Rosie Clarke comes to the blog with the third in her Women at War series, the first I’ve read of these homefront stories from World War II.
Hetty’s Secret War
Told in four different perspectives from four women joined by marriage or family, the story focuses on the changes and challenges brought on by separations and deprivations of war. Hetty, the namesake for the title ran off to Paris at 17 full of dreams of an artistic life with her new (and significantly older) lover. When that romance failed, it left her cynical and wholly untrusting of men – but utterly in love with Paris and France. The younger sister of twins Annabel and Ben, she’d left leaving Paris until it was too late – caught in the southbound traffic leaving the city she was spirited off into a chateau, with the ‘man of the house’ soon to leave as he worked for the resistance. Meanwhile, her brother Ben – now a playwright of some renown has signed on to the war effort and was recruited by the SOE, mainly for his familiarity with an area that the Brits were helping locals on the ground. Years before he married a woman he didn’t love, leaving behind one he did – his sister Annabel’s best friend Grace. Grace had gone on to marry Arthur, even though it wasn’t a love match, and never forgot about Ben. These two manage to find one another again and reaffirm feelings and hopes for a future together. Lastly there is Annabel – mother figure to Beth who has been raised by Annabel at her small inn in Cornwall – loved and supported, Beth is feeling the need to do something different – and a chance encounter with a soldier place her in a position of driver/secretary to a man at the ministry of defense – while she waits for her husband to return after the war.
At first, there was so much going on and lots of information – all making it a bit longer to truly dive into the story. But, it wasn’t long before personalities, relationships and tendencies came clear – and the true magic of their interactions develops in front of your eyes. From Hetty’s anger to Grace’s worries, Beth’s growing up and Annabel’s fingers trying to gently (or not so) push people toward situations and connections she thinks will work well for them. A bit of her gentle persuasion, more backbone from characters than they had previously shown (by their own admission) and a clear sense of the family connections and affections – both biological and constructed. One thing that held true in this book (and I’m told from relations who share stories) is the hope for better and the determination to move forward and onward – because that is what is done. I think readers are best served by reading the earlier books in this series – and I’ve read a few others of this author’s titles and she does manage to create a real and palpable sense of friendship, affection and the time. Characters are plausible and distinct, never perfect but always easy to recognize and appreciate.
Title: Hetty's Secret War
Author: Rosie Clarke
Series: Women at War #3
Genre: British, Family Saga, Friendship, Historic Woman's Fiction, Romantic Elements, Setting: Britain, Setting: France, World War II
Published by: Aria
Published on: 19 March 2019
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Heat: Get Your Copy: Amazon ♦ Barnes&Noble ♦ iTunes ♦ Kobo ♦ Google
In 1939, with the world on the brink of war, one women faces a future more uncertain than she had ever imagined... Perfect for fans of Katie Flynn and Cathy Sharp.
Georgie - when the man she has always loved is sent to France on a secret war office mission every knock of the door fills her with dread of it being the feared telegram boy...
Beth - orphaned as a child, Beth is coming of age and determined to do her bit for the war effort. Caught up in a whirlwind romance, she marries only to become a war widow... and one expecting a baby who will never know his brave father. Can she find happiness again?
Hetty - desperately trying to make her way back from Paris to her beloved family in England, a fateful and tragic encounter brings Hetty to Chateau de Faubourg where she joins the resistance and risks both her heart and her life fighting for charismatic resistance leader Stefan Lefarge...
However dark the times, courage, determination and the power of friendship can overcome the hardships of war.
A copy of this title was provided via Publisher via NetGalley for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.