Land Girls at the Wartime Bookshop (The Wartime Bookshop, 2)

Written by Lesley Eames
Review by Simon Rickman

England 1941. Nothing lasts forever. The vicar’s demise prompts fears of a similar fate befalling the Churchwood village bookshop, due to the snobby, judgemental attitudes of the incoming minister and his equally joyless wife. Social-club, book-swap, crèche with activities and talks, this bookshop-plus takes place on Church premises, thus the new incumbent demands the Bible must always feature prominently; so it’s out with chat, help, fun and ‘The Beano’, in with thou-shalt-not. But personal domestic pressures hamper the protective efforts of the shop’s three mainstay women. Kate, a pearl among swine, has her uncouth menfolk to look after while trying to introduce two new land girls to the farm and date a gorgeous pilot. Alice, ever the shoulder to lean on, frets over her soldier husband, now captured, whereabouts unknown. Naomi berates herself for not offering stronger opposition to the bookshop’s impending changes – understandable, as she’s beside herself after suspecting her husband’s infidelity. Luckily, wartime spirit reigns; there’s always a neighbour to give a helping hand, or ear.

This village may be fictional, but people surely did endure quandaries such as these, portrayed here relatively pragmatically. That’s not to say there isn’t jeopardy and intrigue, but it’s capably written, giving realism to credible characters, most of whom demonstrate that the Bible’s message should be lived, not merely studied. Most enjoyable.