Pocketful of Dreams

Written by Jean Fullerton
Review by Geoffrey Harfield

From an Irish East London wedding to the Battle of Britain, this book shows the Brogan family in love, tragedy and joy in exceptional detail. It explains the workings of the ARP, the Fire Service, the police, and other civilian protection groups, showing the sensible preparations by government.

When a mysterious young man arrives at the Brogans’ parish church, he provides a dazzling distraction for eldest daughter, Mattie. The pair fall deeply in love and are drawn into secret dangers on the streets they call home as Nazi support groups within the British working and governing classes are revealed. A strong and vibrant love story progresses while the young couple strive to protect the East End as they know it. But complications arise when Mattie discovers her lover is more than a priest and engaged in espionage against the Nazi infiltration.

Here is a brilliant author who is not afraid of the truth and has spent her life as a District and Queen’s Nurse and a vicar’s wife. She has lived in and known the East End all her life. But the book has a few anachronisms. I doubt a young lady in 1940 would request a G&T in a bar, nor wear a plastic rain cap or remark about cream emulsion paint. There are occasional misspellings, but overall this is a fine book, if a little too long for the story it tells. And it is a rare one that tells such detail of lovemaking, making it a book for adults.