Twins, Ellen and Jack, are evacuated from East London to Cornwall during the early stages of WWII. In contrast to their background, they find themselves homed by a well-off, educated, couple called Rosewarne. Jack hates his new life although he is favoured by them. Ellen thrives, loving the opportunity to learn, even though she feels that Jack attracts all the favour despite her best efforts to please her new family. When their parents are killed in the Blitz, both are devastated, but Jack loathes the thought of staying. He has befriended the beautiful Selina Penaluna, a merrymaid, whom he would run away with.
The beauty of this novel is in the unusual and original manner in which it has been created. The detail gives it the credibility and plausibility that makes it feel real. The characters are complex; they are flawed and are therefore believable.
The pace is controlled, as is the viewpoint, which shifts and changes in time. The book offers an interesting plot that is filled with issues to challenge younger minds. Sexual themes are disclosed, some in their ugliness, as naivety is tainted by the touch of lust rather than love. Trust and mistrust combine and conflict across the generations; when one person’s selfish actions impact upon both the living and the dead. Through these issues the author takes the relationships into greater depths and shows the reader how life’s mistakes can lead to years of emptiness and regret.
I think the power lies in the challenging issues, which are raised around and throughout the story itself, to create a very thought-provoking book.