My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Pattern of Shadows is a WW2 historical fiction. Mary Howarth is a nurse in a hospital attached to the Granville German prisoner of war camp, which is near Manchester, Uk.
The story begins in 1944. Mary’s brother Tom is a conscientious objector and in prison for his refusal to take part in the war. Her second brother Patrick, is a Bevin Boy, young men conscripted to work in the coal mines during the war to support the country. He’s angry at having his choice to fight in Europe taken from him and we meet him when he’s part of a striking work force.
Mary’s Dad is also a man with a temper, he’s embarrassed by his son Tom and angry with Patrick for striking. He remembers the first World War and his role which left him suffering from the effects of gas. He’s playing his part with the local home guard, but often takes his anger out on Mary’s Mum in violent ways.
Mary feels she holds the family together. Her younger sister, Ellen works in a munitions factory, but hates it, wanting to be young and carefree, she’s reckless with the local American GIs.
Mary meets Frank, a friend of Patrick’s and they start going out, but Mary isn’t sure about him. He’s a guard at the prison camp having been invalided out of the army with a knee injury.
At the hospital, German doctors help look after the patients and when two new doctors arrive, Mary feels a spark between herself and doctor Peter Schormann. But any romance would be extremely dangerous for them both, however they can’t hide their feelings.
Confiding in best friend Jean, Mary’s troubles begin to escalate. Heavy handed jealous Frank has a brawl and Mary doesn’t like this violent side to him, but he won’t take her rejection lightly. He begins to stalk her and notices her friendship with the German Doctor which he threatens to put an end to.
This book shows the hardships that families in England went through during the war, their suffering, lack of food and how they coped on a day to day basis. It was an interesting mix to have the “enemy” living along side them and the reactions that the locals had, their fears and loyalties tested to extremes. I really enjoyed the story and the ending had an unexpected revelation which was a delight.
This review is based on a free copy of the book given to me by Honno Press
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