Shelter by Sarah Franklin

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Shelter by Sarah Franklin

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Category: Historical Fiction
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Luke Marlowe
Reviewed by Luke Marlowe
Summary: Set in the midst of WWII, passions, secrets, and emotions collide in an English forest - creating a romantic and memorable read.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 432 Date: July 2017
Publisher: Zaffre
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1785762994

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Connie Granger has escaped her bombed-out city home, finding refuge in the Women's Timber Corps. For her, this remote community must now serve a secret purpose.
Seppe, an Italian prisoner of war, is haunted by his memories. In the forest camp, he finds a strange kind of freedom.Their meeting signals new beginnings. But as they are drawn together, the world outside their forest haven is being torn apart. Old certainties are crumbling, and both must now make a life-defining choice.
What price will they pay for freedom? What will they fight to protect?

The old war time romance is a genre that has been around for centuries – the heightened emotions of wartime making it a fairly easy subject for writers to jump to. There's always a worry then, that a romance set in that period is going to be fairly generic and unoriginal - full of wholesome women left at home, sexy but unreliable foreign soldiers, and love rivals who will probably turn out to be working for the enemy...

In her debut novel, author Sarah Franklin neatly sidesteps any of those tropes and creates a fantastic read, packed full of beautiful, touching characters in a story that's as refreshing as it is romantic. Connie and Seppe are the leads here - and Franklin brings them to life in vivid colour. They both have hugely compelling backstories, which the author reveals elements of throughout - packed full of detail and pathos that hugely appealed to me as a reader. Because the author has chosen to use elements of wartime life that aren't used nearly as much in fiction (I'd not heard about the Timber Corps before, and had not read a huge amount about the Prisoners of War who were kept here in the UK) there is something immediately intriguing and gripping about the situations that these people find themselves in, helped by the fact that they're very genuine characters with flaws and failings -and this also makes them jump out to the reader so immediately. Despite the 60 odd years that has passed since the book was set, and the wildly different circumstances that readers today will be in, these characters are so vivid that they feel like people you could bump into in the street (or, more fittingly, the forest).

For a debut novel, the command of plot is commendable - it keeps the reader gripped throughout, and goes in directions that aren't expected. Indeed several moments in the later third of the book had my heart in my mouth - but thankfully they were resolved with skill, care, and love. Love is at the heart of this story - romantic love, familial love, love for one's country and love for one's self. It's a passionate, heartwarming and emotional tale that I hugely enjoyed - and I'm very grateful to the publishers for the copy.

For further reading I recommend The New Mrs Clifton by Elizabeth Buchan, another war time tale that combines clever, compelling characters with a carefully crafted plot.

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Buy Shelter by Sarah Franklin at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Shelter by Sarah Franklin at


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