The Girl is the second instalment of Elizabeth Uywin's Voices from the Past trilogy. It wasn't just the destruction caused by World War Two which left the city of London in chaos. Poverty and family disharmony were commonplace even before the Second World War, and children in particular became victims of circumstances beyond their control. This is the tale of one such child, a child born to a docker's family in Walworth Road, called Mary, who was consoled and comforted by the invincible love of her brother, Roy, a brother who followed her into Reedham Orphanage where they both endured isolation and despair. As she grew into a young woman, with desires and dreams of her own, her powers of endurance were tested to the utmost limit, as relationships were thrown into chaos due to war and betrayal. Voices from the Past: The Girl is no ordinary book; it is a book for those who wish to have a glimpse into East London life through three decades. It is a story written about a family who actually lived and died due to human conflict and poverty. Yet most of all, it is a story about one woman, a woman who wages her own war, against tremendous odds… for survival.
Voices From The Past - The Girl by Elizabeth Uywin is the second book in the Voices From The Past trilogy. It focuses on the years 1938-1940.
As the dates suggest, England is heading towards war even as ‘peace in our time’ is celebrated. Life continues but everyone is aware that now is the time to grab little pockets of happiness. “If happiness calls, you must give it a comfortable seat – before it’s too late.”
Despite their poverty, Londoners are proud people with appearances being everything. Pregnancies in a single girl are frowned upon by some, whilst being welcomed by others.
Mary Cole is back home but only for a short time as children are evacuated with the declaration of war. Memories of Reedham orphanage loom large in Mary Cole’s mind and she fears what lies ahead. Some children did have a bad experience and the reader reads within trepidation as to what lies ahead. Evacuees heading to Brighton meet a Salvation Army officer who declares “our house is as large as God’s mansion when it comes to His work.” He is clearly operating as the hands and feet, the eyes and ears of Jesus.
The second half of the book is finely balanced between the happy days in Brighton for the evacuees and the terrible conditions, the fear and uncertainty facing the soldiers in Nazi-occupied France. The two situations are finely balanced and exist in tension.
Voices From The Past is a marvellous trilogy that I just cannot get enough of. Elizabeth Uywin writes with power and passion capturing the reader’s attention from the start.
I received a free copy from Austin Macauley. A favourable review was not required. All opinions are my own.
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