This post was originally published at Novelicious.com and is now at WritingTipsOasis.com. WritingTipsOasis.com acquired Novelicious.com in June 2022.
The novel is a dual time-frame novel and focuses on the Second World War and the present(ish) day. It is romantic, heartbreaking and full of wonderful, well-drawn characters.
Dan and Stella meet during the Second World War and fall desperately in love. It's a really bad idea. Not just because Stella is married, but because Dan is an American B-17 bomber pilot, whose chance of surviving all of his 25 missions is just one in five.
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But he does survive. And now, in the present, time is running out for him. He's desperate to find Stella, his true love, and sends a letter to the last address he had for her. It is found by Jess who is running away from a troubled relationship and sheltering at the house. She's compelled to help Dan out, and, in doing so, begins a love story of her own.
Iona beautifully weaves in food to evoke the time of the novel. And, as is the case for Stella cooking during the Second World War, where she is trying to stretch the food as far as she can, it is also the lack of food that gives you a real sense of the time period.
I chose Genoa cake because it's an old-fashioned cake you don't hear about much nowadays, and the inclusion of it in the novel gives it, amongst many other wartime food mentions, that taste of what it must have been like during wartime London.
It isn't just the Genoa cake, though. Iona also weaves in Woolten Pie, eggless sponge, the joy of tinned peaches, bloater paste … With food, Iona has captured a fascinating time in our history in such mouthwatering detail.
Well, except for the bloater paste.The following, adapted from a Second World War recipe, gives you enough mixture for two Genoa cakes. One for now and one for the freezer. If you just want one then half the recipe.
2lb loaf baking tin, lined.
225g caster sugar
340g self-raising flour
50g candied peel*
50g glace cherries, snipped into small pieces*
*Or variations of dried fruit. You could also add in flaked almonds.
- Pre-heat the oven to 140 fan.
- Cream the butter with the sugar.
- Add the eggs, with a little of the flour to stop the mixture splitting.
- Add the rest of the flour – reserving one tablespoon. Mix.
- Place all your dried fruit into a bowl and sprinkle the tablespoon of flour over. This will stop the fruit sinking to the bottom of the cake.
- Add the fruit to the cake batter and mix.
- Divide into two lined loaf tins and place in the oven for one hour.
- After an hour, check to see if cooked by pressing your finger lightly onto the sponge. If it springs back it is done. You can also insert a skewer into the centre of the cake. It should come out clean.
- Serve. With a nice cup of tea.