Beyond Summerland by Jenny Lecoat

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Beyond Summerland by Jenny Lecoat

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Category: General Fiction
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Ruth Ng
Reviewed by Ruth Ng
Summary: This is a war story with a difference since the focus is the aftermath after the occupation of Jersey, and how life continues once the Nazis have gone. Full of mystery and heartache.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 288 Date: July 2024
Publisher: Polygon (An Imprint of Birlinn Limited)
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 9781846976537

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Jean lives on Jersey with her mother where they are celebrating the end of the occupation. During the war, Jean's father was arrested for listening to a banned radio and soldiers took him away one night, leaving Jean and her mother waiting for years for news of him. As the British finally free the Channel islands from the Nazis, and the war is finally over, their hopes rise that they will finally learn what became of him. But will the truth come as a relief, or will it raise further questions around what else happened during the war? Who was the informer who told the Nazis about the radio? And what other secrets have been kept throughout the occupation?

This is a plot-heavy story, with so much happening that it's difficult to write about without revealing spoilers every other sentence! I enjoy reading stories set around the Second World War, as they remind me of Sunday afternoons spent listening to my Nan talk about her wartime experiences, or my Great Uncle telling me of his days in the RAF. This was interesting in the WWII fiction genre as it's set post-war, which is unusual. I also enjoyed that I really had no idea where the story was going. The book didn't follow the track that I'd expected as I started, and I found myself gripped to what was happening because of that.

The post-war period in the Channel Islands was very interesting to read about, and it was obviously a challenging time for the islanders for many reasons. Accusations were flying around about who had collaborated or not, who had been dealing on the black market, who had been truthful then and who was being truthful now. Yet collaboration wasn't a clear cut issue. Some people had to associate with the occupying forces during the war in order to keep their business going, or just to stay alive, and yet with the end of the occupation those islanders found themselves ostracised from others. Other people had used the Nazis for trade and goods, and of course some had started relationships with the soldiers, and had even fallen in love. It's a tangled, complicated history, and I liked that the book showed that, as well as the aftermath of everyone attempting to deal with that.

The characters felt well drawn, and flawed in a myriad of ways. Some seemed to be truly awful people, but others were much more complicated, acting in ways that I didn't always like, but I understood because of what had happened to them in the past, or what was happening to them as the story unfurled. Really the story belongs to two of the women in the book, Jean and Hazel, and their relationship is complex and intriguing as it develops through the story. I found it quite a sad read, though it did manage a little uplift at the end. Whilst there were aspects of the story that I didn't like, I felt it stayed true to itself throughout, and was certainly a more interesting read for being unpredictable.

You might also enjoy reading When The Sky Fell Apart by Caroline Lea or The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer.

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Buy Beyond Summerland by Jenny Lecoat at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Beyond Summerland by Jenny Lecoat at


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