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Editorial Reviews

"A cracker." (Stylist, 10 Exciting Books in 2016)
"His best book to date." (Esquire, 10 best novels of 2016)
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Publisher's Summary

The breathtaking new novel from the multiaward-winning author of The Other Hand.
When war is declared, Mary North leaves finishing school unfinished, goes straight to the War Office, and signs up.
Tom Shaw decides to give it a miss - until his flatmate, Alistair, unexpectedly enlists, and the conflict can no longer be avoided.
Young, bright and brave, Mary is certain she'd be a marvelous spy. When she is - bewilderingly - made a teacher, she instead finds herself defying prejudice to protect the children her country would rather forget.
Tom, meanwhile, finds that he will do anything for Mary. And when Mary and Alistair meet, it is love as well as war that will test them in ways they could not have imagined, entangling three lives in violence and passion, friendship and deception, inexorably shaping their hopes and dreams.
In a powerful combination of both humour and heartbreak, this dazzling novel weaves little-known history and a perfect love story through the vast sweep of the Second World War - daring us to understand that against the great theatre of world events, it is the intimate losses, the small battles, the daily human triumphs that change us most.
©2016 Chris Cleave (P)2016 Hodder & Stoughton
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

By Black Mary on 06-10-16

An astonishing blend of laughter and pain.

This book took me completely by surprise. I listened to the first few chapters several times and It still made me laugh out loud with delight.
As the war progresses and the confidence and certainty of the main characters begins to disintegrate, the brilliant colours of the opening chapters darken and fade. The humour, which is always present, becomes bleaker and sharper.
I love the fact that Tom's jar of Blackberry jam takes on the significance of preserving colour and ultimately, redemption.
The narration was extraordinary. It was hard to believe there was only one narrator, so skilfully did Luke Thompson inhabit the different characters.
I cannot recommend this audible book enough.

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53 of 57 people found this review helpful


By sarahmoose2000 on 11-12-16

Eye Opener

I never really appreciated how horrendous WWII was, I studied it at school like most people did but the range of emotions this book brought out it me was huge.

I felt the fear that Alasdair did when in Dunkirk and the trenches and anger at the silly, immature girls wanting to go and view the bombing sites as they thought it was exciting instead of being sorry at the great loss of the residents, and then a part of the evacuation process that I was unaware of, the almost racist aspect to it. Coloured children and the mentally and physically disabled were left behind in the cities when the able bodied kids were evacuated to the country. So many emotions will provoke you here, I really recommend it.

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2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

By Gayle Mason on 06-23-17

Stunning

I simply loved this book. Beautifully evocative. I fell in love with the characters.
Treat yourself and read this book.

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By Fiona O'Connell on 12-31-16

One of the best!

A wonderful story very well written. Both humorous and heartbreaking with outstanding narration by Luke Thompson.

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