The lives of Harriet’s family and friends are interwoven seamlessly through 1910 to 1920, as history comes to life through the eyes of the characters. It is a tale of endurance and hardship through the Great War, contrasted by the excitement of the birth of Supermarine, early flying boat production and The Schneider Trophy.
Hints of character traits formed in early childhood appear to guide the destiny of the menfolk as they play their part in the less well known facets of World War One, but the roles of the womenfolk, too, change beyond recognition.
The story opens with a descriptive account of the Newton family history and the events leading up to death of Joe, Harriett’s husband, Sarah’s father, and Joe’s brother, Edward, who captains the ferry between Southampton and Caen
I haven’t read Riduna, the first book, so maybe this explains why it took me a while to see where the story was going as the narrative is bogged down with the island geography; the ferries that move between them and where they land, the description of the St Peter Port churches, landmarks, views and which street leads where.
The opening chapters deal with Sarah’s visit to the island, which is her late father’s former home, where she attends tea parties with people who knew her parents, all of whom had nice things to say – though nothing actually happens, so the plot gets a little lost.
Sarah finds a silver locket amongst her father’s belongings she has never seen her mother wearing, thus she wonders about this item and brings it out at intervals over the following years to look at, but it's secret remains until the end.
The changing role of women in the years up to and including WWI is handled well, with some interesting historical detail, specifically the emergence of the Supermarine factory that went on to build the Spitfire.
The story moves along slowly, and reads like a journal with a limited amount of dialogue, so I didn't feel I got inside the character's heads as it was all omniscient telling. However, for anyone who likes gentle tales of everyday life of a family living on the South Coast of England in the early 1900’s, this novel is a must.
ARC provided by the author in exchange for an honest review