The Girl on the Beach
On a rare day out at the seaside, eight-year-old orphan Julie Monday meets the slightly older Harry Walker. It is an encounter neither of them can forget. They meet again and marry, but the Second World War is about to start. Harry joins the RAF, and Julie is left alone with their son to face the London blitz. She is caught up in an air-raid and loses her memory. In the ensuing chaos, no one knows who she is and she is given a new identity – Eve Seaton. She begins a new life, unaware that grief-stricken Harry believes that he has lost his wife and his son to the blitz. The story follows the fortunes of Harry and “Eve” and their friends as they struggle to survive the war. Harry of course thinks he is free to build a new life, but “Eve” has the burden of her lost memories – should she try to ignore them and start again?
Nichols is a consummate storyteller and cleverly weaves the progress of the war into the lives of her characters. She brings the past alive and deals with the tragic consequences of war. Love, loss, rationing, the black market, the struggle of the ordinary people and the armed forces are all touched upon in this delightfully compelling story. The reader is left wondering until the very end if it will be possible for Julie and Harry to find happiness.