The House of Hope by Audrey Willsher
|The House of Hope by Audrey Willsher|
|Category: Women's Fiction|
|Reviewer: Sue Magee|
|Summary: A unusual story set in post-WWII England. There's a heroine you'll warm to and a good story.|
|Buy? Maybe||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 224||Date: February 2011|
|Publisher: Robert Hale Ltd|
It was November 1946 when Marianne made her way to Hope Grange. She was taking the job of a maid in the house owned by Hugo Lacey, but she hadn't even arrived before she wondered if she'd made a mistake. The villagers were unwelcoming and finding he house wasn't easy, particularly as she didn't like to ask the German Prisoner of War she met – he was one of the ones who had been responsible for the death of her beloved Nan two years before in a V2 attack. When she did find the house she encountered a difficult child, his very difficult grandmother and the realisation that they and the house were on their uppers.
Escape wasn't even possible once she realised that her only relative who was returning home from America had no other address for her and gradually she warmed to Gerald, Hugo Lacey's son, but Lacey himself was rarely home and and even more rarely had any money for Marianne's wages when he was there. The grandmother became steadily more difficult as time went by and the only relief for Marianne was her growing friendship with Franz, the PoW.
The story didn't work out at all the way that I was confidently expecting! I've lost count of the books I've picked up and worked out the ending within the first few pages and discovered that the rest of the book was just a filler to get me there. That's not the case at all here – with areas of post war life that don't usually feature in romantic fiction looked at sensitively.
You'll like Marianne too – even if she has just changed her name from Mary! She's sensible and resourceful – and just the sort of person you'd like to have around in an emergency. The character who stole my heart though was Gerald, with an absent mother and a father who didn't seem to love him or be willing to spend any time with him. His gradual change from a rather wilful child is a delight.
This isn't great literature, but it is a good story. I read it over the course of a very wet and cold Sunday afternoon and thoroughly enjoyed the book. The descriptions of the dreadful 1946 – 47 winter even made the weather outside seem better! I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to the Bookbag.
For more from the time after the end of World War II we can recommend The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer.
You can read more book reviews or buy The House of Hope by Audrey Willsher at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy The House of Hope by Audrey Willsher at Amazon.com.
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