It seems that I’ve been reading a lot of World War 2 historical novels recently. After Beyond the Horizon which I enjoyed immensely, I was lucky to read The Wartime Nanny which was also so riveting!
The Wartime Nanny
The Nazis are everywhere now. We must leave Vienna. It might be that soon our letters won’t get out anymore. Can you help, dear sister? Please, ask for us. Send news, and quickly. Please.
London, 1938. Sixteen-year-old Natalie Leeman takes the heart-breaking decision to leave her family behind in Vienna and travel to England to join her cousin Leah in service. Natalie is placed with a wealthy suburban family, the Caplins, as a nanny to their energetic six-year-old.
At first, Natalie is delighted by the huge house and beautiful gardens, but things aren’t as perfect as they seem. While Natalie dotes on their child, she is increasingly wary of Mr Caplin, whose gruff manor and fascist politics scare her. And then there are those still waiting at home – Mama and her two sisters, as well as a blossoming romance with her English tutor that had only just begun.
But when Vienna falls under Nazi rule, Natalie begins to fear for her family, especially her vivacious, tomboy little sister Libby. Then rumours of a possible escape route from mainland Europe called the kindertransport begin to swirl – can Natalie help her family escape the Nazis before it’s too late?
A heartbreaking wartime novel – emotional and unforgettable. Perfect for fans of The Alice Network, The Tattooist of Auschwitz and Before We Were Yours.
We follow young Natalie as she travels from Austria to London and watch her grow from a teenager into a young woman. As a naive young girl she tries to make the best of her situation, enjoying her role as her nanny to young Hugo, yet longing for Vienna, her family and the boy she loved.
In many ways this is a coming of age story too as Natalie learns not to take everything and everyone at face value. She’s reluctant to believe that the Nazis will be as cruel as people seem to believe. She learns the hard way that they are cruel beyond imagination and that anti-Semitism is rife even in London. Her interactions with Hugo’s father and mother are based on her very shallow perceptions and once again she is challenged when she realizes that neither of them are what they seemed to be. Her judgement of Erich too leads to pain. She had the same experience her cousin, Leah, and Molly, the maid.
I like the development of characters in this novel and how people can grow positively even in the darkest of circumstances. The change in not just Natalie, but her cousin Leah too is remarkable. How love and attention can make people glow is evidenced in Hugo’s behaviour when Natalie is around.
Despite all the darkness of the situation in the world and in Natalie’s world especially, the book has humour too as she struggles with the nuances of the English language.
For me, what really tugged at my heartstrings was how hard Natalie tried to keep the promise to her mother to be ‘good’.
When the cover of a book says that it is unputdownable, you begin to wonder if that’s really true. Then you read it and discover that it is a fact! Will be looking out for more books from this author.
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About the author
Lizzie loves reading ALL the books and has always loved reading the adventures of women in the past so it seemed natural to her to write historical fiction.
She lives with her family by the sea in South East England. And with her dog. She enjoys traveling and lived in Japan for several years. Lizzie has had lots of different jobs from waitressing and teaching to admin and bingo-calling – but being a writer is her absolute favourite.
She’d love to hear what you think of her books – feel free to send her a message on Twitter or on Facebook or leave a review on amazon.
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Thank you to NetGalley and Bookouture for a chance to read this book. All opinions are my own.