I’m delighted to be co-hosting today’s stop on the blog tour for A Ration Book Childhood by Jean Fullerton alongside my tour buddies Joules at Northern Reader and Cal at Cal Turner Reviews. A Ration Book Childhood is the third book in the series featuring East End family, the Brogans.
Thanks to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to take part in the tour and to Corvus for my review copy, inscribed by the author.
About the Book
In the darkest days of the Blitz, family is more important than ever.
With her family struggling amidst the nightly bombing raids in London’s East End, Ida Brogan is doing her very best to keep their spirits up. The Blitz has hit the Brogans hard, and rationing is more challenging than ever, but they are doing all they can to help the war effort.
When Ida’s oldest friend Ellen returns to town, sick and in dire need of help, it is to Ida that she turns. But Ellen carries a secret, one that threatens not only Ida’s marriage, but the entire foundation of the Brogan family. Can Ida let go of the past and see a way to forgive her friend? And can she overcome her sadness to find a place in her heart for a little boy, one who will need a mother more than ever in these dark times?
Format: Paperback (400 pp.) Publisher: Corvus
Publication date: 3rd October 2019 Genre: Historical Fiction, Saga
Find A Ration Book Childhood on Goodreads
I really enjoyed the previous book in the series, A Ration Book Christmas, so it was a pleasure to be reunited with the Brogan clan. However, readers new to the series need not worry as they’ll soon be familiar with the members of the family and key events from previous books.
This time the focus is very much on Ida and Jerimiah as secrets and sins of the past threaten their previously rock strong marriage, something their children have up until now taken for granted. And, it turns out, others have secrets too. Sadly, not every problem can be solved with a nice cup of tea. However, when it comes to it, “Family is family”.
Once again, I was impressed with the way the author conjured up the atmosphere of wartime London – the nightly blackout, the interminable queuing, rationing (hence the spam sandwiches and eggless cake), and nights spent in crowded air raid shelters with little privacy. There’s also a real feeling of authenticity created by the little details of daily domestic life – the outside privy, the family’s ‘smalls’ piled in an enamel bucket under the sink waiting for wash day, listening to the BBC Home Service on the radio.
The book is a reminder that the fortitude of those on the ‘Home Front’ was in many ways just as great as those serving in the Army, Navy and Air Force. Like so many other families during this period, the Brogans live with constant uncertainty about the fate of loved ones serving overseas and are involved in war work that is often just as dangerous: fire-watching, driving ambulances, serving in the Home Guard.
As with the last book, there’s humour to lighten the mood. For example, this description of the most prominent feature of Ida’s wayward daughter-in-law, Stella (nee Miggles) – her breasts. ‘Tonight, like a pair of pink torpedoes, these were pushed up beneath the tight, sweetheart neckline of her figure-hugging dress as if ready to fire at someone. Someone, that is, wearing trousers.‘ And I’m pleased to say there’s the return of the fabulous matriarch of the Brogan clan, Queenie – reader of tea leaves, purveyor of wisdom… and horse-racing tips. Her showdown with Ida’s snooty sister Pearl is one of my absolute favourite scenes in the book.
As Christmas approaches, there are money worries and more serious concerns than what to serve for the festive feast. For Ida especially, there are difficult choices to be made. And if you’re not a bit blurry-eyed at the end of the book then you really do have a heart of stone.
In A Ration Book Childhood, Jean Fullerton delivers another heart-warming story of daily life in the East End of London during World War 2. If you want to get a real sense of what it was like to live during this period in our history, this is the series for you. (Oh, and a shout out to the designer of the book cover for use of a vintage image rather than present-day models dressed in costumes from the period who, to my mind, never manage to look authentically of that time.)
I received an advance review copy courtesy of Corvus.
In three words: Heart-warming, engaging, authentic
Try something similar: A Ration Book Christmas by Jean Fullerton (read my review here)
About the Author
Jean Fullerton is the author of twelve novels all set in East London where she was born. She is also a retired district nurse and university lecturer. She won the Harry Bowling Prize in 2006 and after initially signing for two East London historical series with Orion she moved to Corvus, part of Atlantic Publishing and is half way through her WW2 East London series featuring the Brogan family.