In the ancient whaling port of Whitby in 1914, as World War One is about to begin, all has turned bleak as Evie’s young life is touched by the tragic death of her younger brother Alexander. Her parents fight their despair and grief at losing one son, whilst their elder son David focuses on the threat of the outbreak of the war, deciding to enlist despite being too young. Evie and her sister Kitty find some comfort and joy in the company of their two dogs, as the girls prepare to attend school for the first time.
This is a very tenderly written novel, which is both heartbreaking and heartwarming. It shows the desperate lengths Evie’s mother goes to in order to communicate with her dead son. The many issues that touched people’s lives are skilfully interwoven as the plot develops. The family struggles to come to terms with loss; they sacrifice both their son and one of their dogs as it is sent to The War Dog School to be an unwitting messenger at the front. The actual bombing of Whitby, and the effect it had on the inhabitants of this beautiful and vibrant town, are captured well, as are the tragic circumstances of a ship being wrecked in a storm. We feel for Evie’s lost childhood and follow her as she matures.
This moving story highlights the rights, wrongs, ignorance and prejudice of people’s behaviour during a desperate war time situation, yet ultimately it is an uplifting tale.
Suitable for 8+