The breathtaking new novel from the multiaward-winning author of The Other Hand.
When war is declared, Mary North leaves finishing school unfinished, goes straight to the War Office, and signs up.
Tom Shaw decides to give it a miss - until his flatmate, Alistair, unexpectedly enlists, and the conflict can no longer be avoided.
Young, bright and brave, Mary is certain she'd be a marvelous spy. When she is - bewilderingly - made a teacher, she instead finds herself defying prejudice to protect the children her country would rather forget.
Tom, meanwhile, finds that he will do anything for Mary. And when Mary and Alistair meet, it is love as well as war that will test them in ways they could not have imagined, entangling three lives in violence and passion, friendship and deception, inexorably shaping their hopes and dreams.
In a powerful combination of both humour and heartbreak, this dazzling novel weaves little-known history and a perfect love story through the vast sweep of the Second World War - daring us to understand that against the great theatre of world events, it is the intimate losses, the small battles, the daily human triumphs that change us most.
©2016 Chris Cleave (P)2016 Hodder & Stoughton
Superbly built characters. Clean, precision prose a skilful immersion of the fourth protagonist into war torn London. Best since The Dressmaker.
Thank you and congratulations Chris
I couldn't stop listening...beautifully narrated .. I thought that the story brought a great depth of the human condition from a time where society had no words of a deep experience and left so much between the lines...the war changed so many.. as a post war ex-Londoner I found the story moving
"An astonishing blend of laughter and pain."
This book took me completely by surprise. I listened to the first few chapters several times and It still made me laugh out loud with delight.
As the war progresses and the confidence and certainty of the main characters begins to disintegrate, the brilliant colours of the opening chapters darken and fade. The humour, which is always present, becomes bleaker and sharper.
I love the fact that Tom's jar of Blackberry jam takes on the significance of preserving colour and ultimately, redemption.
The narration was extraordinary. It was hard to believe there was only one narrator, so skilfully did Luke Thompson inhabit the different characters.
I cannot recommend this audible book enough.
"Apposite time to listen to a second world war book"
Definitely 4 star rather than 5 star. A good time to listen to a second world war book with Remembrance Day fast approaching. Seen mostly from the point of view from the upper echelons of soceity it brought home the excitement, difficulties, adventures and traumas of wartime. It was a bit sickly sweet at the end.
"Superb story telling"
Poetic language, insightful, very good characterisation, well read. Thoroughly enjoyable - will look for other works by autnor
"A real treat for the ears, heartbreakingly good"
Beautifully written and wonderful narration. One of the best books I've read in years. A heart stopping and heartbreaking tale.
"Not what I expected"
I ordered this book on a daily deal and based on reviews. It is as others stated humorous and sad and I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. Falls short of a full 5 stars as I would have liked an extension at the conclusion of the future of two of the mail characters but recommended and great narration
Thoroughly recommend this book. Narrator perfect too. Thats my review but they require more words?!
A wonderfully crafted story with exquisite use of English, conjuring up a masterpiece. Must read
Excellent, excellent book. Wonderful story, beautifully characterised, and each of those characters brought to life by a superb narrator. Bravo.
"An outstanding novel and an astonishing performance"
Riveting from beginning to end. The author makes the war years live. This book should be required reading for every new generation as those who lived through WW2 pass away. This book will shock you, move you and make you think. The narration is a tour de force. All the characters are voiced perfectly. There should be an audible Oscar for this performance, it's incredible
"Captivating Story Line"
A really enthralling story line , insight into real life events during WW Two interwoven with a really gripping story about the loves and lives of the four main characters . A fascinating insight into the problems faced by ordinary people forced to live extraordinary lives in the face of heart breaking tragedies .
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