There are two musts for an historical novel – a feel for the period, and a feel for place. Sarah Tate’s first book has both these essential ingredients. Agnes has been living with her grandmother in London after the death of her parents in a torpedoed ship. She is loved and looked after both by Eleanor, her grandmother, and by Dilly, the Jamaican woman who keeps house. But Eleanor is killed when a bomb falls on their home, and although Dilly wants to look after her, social services intervene and arrange to take Agnes to an orphanage. But Agnes has relatives in France and she is determined to find them. Although things go quite well for Agnes, there are some harrowing moments in her journey through the war-torn France of 1943. The danger faced by the Resistance fighters is clearly spelled out. Agnes’ meeting with the Resistance leader, known as the Wolf, flag up to the reader that perhaps the ending may go well, but it is not until the last pages that this is revealed. France is lovingly portrayed but this book could have done with a map!
This is a story with a resourceful heroine and some truly awful villains but it also shows the strength of family ties and how Agnes’ French grandparents kept faith with their ‘lost’ family. There is a terrific jacket with glimpses of a map!