When the War is Over

Written by Barbara Fox
Review by Geoffrey Harfield

It is difficult to classify this book. The best description is probably ‘fictionalised biography’ illustrated with actual photographs. It is a book to show teenagers what their grandparents’ lives were like when they were children. Seen through the eyes of two wartime evacuees, brother and sister, it tells of the people and houses they lived amongst and the wonderful northern landscape, of smells of cooking, clothes to ‘make do and mend’, of knitting socks for sailors, of picking fruit, and of blackberries taken to the village hall to be made into jam or jelly by the WVS.

There are black and white photographs of the kindly couple who gave them a home in the school house, he being the schoolmaster and minister of the nearby Methodist church, but they show poorly on the pages. Most are of people posing in their best clothes, some with faces in shadow, and others with strained smiles to the camera.

The story as told by the younger sister covers every facet of the siblings’ few years away from home. Happily, they were usually contented and, being together, did not miss their parents, but at 327 pages, this becomes a tedious read. However, if I were a relative or a close friend of someone who had experienced the wartime evacuation, When the War is Over would be a fascinating record.