate, Alistair, unexpectedly enlists, and the conflict can no longer be avoided.
Young, bright and brave, Mary is certain she'd be a marvelous spy. When she is - bewilderingly - made a teacher, she instead finds herself defying prejudice to protect the children her country would rather forget.
Tom, meanwhile, finds that he will do anything for Mary. And when Mary and Alistair meet, it is love as well as war that will test them in ways they could not have imagined, entangling three lives in violence and passion, friendship and deception, inexorably shaping their hopes and dreams.
In a powerful combination of both humour and heartbreak, this dazzling novel weaves little-known history and a perfect love story through the vast sweep of the Second World War - daring us to understand that against the great theatre of world events, it is the intimate losses, the small battles, the daily human triumphs that change us most.
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Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Black Mary on 10-06-16
An astonishing blend of laughter and pain.
This book took me completely by surprise. I listened to the first few chapters several times and It still made me laugh out loud with delight.
As the war progresses and the confidence and certainty of the main characters begins to disintegrate, the brilliant colours of the opening chapters darken and fade. The humour, which is always present, becomes bleaker and sharper.
I love the fact that Tom's jar of Blackberry jam takes on the significance of preserving colour and ultimately, redemption.
The narration was extraordinary. It was hard to believe there was only one narrator, so skilfully did Luke Thompson inhabit the different characters.
I cannot recommend this audible book enough.
55 of 59 people found this review helpful
By Amanda on 14-04-17
A different view of the second world war
This book looks at the second world war from a different perspective, that of a teacher whose school consists of children that could not be evacuated. It touches on racism in the 1940s, attitudes to disability and the class structure , love and the effect that war has on those who have to fight it. It also points out that not every village wanted evacuee children and shows how they might have been treated, a topic not often brought to light. Easy to listen to but also thought provoking
2 of 2 people found this review helpful