Note, the format of my Short and Sweet reviews differs in that they simply comprise the book blurb and a short response (hence, the short and sweet).
Talk about an incredible achievement – author Anna Jacobs has just released her 70th book! A Time to Remember is the first in a new Lancashire-based series band it’s set just after WWII. I’ve read a few of Jacobs’s historical novels and found them to be light and enjoyable – I also enjoyed working for her on a couple of occasions as a relief “personal assistant”. She really is a lovely person with a great passion for writing. Here’s the blurb:
1945 – the war in Europe is over. Most women can’t wait for their men to return, but in the small town of Rivenshaw in Lancashire, Judith Crossley fears having her husband back in the house. He’d grown into a bully and a drunkard, and on the occasions he’d come home from leave, he’d hit her.
He wasn’t a good father either – when their eldest daughter Kitty won a prestigious scholarship to the private girls’ grammar school, Doug had tried to stop her going, saying it would turn her into a snob. Luckily Judith had help from an unlikely ally – Maynard Esher, from an old aristocratic family on the other side of town – but Judith knows that when her husband returns, she’ll be blamed for letting Kitty take up her school place. She decides that for the children’s sake, she must leave her husband. But with the house rented in his name, and other accommodation scarce, where on earth can they go?
Helen Bretherton is returning from being a Land Girl in Wiltshire. Her great-aunt has left her a house bordering the park in Rivenshaw, but it was partly bombed and is in a poor condition. Still, she decides to camp out in it, if it’s at all habitable, because she has nowhere else to go. However, when she arrives, she finds a displaced Polish man is already living there …
A Time to Remember is another Jacobs’ book that will appeal to mainstream readers. It’s a character-driven tale with a particular emphasis on the female experience. I enjoyed the description of wartime and post-war life in the UK, particularly in the way women’s roles were depicted. Women played a huge part in the war effort, yet when their men returned, they were expected to give up their jobs (and opinions) and return to being good housewives. In the case of the character Judith, she’s widely expected to put up with her husband’s beatings – a far cry from the zero tolerance approach being promoted today. Her daughter is expected to listen to the “head of the household” and give up her place in grammar school. It’s always good to get these reminders of how the female experience has shifted and changed.
However, despite some of the themes (which also include displacement, divorce and education), the book is not hard-hitting and remains relatively light and easy, making for a pleasant and informative reading experience. Fans will enjoy it and I think Jacobs will earn herself even more with this latest offering.
Available from good bookstores and Hachette Australia (RRP $29.99). My copy was courtesy of Hachette.