on November 9th, 2018
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As Hitler’s relentless bombs begin to fall during the Blitz of Coventry, six-year-old Rose Sherbourne finds herself orphaned and under the guardianship of a Cornish farmer's daughter, Elenor Cardew.
Elenor knows that the only way to protect spirited Rose is to leave their home in Coventry and make a new life for themselves away from harm. But as they begin a new life in rural Cornwall, Elenor discovers that Hitler’s firestorm is not the only thing she must fear, when she learns a devastating secret about Rose…
With Rose’s life in imminent danger, Elenor turns to the only person she can trust to keep the deadly secret, heroic Canadian pilot, Jackson St John. And amidst the destruction of war, an unlikely romance blossoms as they find a way to protect the child they have both grown to love…and each other.
~~Reviewed by Monique~~
The synopsis for THE SECRET ORPHAN had immediately grabbed my attention, and judging by the first chapter, it sounded like a book I would really enjoy. Chapter two – which should have been the epilogue – is dated November 2018; thankfully, from then on, the story follows a linear pattern, going back to 1938. I found the book description somewhat misleading because the “secret” part really begins only in the last seventy percent of the story. Before that, it’s mostly about Elenor’s life in Coventry and on her farm in Cornwall. Jackson and Rose do not feature prominently for most of the story.
Ms. Peters’ descriptions are crystal clear, however, I felt the characters lacked definition, and some also displayed behaviour inconsistent with how they had previously been portrayed, particularly Elenor’s brothers who seemed to have been introduced mostly for plot purposes. One character, Dottie, appeared to have been added mainly to be the object of ridicule; even when she proved to be a hard worker and admired for being so, it stopped no one from laughing at her. I, personally, was not amused. The lively dialogues were definitely the highlights of the book, while the narrative conveyed very little emotion; I felt I was merely observing the lives of these people.
The historical facts seemed accurate, apart from the “Canadian Air Forces”, which have been the “Royal Canadian Air Forces” since 1924, commonly referred to as the RCAF. I also hope that in the final version, Elenor will not be “peddling” six times on her bicycle; she never pedalled. The pacing was also problematic as events were slowly set up to be dealt with in a few paragraphs, and the intrigue was rather predictable. If you’re eager to read a novel about a young woman’s life in Coventry and her day-to-day life on a Cornish farm far from the real horrors of war, this book is for you.
I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.