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Being someone who has always enjoyed reading, I am lucky that my family are also book lovers, now we run our own unofficial book club, making sure that only one person buys said book, then lends it out to the others!
My mum in law has completely different book tastes to anyone else in the club, veering towards either thriller/murder books or to one of my favourites, wartime romance books, and yes, I am quite partial to a "Mills & Boon" book too!
So after a clear out of her bookcase, via my house I read this little gem and deftly reviewed it!
The book in question is - "Under the apple tree by Lilian Harry".
The book starts with the Taylor family, crawling out from the bomb shelter, their "Anderson" at the bottom of the garden, already knowing what sight will be faced, due to just how bad the bombing had been the previous night.
As they expected the house had been reduced to rubble, their entire lives wiped from the face f the earth in one fail swoop, heartbreaking, yes, but not individual as half of the street has gone too.
Will the family be able to recover from such loss, or will the English spirit shine through?
This is literally the first few pages that I have covered, and so much more happens within the book, but for me the story is good but not the drawing point of the book.
The whole backdrop of the war is the drawing point, the book is written from the stand point of the Taylor family, with there being Alice, the matriarchal mother of the family, and the one who puts up the family after being bombed out of their home.
Then Polly and Cissie, sisters who started living together when Polly's husband was killed fighting for his country, her daughter Sylvie has been evacuated to the country for her safety, Dick is Cissie's husband and is still suffering from being gassed in the first world war, so is used to having the women rule the roost and by passing him, then finally Judy, Dick and Cissie's daughter, she is engaged to Sean who is away fighting in the Navy.
This family in itself is exactly how I would expect a family in their situation to be, strongly moral, but willing to do what is needed to survive.
The book surrounds these characters lives, all during one of the worst times in history, and all situated within Portsmouth, which according to the book was very badly hit, second only to how badly affected London was.
Within these characters stories are the stories of other people who only flash into the story briefly, but whose stories really affect you, Kim who lived up the street on April Grove, who only popped into the house during a raid to get a bottle of milk for her 8 month old son, leaving her daughters down the shelter, then got hit directly killing her and her child instantly, the book is not shy about giving details of people and their deaths in the book, and at times I actually sat and cried when reading it, a rare thing for me to do!
The other aspect (as I know at the minute I am not selling this book to you), is the role women took within this conflict. No longer were women seen as the housewives and mothers of the nation, but as the actual backbone, with the women running the homes, the jobs, the children and the actual holding up of the country while their husbands, brothers and sons are away fighting, and boy do they do some good work.
A good portion of the book shows just the type of work these wonderful and strong women perform, a thing that I knew happened, but not in this detail, many of them risking their lives to do such tasks.
This really is an insight into a time I thought I was reasonably familiar with, but after reading this I felt enlightened and amazed that these people had such courage to carry on every day, even after such hardships.
Price wise this is available from www.amazon.co.uk for the sum of 1p onwards.
Thanks for reading x