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In Green Pastures-bookcover

By: Rosie Simpson

In Green Pastures

Pages: 242 Ratings: 4.7
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In 1917, war rages on in Belgium and France, and German bombs fall on East London. Two sisters, Florence and Nell, living in Stratford, arrange to leave the city for the tranquillity of the North Essex countryside.

For Florence Mundy, fleeing personal demons and the imminent return of Harry, departure from London cannot come soon enough.

Nell Ashford has the safety of her five children on her mind while George is away at the Front.

In Halstead, lying peacefully in the Colne Valley, they find new challenges, friendship and pain as well as personal fulfilment. Florence discovers salvation and hard work in the newly formed Women’s Land Army while Nell takes on the role of breadwinner to her family.

But they cannot escape the consequences of the Great War and the arrival of German Prisoners of War changes the dynamics of Halstead life and Florence’s future prospects as the armistice approaches.

Rosie Simpson has a lifelong passion for words and storytelling, writing travel diaries and magazine features as a freelance journalist and teaching English to students of many nationalities. She lives in lovely rural Sussex with her husband, Tim, and dog, Flora. She has a grownup daughter and son, a granddaughter, Josephine, and a grandson, Ivor. This is her first novel.

Customer Reviews
14 reviews
14 reviews
  • Sue Bartle

    I found this book a most engaging account of how life during the first world war affected the domestic lives of those left to keep the home fires burning. A perceptive and fascinating insight into rural living with all its demands and the sense of responsibility to support the war effort. A voyage of discovery for Florence and her sister Nell as they leave the danger threatening their lives in London for the Essex countryside. Full of atmosphere and the inevitable ups and downs of new challenges. There are painful reminders of the horrors of this war but Rosie Simpson maintains warmth and an overriding feeling of mutual affection and support through developing relationships.

  • Timothy John

    In Green Pastures is a well-told tale of the people left at home during WW1. While the horrific carnage of the trenches has been well documented, the wives, girlfriends and families of the soldiers are less well known. The story paints a rich picture of an East End family who seeks security in the Essex countryside during the last year of the war. Although the conflict sometimes seems far away to Nell, her five young children, and to her sister Florence, the male characters bring home the horror and futility of the battle.

    IGP grips the reader on many levels. Florence’s growth as a woman is entirely believable, her experiences before and during her time in the WLA put the reader on her side, wanting her to find fulfilment – which she satisfyingly does. The many challenges faced by farmers Frank and Annie create a rich backdrop to the story. And the newly discovered enjoyment of country life for Nell and her children provide an enchanting counterpoint to Florence’s story. Writer Rosie Simpson brings all these threads together in a satisfying and surprising conclusion.

    I found this a really interesting and different story, peopled with characters I liked getting to know. And by the end I found myself rooting for them all as they face the challenges to come. I hope you enjoy In Green Pastures as much as I did.

  • Sarah Wheeler

    A really charming book with well-drawn characters that are easy to warm and a gentle, well-told story. The experiences and day to day lives of Flo and her family and the farming community of Halstead are brought to life with the author's loving descriptions of the countryside and the rigours of farming life. There are snippets of information cleverly weaved into the storyline from music, farming, literature and poetry which I found most enjoyable. The peaceful refuge of Halstead and the happiness found in simple pleasures is a poignant contrast to the horrors of the trenches. As the story draws to a close there is sadness but there is also hope. I very much enjoyed reading it. In these tricky times, it is a timely reminder that the human spirit and friendship can help see us all through tough times.

  • Helen Farrow

    As described in the synopsis, the story is set against the backdrop of the First World War. As the ravages of the bombing raids take their toll on London, the reader knows they are approaching the final throws of the conflict. However, for Nell Ashford the dangers are ongoing and the safety of her family is at the forefront of her mind as she makes the decision to pack up and move into the unfamiliar countryside for respite. She demonstrates courage, tenacity and subsequently enterprise as she struggles alone for the survival of her five children whilst her husband faces his own battles in France. They are joined by her sister Florence, who welcomes the change of scene as an opportunity to help her family and as an escape from troubles of her own.
    Rosie Simpson’s extensive knowledge of the countryside provides reality and depth to her depiction of the very different and beautiful environment the family find themselves in. I enjoyed the use of Grace, a sensitive middle child, who writes her experiences down in a diary to show to her father, whose absence she feels so acutely, which lends a refreshing insight into a child’s perspective of a very troubled adult world.
    The restorative qualities of nature are demonstrated as the novel deftly describes how the family flourish and the healing process begins, not only for the individual characters but society as a whole, with the integration of a German prisoner of war into family life and the community. I found the sensitive handling of Wilf’s rehabilitation process particularly moving as the writer bravely tackles the morality of war and the devastating damage, both physical and mental it inevitably brings.
    This is an engaging tale of a family’s capacity to survive and flourish in the face of adversity and the ability to keep their hopes alive as they embark their different paths to face the future.

  • Jay Simson

    In Green Pastures is a beautifully told story of life at home towards the end of WW1. We travel beside Florence Mundy as her hopes and dreams in London are rudely shattered although not by the bombing. She leaves with her sister, nephews and nieces to join their cousin for a new life in Halstead, Essex. Her confidence and self esteem are restored with her family and new friends. Hard and vital work as a Land Girl with tenant farmers Frank and Annie broadens her horizons and gives her a sense of purpose and deep satisfaction.
    Flo is immensely likeable as witnessed by her warm friendships particularly with her niece, Grace, and with farmers Frank and Annie. It is no surprise that a young army officer falls for her giving her some soul-searching when he returns to the front.
    Flo's journey unfolds at a perfect pace, holding the reader's attention without a sense of undue haste.Each short chapter promotes curiosity for the next.The author's research is detailed and totally convincing particularly in her descriptions of the privations of families whose men have gone to war, of the mental and physical injuries for some of the participants and of farming life even down to managing a horse-drawn plough.
    A powerful though understated anti-war message runs through this book but a rich measure of hope, courage and happiness give the reader a warm sense of pleasure which lasts well beyond the last page.

  • Lesley Drummond

    I so enjoyed this book, which introduces us to Florence, a single woman trying to build an independent life for herself in London during the First World War. We also meet her sister, Nell, who has to raise five children single-handedly after her husband is sent to the Front. As the bombing raids on London get closer to home, Nell decides to move her family to the countryside. By this time Florence has personal reasons for wanting to escape from London.
    The sisters and Nell’s children grow and flourish in their rural retreat. Florence, in particular, develops as she becomes a Land Girl and joins Annie and Frank Davis on their farm. The long hours, arduous work, love of the land and the knowledge that her contribution is appreciated and invaluable, helps to bolster her self-esteem.
    For the most part, the war is kept in the background but then Wilf Davis returns from the Front injured and traumatised and his parents can’t seem to reach him or help him. In a very moving scene, it is Holger, the German prisoner of war who works on the farm, who is able to get him to talk.
    By the end of the book, I felt very involved in the lives of the characters and wanted to know how they would fare in the future.

  • To Green Pastures

    This is an uplifting story of one family resilience during the 1st World War.
    Florence & her sister Nell plus her five children decide to leave Stratford in East London for the relative tranquillity of the North Essex Countryside.
    Here their life unfolds. Initially, Nell finds the responsibility of the children daunting without her husband George, however, they soon settle into their new schools in Halstead where they excel & Nell takes on a part-time job.
    Florence joins the land army and despite a previous job in a book shop throws her heart and soul into this and soon becomes invaluable to the farmers, whose son, Wilf is away at war. On his return home, he is very traumatised by his experiences.
    This is a well-researched book and Rosie has written it with great sensitivity. It is an evolving read and one feels compelled to move on to the next chapter.

  • Claire Carter

    Set during the First World War we are introduced to sisters Nell and Florence who are both coping with individual struggles. Nell is left with 5 children when husband George is sent to the front. Meanwhile, Florence is emotionally fragile after the unwanted advances of Harry Bartholomew. With the continuous bombings in London, the sister along with the children move to rural Essex and their lives are much improved. Rosie Simpson's description of their lives in the countryside is beautifully graphic and detailed. Florence joins the Land Army and goes to work for Anne and Frank Davis on their farm. She thrives on the long hours and hard work, growing in personal confidence. She works alongside Holger, a German POW. Although the war is not the actual main topic of the novel, the treatment of Holger by some locals and the return from the front of wounded Wilf Davis gives us an insight into some of the horrors at the time... A sensitive novel, dealing with families facing difficult and realistic emotions such as the sisters fall out for a period of time. I found it an enjoyable read and I finished the book wanting more. I do hope Rosie Simpson will be writing a follow-up novel to explain what happened to the characters as the years went by - did George return safely from the war? Did Wilf overcome the terrible demons of the front? Finally, did Florence and Holger find lasting happiness together?

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