The Penny Bangle
This is the third novel of a trilogy, and the first I’ve read. In 1942, Cassie Taylor is sick of the devastation from the bombings of industrial Birmingham and leaves her munitions factory job to become a Land Girl on a Dorset farm. Small and scrawny, she’d never even seen a farm, let alone a cow. She does not create a favourable impression on Rose Denham, her ailing husband Alex, and their twin sons, Stephen and Robert, who live in reduced circumstances in a homely, ramshackle farm cottage. Their other helper, Land Girl Frances Ashford, doubts Cassie’s capabilities but instructs her and explains the family history and circumstances.
Cassie determines to prove her worth and becomes a friend and asset to them all. Cassie discovers that the twins are convalescing after being injured at Dunkirk. Robert’s initial hostility dissipates, and he and Stephen introduce her to their adopted sister, Daisy, and her actor husband, Ewan Fraser.
The twins are separated after resuming active service in the army. Stephen is based in England and feels less heroic than his brother who gets sent overseas. Cassie and Frances join the ATS where Cassie proves adept at driving, navigation and car maintenance. Knowing the Fraser’s also impresses the other girls in their barracks.
Transferred to Egypt, she meets Robert in Alexandria, where he buys her a penny bangle before replacing it with a genuine silver bangle. The course of the war leads Cassie to face emotional turmoil and more adversity.
Margaret James has created a well plotted, orderly structured story set in the chaos and disorder of war, with likeable characters.