The Lost English Girl

Written by Julia Kelly
Review by Linda Harris Sittig

This story is set against the backdrop of World War II and the eventual evacuation of thousands of British children from the cities to safe havens in the countryside. It tells the tale of Viv Byrne, who makes the agonizing decision to relocate her only child, with catastrophic consequences.

Viv grows up in a strict Catholic family in Liverpool. After two dates with Joshua Levinson, a handsome Jewish musician, Viv finds herself pregnant—the worst possible sin for a good Catholic girl. Marriage takes place, but Viv’s mother offers Joshua money to go to New York and walk out of her daughter’s life. Joshua agrees, believing the situation will only be temporary. But four years later, Viv is, for all intents and purposes, a single mom to daughter Maggie when the Germans begin heavy bombing in Liverpool.

Believing that Maggie will be safer with another family in the countryside, Viv allows the local priest to relocate her daughter. Then the Blitz intensifies, and Maggie becomes lost.

How Viv copes and what happens to Joshua provide the remainder of the story. Well-paced, highly emotional, and laced with enough historical details to make the reader feel the effects of war, this novel is an excellent read with a satisfying ending. I particularly liked learning about Britain’s massive relocation of children during the war. A list of one or two nonfiction books on this effort would have been a helpful reference.