When it comes to fictional literature, historical fiction is always a favorite of mine, even though it is definitely one genre that I haven’t indulged in very much. So when I got a chance to review this beautiful piece of historical fiction, I was over the moon. Get ready for gushing because it has been a while since I binge-read a book as fast as this one! I must’ve finished it within three hours and was absolutely hooked throughout!
War changes everything…
Emily has always lived a life of privilege. That is until the drums of World War One came beating. Her
family may be dramatically affected but it also offers her the freedom that she craves. Away from the
tight control of her mother she grabs every opportunity that the war is giving to women like her, including
Working as a land girl Emily finds a new lease of life but when the war is over, and life returns to normal,
she has to learn what to give up and what she must fight for.
Will life ever be the same again?
First of all, I just want to say that one of the main reasons why I found myself absolutely hooked to this book was because of the main character. Emily really is just an ordinary girl and that makes her very relatable. She doesn’t break any rules or do anything outlandish. In fact, all Emily wants to do is help her own family out! The only reason she isn’t allowed to do what she knows she is capable of doing is due to the fact that she is, you guessed it, a woman. And what does a woman know about farming and animals anyway?
Despite all these setbacks, Emily doesn’t rebel. She tries to persuade those around her to accept her for what she can do but she doesn’t make a big ruckus of it because she knows she has responsibilities on her shoulders that she has to navigate the waters with. I feel like this is a very good message for girls everywhere. It’s one thing to feel underestimated and to constantly have your abilities looked over, but it’s such an admirable strength to hold yourself back for those that depend on you. At one point, I was terrified that Emily was going to break out of her traditional role to go do what she wanted, come what may. Instead of the headstrong main character who gets swept up on to an adventure that an ordinary girl can’t even dream of, we get Emily, a common girl who we can relate to, trying to make a difference and prove herself in a situation that cripples her.
It’s not just Emily who is amazingly complex and relatable, but there are a few other characters as well. Some of them, I feel, were one dimensional at the beginning but later revealed themselves to be absolutely fantastic, whether it was Emily’s brother, Cecil, or one of the girls at the farm, Martha. I was especially intrigued by Cecil, despite him being a self-absorbed and headstrong jerk with little to no sense of self-preservation. I thought Theo was really sketchy at the start, because of the newspaper ad, but I was brilliantly lulled into security and found myself wanting things to go Emily’s way so badly!
Another thing I absolutely loved about the book was how the war was portrayed. We didn’t get to see anything happen, the war was only talked about through other people. Emily wasn’t thrown into the war, but we watched the war permeate into her life and bring it’s horrors in, from reeling away the people she loved in lots of different ways to showing the prisoners of war to the mentioned casualties of their own side. Another major concept that I enjoyed was showing how the male-dominated society was slowly being crippled by the lack of men left. Women were being forced into stronger, more controlling roles in their lives and affairs and I liked how the end of the war was also shown, with the men coming back and trying to wrest things back from the women who had obviously become comfortable in the new roles and freedom that they were capable of running.
To sum up, this book was a lot of fun to read. There were plenty of twists and thrills. Some parts were a little confusing when it came to dialogue and to side characters, but it can be overall forgiven. The themes in this books are wonderful and are explored at a very comfortable pace. I would definitely give it a 4/5 stars and recommend it to everyone!
Allie lives in Kent with her family and two tortoises. When she’s not writing for business or penning her women’s historical fiction, Allie enjoys swimming and yoga. She has an MA in Professional Writing from Falmouth University and The Lido Girls is her debut novel. She is currently working on a second interwar
years novel, which is due for publication in the summer of 2018.