Stories of women in World War II



I was planning to talk to you about a historical novel that I love very much, but had trouble picking one since this is by far my favourite genre. So I decided to write about three of them that have a theme in common: they all tell the stories of women living in Europe during World War II.


The first, Coming Home by Rosamund Pilcher, has been a favourite of mine for more than ten years:
Against the backdrop of an elegant Cornwall mansion before World War II and a vast continent-spanning canvas during the turbulent war years, this involving story tells of an extraordinary young woman's coming of age, coming to grips with love and sadness, and in every sense of the term, coming home...
In 1935, Judith Dunbar is left behind at a British boarding school when her mother and baby sister go off to join her father in Singapore. At Saint Ursula's, her friendship with Loveday Carey-Lewis sweeps her into the privileged, madcap world of the British aristocracy, teaching her about values, friendship, and wealth. But it will be the drama of war, as it wrenches Judith from those she cares about most, that will teach her about courage...and about love.
Teeming with marvelous, memorable characters in a novel that is a true masterpiece, Coming Home by Rosamunde Pilcher is a book to be savored, reread, and cherished forever.

The second, which I've discovered two years ago, is War Brides by Helen Bryant:
With war threatening to spread from Europe to England, the sleepy village of Crowmarsh Priors settles into a new sort of normal: Evacuees from London are billeted in local homes. Nightly air raids become grimly mundane. The tightening vice of rationing curtails every comfort. Men leave to fight and die. And five women forge an unlikely bond of friendship that will change their lives forever.  
Alice Osbourne, the stolid daughter of the late vicar, is reeling from the news that Richard Fairfax broke their engagement to marry Evangeline Fontaine, an American girl from the Deep South. Evangeline’s arrival causes a stir in the village—but not the chaos that would ensue if they knew her motives for being there. Scrappy Elsie Pigeon is among the poor of London who see the evacuations as a chance to escape a life of destitution. Another new arrival is Tanni Zayman, a young Jewish girl who fled the horrors of Europe and now waits with her newborn son, certain that the rest of her family is safe and bound to show up any day. And then there’s Frances Falconleigh, a madcap, fearless debutante whose father is determined to keep her in the countryside and out of the papers. 
As the war and its relentless hardships intensify around them, the same struggles that threaten to rip apart their lives also bring the five closer together. They draw strength from one another to defeat formidable enemies—hunger, falling bombs, the looming threat of a Nazi invasion, and a traitor in their midst—and find remarkable strength within themselves to help their friends. Theirs is a war-forged loyalty that will outlast the fiercest battle and endure years and distance. 
When four of the women return to Crowmarsh Priors for a VE Day celebration fifty years later, television cameras focus on the heartwarming story of these old women as war brides of a bygone age, but miss the more newsworthy angle. The women’s mission is not to commemorate or remember—they’ve returned to settle a score and avenge one of their own.

And the last, a very recent discovery, is Scent of Triumph by Jan Moran:
When French perfumer Danielle Bretancourt steps aboard a luxury ocean liner, leaving her son behind in Poland with his grandmother, she has no idea that her life is about to change forever. The year is 1939, and the declaration of war on the European continent soon threatens her beloved family, scattered across many countries. Traveling through London and Paris into occupied Poland, Danielle searches desperately for her the remains of her family, relying on the strength and support of Jonathan Newell-Grey, a young captain. Finally, she is forced to gather the fragments of her impoverished family and flee to America. There she vows to begin life anew, in 1940s Los Angeles. 
Through determination and talent, she rises high from meager jobs in her quest for success as a perfumer and fashion designer to Hollywood elite. Set between privileged lifestyles and gritty realities, Scent of Triumph is one woman's story of courage, spirit, and resilience.

I love how these three novels, as different as they can be, have endearing and inspiring characters that even as a woman born in 1992, I find myself sometimes identifying with. I love how the authors have all paid excellent attention to detail (a must for the historical novel genre), so much that I feel like I am travelling in time and space when I am reading. I also love details of their everyday lives (and, let's admit it, the descriptions of vintage clothes, a true delight!). Lastly I love the characters' evolution through the challenges they face during wartime, and the personal losses, heartbreaks and changes.

So if you are looking for something to read, I hope you will like any one of these three novels as much as I do!

I'd love to know, what are your favourite novels and genres?

Love,

S
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