Close on the heels of The Wartime Nanny, I just finished reading The Runaway Sisters, another World War 2 historical novel.
The Runaway Sisters
The story of two sisters fighting to survive in the darkest days of World War Two. A heartbreaking tale of resilience and bravery, about having the courage to sacrifice yourself in order to save the ones you love…
Devon, 1940: When fifteen-year-old Daisy is evacuated from her home in London, she knows she must look after her younger sister Peggy. She is the only one who can reassure Peggy that life will go back to normal, holding her close and reading to her from their one battered children’s book.
But when the sisters are taken into the countryside, Daisy quickly realises that not everyone at home is on the right side of the war. Forced to work in fields alongside orphan children, she finds herself drawn to a young boy called John, who has tried and failed to escape many times before. He protects the other children, and his bravery inspires Daisy.
Then Peggy gets sick and Daisy knows that, to save her life, they must run away. But now Peggy is not the only one Daisy is desperate to protect. As the sounds of German engines grow louder above her, Daisy is faced with an impossible choice: escape with just her sister, or risk her life to save others?
Perfect for fans of Lisa Wingate, Diney Costeloe and Shirley Dickson, The Runaway Sisters is a tale of heartwrenching loss and uplifting courage. It’s a story about family, and the light that can be found in the dark clouds of war.
This was a very difficult book to read, not because it was badly written! On the contrary. Child abuse is always a difficult subject to read about. The story was so believable and plausible and the descriptions so graphic that it made it hard to go through some parts of it.
I haven’t read too many stories of wartime atrocities within the UK. But here is a story of two sisters, evacuees from the London bombings, who were fooled into believing that they were being taken into care. Instead they ended up tortured and abused as they were put to work in the fields.
The love and concern of Daisy for her weaker sister, Peggy is heartbreaking. Daisy comes off as being such a strong character who will do anything to keep Peggy from being abused. John too is a wonderful character that is ready to risk his life for the other children. Even the ‘bad’ characters are very well etched out.
The book is really about the war of good over evil but somehow everyone seems to lose in the end. The childhood trauma scarred Daisy so badly that she does all she can to shield her own children from it. It’s only in her old age, that her daughters accidentally discover all she has been through and all she hid from them.
The story ends on a positive and hopeful note. However, I would have liked this to be a little more drawn out. It seemed a little rushed. It’s for this reason alone that I’m rating the book at 3.5, or I would have given it a 4 star rating.
About the Author
Ann Bennett was born in a small village in Northamptonshire and now lives in Surrey. Her first book, A Daughter’s Quest, originally published as Bamboo Heart, was inspired by her father’s experience as a prisoner of war on the Thai-Burma Railway. The Planter’s Wife (originally published as Bamboo Island) a Daughter’s Promise and The Homecoming, (formerly Bamboo Road) are also about the war in South East Asia.
Ann is married with three grown up sons and works as a lawyer. For more details please visit her website and connect with her on Twitter and Facebook.
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Thank you to NetGalley and Bookouture for a copy of “The Runaway Sisters” in exchange for my honest review.