Tag Archives: WW2

Goodnight Mister Tom by Michelle Magorian – book review

I get lots of book review requests from authors and publishers, so I always seem to have a huge list of books waiting to be read. I’ve now decided to make sure I have time to fit in books of my own choice. This is the first of these and I selected it on the basis to see if I thought it might appeal to either of my sons – one avid reader and one reluctant reader.

Goodnight Mister Tom by Michelle Magorian

Here is the book blurb.

The story of young Willie Beech, evacuated to the country as Britain stands on the brink of the Second World War.

A sad, deprived child, he slowly begins to flourish under the care of old Tom Oakley – but his new-found happiness is shattered by a summons from his mother back in London.

As time goes by Tom begins to worry when Willie doesn’t answer his letters, so he goes to London to find him, and there makes a terrible discovery.

The story starts just as the Second World War is imminent. 8 year old Willie is evacuated to Little Weirwold and is billeted with Tom. He arrives “sewn in for the winter”, carrying only a small paper bag, malnourished, covered in bruises from beatings from his mother, cowering expecting Tom to beat him too and scared of Tom’s dog Sam.

“Sewn in for the winter” means his vest was sewn to his underpants for warmth and I don’t even wish to contemplate the implications for toilet needs. Willie is also a bed-wetter initially which is hardly surprising given the circumstances.

Tom has lived alone for many years since the death of his wife Rachel and baby son, and is considered a bad-tempered old man. Other villagers are surprised at the change in him as he begins to care for Willie, getting him clothes, boots and treats. Although Willie initially can’t read, Tom finds he has a fantastic aptitude for drawing.

Willie has never had friends before but becomes good friends with local children George, Carrie and Ginnie and evacuee Zach. By the time he is summoned back to London by his mother, he is a new boy. However everything changes when he returns to London and we see the darker side of the tale. Tom is worried when Willie doesn’t write and travels to London himself. What will he discover? And how can he deal with it?

Goodnight Mister Tom is available on Amazon. I highly recommend this excellent classic story, which is targeted at children age 9-12.

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The Keeping of Secrets by Alice Graysharp – book review

Disclosure.  This post is a review of an e-book I was sent for free.  All opinions are my own.

I have received a free e-copy of the book The Keeping of Secrets by Alice Graysharp to review.

The Keeping of Secrets by Alice Graysharp

Here is the book blurb.

The keeper of family secrets, Patricia Roberts grows up isolated and lonely. Trust no one and you won’t be disappointed is her motto. Three men fall in love with her and she learns to trust, only to find that their agendas are not her own. With secrets concealed from her by the ultimate love of her life, and with her own secret to keep, duplicity and deceit threaten their relationship. In a coming of age story set against the sweeping backdrop of the Second World War – evacuation, the Battle of Britain, the Blitz, buzz bombs and secret war work – Patricia ultimately has to decide whether to reveal her deepest held secret for the sake of her future happiness.

The book starts when 15 year old Pat’s school is evacuated to Leatherhead in September 1939. Pat, Janet and Becky end up at Givons House, where they are under-fed, but get rehomed after complaints from their parents. Pat misses her new best friend Becky but has to leave her next billet when relatives are due and ends up in a bed far too short for her.

She goes back home to Brixton for Christmas, where her childhood friend Bill now wants her to be his sweetheart. But Pat doesn’t want to be anyone’s girl, she dreams of going to sixth form, then training to become a teacher.

Shortly after returning to Leatherhead, the short bed fails an inspection and Pat is rehomed again, this time in a small flat with Mr & Mrs Grice. When Mr Grice is called up, Mrs Grice moves to a larger bungalow and finally Becky is able to lodge with Pat again. But it is not just Leatherhead where she keeps moving, as her grandmother forces the family to move from Brixton to West Norwood due to a rent dispute, just before she goes back for May half-term.

Whilst home, she heads into London for a visit to the National Gallery and en-route pops into the Beaver Club, where her mother works. But she accidentally collides into one of the Canadian servicemen, Group Captain James Bonar, who was about to do some sightseeing before returning to duties. She ends up acting as an unofficial tour guide and James then asks her to be a pen pal.

A couple of weeks later, Pat turns 16 and with her school friends, goes for a cycle ride picnic where they inadvertently end up amidst a military training exercise on Esher Common. The officer in charge forbids them to speak of it to anyone, so she can’t include it in her pen pal news. Meanwhile James asks if she will show him more of London when he next gets leave, so she uses a visit to Becky as a cover excuse. And a week later they go to a dance and kiss. Several months pass before James next has leave and this time they sleep together and James proposes. Pat turns him down saying she wishes she was 10 years older. James had mistakenly assumed she was 21. But disaster intervenes when a week later, James’ plane is shot down.

We then move into part 2 of the book, where we continue to follow Pat, who is now blaming herself for James’ death and bottling up her biggest secret. Bill alternates between trying to cheer her up and feeling jealous that somebody else had been keen on Pat. She then meets Bill’s friend Jon whom she becomes keen on. Of course Bill starts resenting that Jon likes Pat. There’s lots more to come in the story, but I’m going to stop now.

The Keeping of Secrets is available on Amazon, currently priced at £9.99 in paperback and is also available in Kindle format. A nice story which I recommend.


Here is an extract from the book for you to read.

Pat has taken James, a Canadian airman, on a whistle stop tour of London’s attractions:

‘No tour guide worth her salt could allow a tour to end without a cup of tea at a Lyons Corner House,’ I declared grandly, and James inclined his head for me to lead on. I took him to the one on the opposite corner to Charing Cross Station and we were placed at a table at one side of the room towards the back. James extracted a cigarette packet as we waited for our tea, a quirk of an eyebrow as I refused the proffered cigarette, but he made no comment, dragging deeply before blowing the smoke out of his flared nostrils. He said, ‘It’s been a very pleasant afternoon. You’ve been kind to a stranger in a foreign land and made me feel at home. Could I ask one more thing of you?’

At that moment the waitress arrived and we were busy for a few minutes with the flurry of activity. Once cups of tea were in front of us, unable to contain my curiosity, I asked, ‘What’s the one more thing you’d like me to do?’

James was in no hurry to reply, sipping his tea and helping himself to a small gingerbread cake, which he ate slowly, his even white teeth flashing as he bit into its soft brown depths, his lips meeting firmly, a slight lift to the side of his mouth as he chewed and watched me watching him. I blushed a little as if I had caught him in some kind of personal ritual and he swallowed and nodded slightly, as if coming to a decision, smiling more broadly now, the crow’s feet crinkling, and I felt a melting inside me, and I thought, I’d like to draw him, and, blushing again, busied myself with cutting up my scone and butter.

James leaned forward and spoke quietly so as to not be overheard.


About the author

Born and raised in the Home Counties, Alice Graysharp has enjoyed a varied working life from hospitality to office work and retail. She currently lives in Surrey. This is her first novel, and the first title in a two book series, she is also already working on a seventeenth century trilogy. Published in the anniversary month of the outbreak of the Second World War and the Battle of Britain.

Website: https://www.alicegraysharp.com/


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The Keeping of Secrets by Alice Graysharp

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