Monday 28 April 2014

Room for a Stranger

Room for a Stranger by Ann Turnbull (Walker Books)
PB RRP $14.95
ISBN 9781406331059
Reviewed by Anastasia Gonis

The last book of this outstanding trilogy winds up in 1941. The two older girls have moved out and joined the WAAF. Father has died from lung disease. Lennie now fifteen years old, and the man of the house, works down in the mines, while Mother works screening and sorting.

When the war starts in 1939, and evacuees are billeted out to homes in the countryside, Rhoda Kelly comes into Doreen’s life. Intelligent, questioning and interested in everything, she shares Doreen’s room and eclipses her life.

Rhoda’s mother, an actress, is too absorbed in herself to care about her child. So Rhoda has also learnt to act and pretend, and has become far too confident and capable for a thirteen year old. It isn’t until Doreen sees the other side of Rhoda’s life that she comes to understand that everything isn’t always what it appears to be, and being loved is the greatest longing in every human life.

Here the trilogy comes full circle with the family making a life in whatever way possible to see out the war years. This impressive series was inspired by the local history of south-east London where the author grew up.  The excellent characters, strong narrative and great sense of time and place add credence to the fictional part of the story.  This series comes highly recommended.

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