This post was originally published at Novelicious.com and is now at WritingTipsOasis.com. WritingTipsOasis.com acquired Novelicious.com in June 2022.
REVIEWED BY DEBS CARR
It's 1914, and the last decade hasn't been easy for Martha Rossi. Since her husband's accident ten years before, their circumstances have been reduced until sometimes she even has difficulty finding enough food to feed her family. While Carlo spends his time in silent misery, Martha works and supports her children as well as she's able to. Her older son, Frank, spends most of his time either with different women, or getting up to mischief. Her daughter, Joyce, is doing her best to improve her lifestyle and the rest of the family get along as well as they can.
Martha's fourteen-year-old son, Joe, arrives home one day to announce he's been paid a shilling to join the army and fight for his country. Martha is horrified. She complains to the sergeant at the local police station for signing up a boy he knows is underage, but instead of him agreeing that Joe should be discharged, he threatens to arrest her and sends her on her way. She tries to confront the local Mayor, but Martha is stopped at every turn from rectifying Joe's foolhardy mistake. It seems to Martha that despite it being illegal to accept boys of Joe's age in the army, there's nothing she can do to get him out.
Joe leaves for France and writes to her. Martha is unable to read and write and when she goes to Joyce's workplace to ask her to read a letter from Joe, Joyce is mortified to see her mother, dressed in her ragged clothes and unkempt hair and tells her to go away. Kate Kellaway, a young girl with hopes of becoming a journalist, overhears the encounter and takes Martha to a cafe where she reads Joe's letter to her. They become friends and when Martha's worst fears are realised, she determines to walk to 10 Downing Street and tell the Prime Minister exactly what she thinks of a country that will let children go to France and fight a war. With Kate's help and that of journalist, Clive, Martha sets out on a journey that will change all their lives in ways none of them could never have imagined.
I've enjoyed many of Maureen Lee's books and loved this one too. From the first page you're drawn into Martha's rundown, hopeless world where there's very little to be thankful for and even less support for those who find themselves in the lower echelons of society.
You can find out more about Maureen Lee and her books on her webside here.