In this novel by Chris Cleave, characters are drawn from the 1940's British class system and singled out in the act of living in war torn London and through the siege of Malta.
At eighteen, Mary leaves finishing school for an opportunity to serve in similar capacity as her father somewhere within the diplomatic corps but finds herself placed instead as a primary school teacher shepherding London’s children to refuge in the countryside. Her immediate supervisor, Tom, must accommodate her choice to stay behind instead. Meanwhile, Tom's flatmate, Alistair, finds himself closing the collection at the Tate Museum as it is shipped to safety in Wales. Without his occupation as conservator to steady him, he volunteers with the army.
Cleave's characters are seemingly rudderless against a drawing wave of violence as they make preparation to meet unknown challenges ahead. Fortunately for readers, Cleave includes off-hand upper-class repartee which bolsters our morale and provides instances of hilarity where none could otherwise exist.
Based on the experiences of his own grandparents during World War II, Chris Cleave illustrates acts of 'ordinary courage' within each hour. His narrative tests humanity’s capacity for moral integrity, physical endurance, and forgiveness in the face of horrendous destruction and loss. Readers may discover new depths of compassion for contemporary war torn countries and families living through war's destruction. You may reserve the book here.