HISTORICAL NOVEL SOCIETY INDIE REVIEW January 2014
Most of us are familiar with child evacuation during World War 2, but I wonder how many know about child migrants who were sent to South Africa, Australia and Canada to avoid danger? The Only Blue Door follows the story of Maggie, Billy and Grace, siblings who become victims of the good intentions of people believing them to have been orphaned during the Blitz. Shipped to Australia to start a new life, the children are separated and so begins Maggie’s struggle to prove her mother still lives and to bring the family back together.Based on actual events, this beautifully written story had me gripped and emotionally attached to the characters and their struggles. Apparently well researched, it provides some insight into the long term impact of the events unfolding between 1939 and 1945, without being clichéd. The tireless work and battles with ‘red tape’ of the organisations involved in evacuation and subsequent repatriation of thousands of children over this period, is aptly represented in the story.
The writing style is engaging and accurate, with fully rounded and believable characters. I will not only be recommending this book but also looking to read more of this authors work. Not every story has a happy ending, but maybe this one does?
In January 1937, Elizabeth makes the decision to stay in Civil War-torn Spain while her family returns to England. Her decision was, initially, made so that she could photographically record the impact of the war on Spain and her people. Finding herself alone in Malaga, she makes friends with two men, one who would be the love of her life, the other she would later marry. Seventy years later, a secret is unravelled by her granddaughter and a world of lies unearthed.
Spanish Lavender is, first and foremost, a love story. A naïve Elizabeth alone in a devastated city finds friendship and love with a young Spaniard by the name of Juan. When he becomes injured on the road to Almeria, he is taken to hospital but with no room for either Elizabeth or their mutual friend, Alex, they are separated and Elizabeth believes Juan dead.
Tragic, uplifting and beautiful, Spanish Lavender doesn’t shy away from the horrors of war, but neither does it concentrate on them. It is vital to remember that Spanish Lavender is a story of love.
The final third of the book suddenly leaps forward by seventy years, and here we meet Kate, the grandchild of Elizabeth. Initially a little confusing, this section helps answer some of the questions raised in the earlier section. A riveting read and one for reading while wishing for warmer weather!