The idea of an unmarried mother being shunned by society barely 60 years ago at the time of my parents birth strikes me as strange. In fact as recently as my school days I had a classmate who relocated to the country for six months in order to endure a pregnancy and give away her child in total secrecy to prevent shame being brought upon her very Catholic parents. This seems at total odds to modern society where unmarried mothers are the norm.
Homecoming is set in the 1950s when a number of the characters are pregnant, some of them dearly want their babies and are fortunate enough to be married and keep them, others want their babies but have to give them up to save familial stigmatism and others have no option but to give birth to the child they hadn't planned nor do not want. It's a very complex subject dealt with in a remarkably tactful way.
The key characters are all related, although complicatedly so. Billy might only be a babe in arms but he's also Martins brother-in-law in addition to being his nephew. Billys father is Martins brother Jacks father-in-law in addition to being Jacks boss or at least he was until Jack was required to spend the two years of his National Service posted in Cyprus. The book starts upon Jacks return from Cyprus some six months later than expected having recovered, at least physically, from the wounds caused by the ambush which ended the life of his comrades. Jacks arrival home is celebrated by a party thrown by his wife Helen from whom he parted only three weeks after their wedding, a wedding that was required upon the discovery of Helens pregnancy. Not long after their wedding Helen miscarried with complications that meant she could never have children. Helen wants to adopt, something that's surprisingly easy considering the number of babies available for adoption via the unmarried mother homes. Being a respectable married woman should make this very straight forward but she hadn't banked upon Jacks single indiscretion in Cyprus nor the repercussions of this imploding her perfect life. Can she ever trust Jack again?