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, present day: Helen Cavendish’s relationship with her mother has always been strained. Her mother is quiet and stoic, with no other family to speak of, but as Helen goes through her mother’s possessions, packing her up to move her to a care home, she finds photographs of two little evacuee girls that will change everything she thought she knew…
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. 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? It’s a choice that is destined to affect her family for generations…
This sad story of a family with terrible secrets, centres on misunderstanding countered by enduring love. Helen and her older sister Laura must co-operate as they clear their mother’s house but for years they have felt estranged by their mother’s preference for one daughter over the other. Black Moor Hall in Devon was the home they moved to from London after their father died and not all their memories are good.
Moving to 1940 we encounter two other sisters, Daisy and her much loved younger sibling, Peggy. After bombing increases in London their mother puts them on a train to the safety of evacuation in Devon, but when their mother dies, no-one knows where they are. Circumstances put them on a run-down farm where they are expected to work in the fields rather than go to school.
As Helen and Laura try to discover more of their mother’s life they come upon photographs and letters and soon we are able to read Daisy’s story in her own words. It is distressing to read about her wartime experiences, but Helen and Laura are grateful to know more about their mother and inevitably they grow closer. The conclusion is a life-enhancing and satisfactory ending to the story.
The Runaway Sisters on Amazon UK
My Review of The Lake Pavilion by Ann Bennett
Ann Bennett was born in Northamptonshire, UK 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 Bamboo Island) a Daughter’s Promise and The Homecoming, (formerly Bamboo Road), The Tea Panter’s Club and The Amulet are also about the war in South East Asia, all six making up the Echoes of Empire Collection.
Ann is also author of The Orphan House, published by Bookouture. The idea for that book came from researching her great-grandfather, Brice Bennett, who was headmaster of a county school for pauper children in Wargrave, Berkshire.
The Lake Pavilion, set in British India in the 1930s and wartime England, was published in April 2021 and The Lake Pagoda followed this year.
Ann is married with three grown up sons and works as a lawyer. For more details please visit www.bambooheart.co.uk