Reminiscent of Martha Hall Kelly’s Lilac Girls and Kristin Hannah’s The Nightingale, this sweeping, entrancing story is a must-read for fans of remarkable women rising to challenges they could never have predicted.
It’s always been easier for Cara Hargraves to bury herself in the past than confront the present, which is why working with a gruff but brilliant antiques dealer is perfect. While clearing out an estate, she pries open an old tin that holds the relics of a lost relationship: among the treasures, a World War II-era diary and a photograph of a young woman in uniform. Eager to find the author of the hauntingly beautiful, unfinished diary, Cara digs into this soldier’s life, but soon realizes she may not have been ready for the stark reality of wartime London she finds within the pages.
In 1941, nineteen-year-old Louise Keene’s life had been decided for her—she’ll wait at home in her Cornish village until her wealthy suitor returns from war to ask for her hand. But when Louise unexpectedly meets Flight Lieutenant Paul Bolton, a dashing RAF pilot stationed at a local base, everything changes. And changes again when Paul’s unit is deployed without warning.
Desperate for a larger life, Louise joins the women’s branch of the British Army in the anti-aircraft gun unit as a Gunner Girl. As bombs fall on London, she and the other Gunner Girls relish in their duties to be exact in their calculations, and quick in their identification of enemy planes during air raids. The only thing that gets Louise through those dark, bullet-filled nights is knowing she and Paul will be together when the war is over. But when a bundle of her letters to him are returned unanswered, she learns that wartime romance can have a much darker side.
Illuminating the story of these two women separated by generations and experience, Julia Kelly transports us to World War II London in this heartbreakingly beautiful novel through forgotten antique treasures, remembered triumphs, and fierce family ties.
Cara is an antiques dealer just learning the ropes. She finds some old love letters and this leads her to investigate the past. She discovers Louise. Louise is bound and determined to change her stars. Her mother wants her to wait for her rich boyfriend to come home from the war. Louise wants more out of life than that! Enter Paul Bolton, a larger than life Fight Lieutenant. He sweeps her off her feet. She decides to join the British Army where she is trained as a gunner girl. Their love letters keep her going, until they just stop.
If you follow my reviews, you know I love strong women characters. Both Cara and Louise fit this to a “T”. Louise is unstoppable in her quest to help in the war effort. She does not intend to mend socks for the service men. She wants to be in the middle of the action. Cara is just as tenacious. Her grandmother is keeping a secret about her time in the war. And Cara is determined to find out more.
This story has a little bit of everything. Family drama, love, mystery, action, just to name a few. Parts of this tale are purely magical. When Paul takes Louise into smugglers cave, I could just feel their connection. I fell in love with Paul …glad it was not in real life…I would have been hoodwinked. (Sorry spoiler alert).
Well, well, well, this author taught me something. I knew women were nurses, ambulance drivers, spies and more in WWII. But, I have never heard of gunner girls or ‘ack ack’ girls. These ladies helped with the anti aircraft guns. How have I missed this! These ladies were so brave.
To say I loved this read is an understatement. This is a fantastic, awesome novel. I ended 2018 with a bang! I would rate this one in my top five of 2018. Read this TODAY!