This novel by Lucy Strange, about the outbreak of WWII, was more painful to read than I’d expected. Or, indeed, felt before. It also made me harbour quite unpleasant thoughts about Mr Churchill.
12-year-old Petra and her older sister Magda live in a Kent coast lighthouse, with their lighthouse-keeper father, and their German mother. Yes, German. Never popular with local people, it seems the outbreak of war freed up any inhibitions they may have had about what you can say and do towards the wrong kind of foreigner.
The children are also tainted by their semi-foreignness and life becomes quite hard for the whole family. This is more than a war time story, however, and veers more towards crime fiction as the story grows.
It’s fascinating; no question about that. But you read it with your heart in your throat, thinking about what internment might have meant. Or treason. And then there is the case of evacuating children.
But it’s the lack of human warmth from some of the people you perhaps thought were friends and neighbours that really got to me. And more so, what it reminded me of.
Have we learned nothing?