Promises to Keep
It is 1944. We are in rural Cornwall during the weeks preceding and the months immediately following D-Day. Most local lads, including Tom, the childhood sweetheart of Kerry, our heroine, are away serving in the various armed forces. The story begins when thousands of American servicemen are mustering in southwest England, preparing to embark for Northern France. Steadfastly loyal to her Tom, Kerry becomes innocently involved with Marvin, a GI soldier. Local gossip inevitably picks up on this and when Tom, wounded and discharged from the army, returns from a military hospital, his longed-for reunion with Kerry is briefly blighted by his lack of faith in her fidelity.
One problem with this novel is that the characters, Kerry and Tom in particular, fail to develop as the very slight story slowly emerges from the exhaustively-detailed minutiae of the narrative. When confronted by major and sometimes tragic incidents, we are told how they react on a practical level, but they seem more concerned about what sort of cakes to have at a party, where to hold it and who to invite to it, than with the demanding and life-changing situations to which they are all having to adjust. The author states on page 10 and several times subsequently that Tom is ‘fighting the Jerries somewhere in France’. The facts are that between the evacuation of the British army from Dunkirk (27th May – 4th June 1940) until the D-Day landings (June 6th 1944), there were no British units fighting in France. Readers may find this lack of historical accuracy irritating.