I read another of Rosie Hendry’s novels earlier this year (The Mother’s Day Victory) and enjoyed it, so I was keen to read more of hers. A Wartime Welcome at Rookery House is the start of a new series, but features some characters from her previous books, so it was good to catch up with them, but can definitely be read as a standalone.
The book begins in London in October 1940. Genevieve Hamilton-Jones is 22 years old and works as a nurse, though secretly. The novel begins with a shocking reminder of what life was like in the Blitz and Genevieve’s narrow escape leads her to vow to live how she wants to, instead of only doing what others want her to do. She decides to continue her life as Evie Jones, moving on from the restrictions of living as Genevieve.
In Norfolk, Great Plumstead Hall is being made into a new Red Cross Military Hospital for injured servicemen. We meet Thea Thornton, who is 43 and works with the WVS. She has an older brother Reuben (51) and married younger sister Prue (39). When Evie arrives to work as a VAD nurse, she is billeted with the Thea at Rookery House. Hettie also lives there, plus Marianne and her baby daughter Emily.
There are a lot of characters introduced, but it’s easy enough to keep track of them all. Besides the wonderful Evie, I really loved Prue too, especially as she has found the courage to stand up to her horrible husband Victor. Life changes even more for Prue as evacuees Nancy and her daughters (Marie aged 8 and Joan aged 6) move in with them.
The novel is great for portraying a real feel for the 1940s, without it being a book “about the war.” The setting of the village of Great Plumstead is lovely too and the grand Hall. Mothers and children are evacuated from London and arrive in the Norfolk village to be welcomed by the women there. I find these kind of “home fires” WWII stories always show how strong the women of this time were. While they weren’t fighting on the front line, the work they did at home was essential.
The book hooked me from the first chapter – you’re straight into the action, with a scary reminder of what life was like in London in WWII. Genevieve’s story is intriguing too, you want to know why she is hiding working as a nurse. All this makes you eager to read on!
Overall, this book has everything I’m looking for – an interesting setting, a good story to tell and a host of believable characters you care about.
BLURB – A Wartime Welcome at Rookery House
Follow the much-loved characters from the award winning MOTHER’S DAY CLUB in a brand-new World War Two saga series.
When VAD nurse Evie narrowly avoids being killed in an air raid during the Blitz, it propels her to make a life-changing decision to break free of her troubled and unhappy life. She escapes to the Norfolk countryside to start afresh, with a job at the newly opened Great Plumstead Hall hospital, and a wonderful new home at Rookery House.
The community of Great Plumstead welcomes more evacuees to the village – mothers and children bombed out of their London homes. Sisters Prue and Thea, along with members of The Mother’s Day Club, help the new arrivals settle in, while continuing their work for the war effort by holding knitting bees, socials and doing WVS work.
Evie is happy in her new life – she loves living at Rookery House and enjoys her job at the hospital, despite working for the difficult Matron Reed. But when a patient arrives who knew her in her former life, Evie’s new-found freedom and happiness is in danger. Will the secrets of Evie’s past be revealed, and the problems from her old life return to trouble her once more?
Purchase Links – https://amazon.co.uk/dp/B09R2KB6NV
Author Bio – Rosie Hendry lives by the sea in North Norfolk with her husband and children. She writes uplifting, heart-warming historical fiction based on true events from our social history. Listening to her father’s tales of life during the Second World War sparked her interest in this period and she loves researching further, seeking out gems of real-life stories which inspire her writing.
Social Media Links – https://www.facebook.com/RosieHendrybooks