14-year-old Isabella lives with her family on Cable Street. Her mother is Spanish and her father is English. It is 1936, and the civil war in Spain has just started. There are also tensions on Cable Street because many people are out of work. The British Union of Fascists has seized this opportunity and has started canvassing the area for support.
Isabella’s older brother, William, decides to go to Spain to help the Republicans fight against the Nationalists. This leaves the family anxious for his safety. Isabella is also worried about her other brother, Arthur. He has become very secretive and goes out a lot. Isabella fears that he has got mixed up with the fascist Blackshirts. She is determined to find out the truth. This leads her to the handsome and charismatic Rupert. But Rupert stands for everything that Isabella hates. Meanwhile there have been riots on Cable Street, and some Jewish properties have been destroyed.
Isabella just wants to see both of her brothers safely back home. But what will happen to them? They are divided by political beliefs, and fighting for very different causes at a time when everything is changing and the future is uncertain.
This is an extremely enjoyable coming-of-age story. The writing vividly evokes 1930s London and brings the historical period to life. The narrative is threaded with a strong sense of social realism as well as being historically accurate. The plot is dynamic and exciting, involving the reader throughout. Young readers will easily identify with Isabella. She is a strong and very likeable heroine, who is not only adventurous but also unafraid of making difficult choices. Once again, Trouble on Cable Street shows Joan Lingard’s ability as a consummate story-teller.