The Farmer’s Daughter
Set in June 1944 in an East Anglian farming community, this novel describes the struggles of Jean to keep the family farm going after her father suffers a stroke. Her brother Gordon, a pilot, has been shot down and is a prisoner of war in Germany. When she gets the chance to take on a German POW as a farm worker, Jean jumps at it. They get Karl, who is from a farming family in eastern Germany, which has been taken over by the Russian Red Army in the last years of the war. The book compares the struggles of both sides and explains the different categories of German prisoners, the prejudices that they had to deal with and their worries about their own families back in Germany. As Jean and Carl become closer, Jean has to deal with the displeasure of the local man that everyone assumes she will marry. Fraternisation between the British people and German POWS is forbidden at this time. Day-to-day life on the farm is well described, as are life in the POW camp and the problems that Karl has to contend with there. The book emphasises the similarities between Jean and Karl’s families during the war rather than the differences. An approachable, but compelling, read which raises some interesting moral issues about wartime relationships. Sadly, Mary Nichols, who wrote many books in the historical romance and family saga genres, died in 2016.