Welcome to today’s stop on the blog tour for A Ration Book Wedding by Jean Fullerton. My thanks to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to take part in the tour and to Corvus for my review copy via NetGalley.
About the Book
Because in the darkest days of the Blitz, love is more important than ever.
It’s February 1942 and the Americans have finally joined Britain and its allies. Meanwhile, twenty-three-year-old Francesca Fabrino, like thousands of other women, is doing her bit for the war effort in a factory in East London. But her thoughts are constantly occupied by her unrequited love for Charlie Brogan, who has recently married a woman of questionable reputation, before being shipped out to North Africa with the Eighth Army.
When Francesca starts a new job as an Italian translator for the BBC Overseas Department, she meets handsome Count Leonardo D’Angelo. Just as Francesca has begun to put her hopeless love for Charlie to one side and embrace the affections of this charming and impressive man, Charlie returns from the front, his marriage in ruins and his heart burning for Francesca at last.
Could she, a good Catholic girl, countenance an illicit affair with the man she has always longed for? Or should she choose a different, less dangerous path?
Format: eARC (416 pages) Publisher: Corvus Books
Publication date: 7th May 2020 Genre: Historical Fiction, Romance
Find A Ration Book Wedding on Goodreads
Having very much enjoyed two of the previous books in the series, A Ration Book Christmas and A Ration Book Childhood (I’ve yet to read the first book, A Pocketful of Dreams), it was a pleasure to be reunited with the spirited Brogan family. Although A Ration Book Wedding picks up some of the storylines from the previous book, it can definitely be enjoyed as a standalone and, for new readers, there are brief recaps of previous events inserted unobtrusively by the author.
The focus of this book is Francesca, best friend of Mattie, one of the daughters of the Brogan household. Francesca has always nursed a secret passion for Mattie’s charming but slightly ne’er do well brother, Charlie, now married to Stella. Formerly the gloriously named Stella Miggles, Stella is, let us say, ‘no better than she ought to be’ and is harbouring a secret about her singular contribution to the war effort she hopes won’t get back to Charlie. She is also decidedly short on maternal affection towards their young son, Patrick.
As certain unsavoury individuals learn to their cost, the Brogans look after their own. Matriarch of the clan, Queenie, is a one woman force to be reckoned with. I suspect I won’t have been the only reader silently mouthing ‘Go Queenie!’ at one particular point in proceedings.
As with previous books in the series, the atmosphere of wartime London is vividly evoked, from the details of daily life – rationing, the blackout, war work, the National Loaf, nights spent in bomb shelters – to the scenes of blitzed streets and bombed out buildings. Even John Lewis Oxford Street doesn’t escape the wrath of the Luftwaffe. What sacrilege!
I loved learning facts about wartime Britain such as that Ministry of Food regulations restricted restaurants to offering only two vegetable dishes with a meal or that factories manufacturing components were constructed in the tunnels of the Underground.
When Francesca gets a job as a translator at the BBC – much to the dismay of her father who holds an old-fashioned view of a woman’s role – it not only brings her into contact with the dashing Count D’Angelo but provides the opportunity for a fascinating insight into broadcasting operations during the war.
As Francesca helps with preparations for the wedding of Mattie’s sister, Jo, she ponders on her own romantic opportunities. When fate intervenes to make something attainable that seemed previously unattainable, her decision becomes more difficult. Should it be dinner at Claridges or a pie and mash supper? What does Francesca choose? You’ll have to read the book to find out.
A Ration Book Wedding is another drama-filled visit to the larger-than-life Brogan family and a vivid insight into daily life for Londoners during World War 2. Love, betrayal, happiness, sorrow – the book has it all. Oh, and steamed pigs’ hearts, braised liver and mash, and plenty of bread and dripping.
In three words: Dramatic, authentic, emotional
Try something similar: The Walls We Build by Jules Hayes
About the Author
Jean Fullerton is the author of thirteen novels all set in East London where she was born. She’s 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 halfway through her WW2 East London series featuring the Brogan family.