Why a booktrail?
An epic tale of love and loss in wartime, where an American soldier 70 years later is wondering what happened to his lost love, a love he discovered in blitzed London all those years ago..
Story in a nutshell
Stella Thorne has an unhappy marriage. On the outside she’s a respectable pastor’s wife but inside she’s dying. He is cold and mistreats her but society of the time keeps her from speaking out.
When helping out with the war effort, she meets a charismatic American solider named Dan Rosinki and against their better judgement form a romantic attachment. Things soon blossom and events spiral out of control until she is left with a dilemma which will change all of their lives.
70 years later, Dan’s letters to Stella are found by a girl who has her own reasons for wanting to help him find out what happened to Stella all those years ago.
Place and setting – A unique view of wartime London…
War time London
Claustrophobic and isolating – is that the marriage that Stella suffers with husband Charles, society’s constraints on women or the stuffy London streets filled with smog and fear?
BlitzedLondon was a hard place to be for a woman. And so when Stella finds herself in an unhappy marriage, this has never been more true. They live in quiet isolation until she helps with the war effort, and with her good friend Nancy has some fun dancing. Then she meets the charismatic Dan and their lives change for ever.
He returns her watch she has lost in the rubble of a church, they meet on the steps near Bush house and go to the Grand Gallery in Trafalgar Square. Secret meetings in plain sight but in war time London any enjoyment has to be snatched up before it is lost forever.
This is wartime London evoked in glistening detail – from the spam sandwiches to the tins of peaches, to the gaslights on the street to the clanking of the trams. The closeted world of Stella’s churchy existence is contrasted with the church fetes and crimson lipstick.
When a young American soldier walks into her world, it’s not surprising that she falls for him. An epic love story begins taking her to Cambridge and the wonders which can be found amongst the rubble of London.
London Present Day
70 years later. Another woman in an abusive and dangerous situation. A woman running from her danger only to stumble on Stella’s story and Dan’s letters in which he wonders what happened to her. Finding out that Dan is sick and living now back in America, she can’t get the words out of her head in which he promised to love her forever.
Reading more letters, a story emerges which son draws Jess deeper into it than she would ever have thought.
Things you will need to fully enjoy this book – peace and quiet (but music on a scratchy gramophone is recommended), a nice cup of tea, a spam sandwich on a china plate and a large, large box of tissues.
This is a really interesting read with two stories told in dual time and which somehow mirror each other and then merge in unexpected ways. All the time poor Dan is now close to the end of his life but he has always wondered what happened to Stella. The wanting to know if he finds out takes you right through the book as we go back and forth watching their romance develop and grow.
The characters were as vivid as the setting – I just loved Nancy and really want to go dancing with her in an old church hall. She’d be lots of fun. Bet she wears polka dots. Charles was interesting but for very different reasons and his story also fascinated me but I hated how he treated Stella!
The central romance between Dan and Stella is nicely done and carefully plotted to seem realistic and take us along for the lovely ride. Even though she was married, I really wanted them to get together (and if you read the book you will see why)
The grim reality of war time London, of the constraints she had on her life and how she dealt with what came her way showed a woman under great duress during war time. Representative of so many no doubt.
When I found out what happened to Stella I shed a tear. So realistic and probably the fate of many women then.
And the end? You might need another whole box of tissues…