Shirley Dickson comes to the blog with a story of survival and hope in World War II era Britain with
The Outcast Girls
Starting at the orphanage that was the jumping off point of The Orphan Girls, we have Sandra – a long term orphanage resident with her younger brother and we have Frieda, a German Jewish girl who was sent from Germany to England with her younger brother for their safety. Unfortunately, before they left German, Frieda’s brother left ship, leaving his sister alone, frightened and worrying for him. Plunked into the orphanage and as the ‘new kid’ who was also different, Frieda’s worries for her brother aren’t soothed by the bullying or newness of her situation, and only her courage and hope helped.
Leaving the orphanage after aging out, Sandra finds herself in domestic service for a woman who ‘didn’t always’ appreciate her. When she learns that her bother is going to war, she wants to do her part and joins in the Woman’s Land Army which is where she meets Freida in the small village where the farm is. While the two girls have plenty in common and even their worries for their brothers are things to tie them together – the gentle use of their actual differences and approaches to each day and the world around them shows the strength of them both, and the support they gain from one another.
Make no mistake, there were moments in the story that felt very ‘here we go again’ as situations and some dramatic moments that felt more ‘dressing’ than ‘substance’ were here, but the story was clever and tried to provide insight into the homefront and the women of the Land Girls with a bit of a twist, adding in Frieda and her own unique perspective on both the war and her own worries for family. Most striking is the moments when both girls allow themselves a moment to wonder IF they’ll ever see family again, allowing the reader to remember just how ‘alone’ both of them are. A solid read with plenty of moments to enjoy.
Title: The Outcast Girls
Author: Shirley Dickson
Genre: Coming of Age, Family Saga, Friendship, Historical Fiction, Refugee Stories, Second Chance, Setting: Britain, Woman's Fiction, World War II
Published by: Bookouture
Published on: 24 January, 2019
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Get Your Copy: Amazon ♦ Barnes&Noble ♦ iTunes ♦ Kobo ♦ IndieBound ♦ Google
England, 1937: After a devastating childhood at Blakely Hall Orphanage, fifteen-year-old Sandra is released. She finds work as a housemaid, finally able to put her past behind her. But the start of World War Two throws the country into turmoil, and her brother Alf is sent away to fight, leaving her completely alone.
Germany, 1939: Eleven-year-old Frieda is about to board a ship bound for England with her brother, Kurt. Life at home is perilous, with synagogues set alight and innocent lives lost to the Nazis. They have no choice but to flee, with only their identity cards and a small suitcase. But at the last moment, as Frieda stands on the deck crammed with frightened children, she spots her brother jumping off, back to land.
England, 1943: Joining the Land Army, Sandra is sent to a farm in the remote countryside where she meets evacuee Frieda. The girls are grappling with their own tragedies – Sandra fretting over whether Alf, flying a bomber in the heavens, will see tomorrow, and Frieda distraught that Kurt abandoned her, uncertain whether he is alive.
Sandra and Frieda form a friendship that sees them through the darkest of days, but in times of war heartbreak is always just around the corner. Will the girls ever be reunited with their loved ones? And will the relationships they have fostered amidst the terror of war survive?
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.