Rosie’s #Bookreview #WW2 Family Saga A Ration Book Christmas by @JeanFullerton_ #TuesdayBookBlog

A Ration Book ChristmasA Ration Book Christmas by Jean Fullerton

4 stars

Ration Book Christmas is a family saga set in London during World War Two. It can be read as a stand-alone, but it also follows on from Pocketful Of Dreams.

It opens with teenager Jo Brogan and her young brother Billy, evacuees sent to live near Colchester. But both are unhappy; Jo’s stopped receiving letters from her sweet-heart Tommy and she worries that he’s found someone else. Neither her or Billy are made to feel welcome, so they decide to run away back to London and their family.

1940 sees the heavy nightly bombing from the German Luftwaffe. Several of Jo’s family and friends are doing essential war work, and Jo joins them as a first-aider. She’s also desperate to see Tommy, but when she does find him, he’s with a scantily dressed woman, and Jo flees in tears.

Tommy and his brother Reggie have a criminal reputation, but while Reggie takes advantage of the bombed-out homes and the blackout, Tommy is determined to go straight. He wants an honest future with Jo, but first he has to prove to her that he’s worth it.

I thought the war-time drama and atmosphere were well-written, and the devastation and danger caused by the relentless nightly bombing felt real. There were some great characters, too; Jo’s Grandmother, Queenie, is a particular delight with her wily ways and sense of humour, while I admired Jo’s mother, Ida, and her ability to feed many mouths while rationing was in full flow. The people of London showed stoic resolution to carry on and not be defeated, and it shone through in this book.

Recommended for those who enjoy historical fiction, with plenty of nostalgia filling the pages.

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Book description

It’s 1940 and the German Luftwaffe have started their nightly reign of death and destruction over London’s East End. The Brogan family is braced and ready to take on Hitler single-handed, if need be, but with rationing, air-raids and the threat of Nazi invasion hanging over this doughty family, their spirits are taking a bit of a battering…

For Jo, the youngest of the Brogan sisters and newly qualified as an ambulance driver, the freedom of her job also offers the chance to see the love of her life, Tommy Sweete, more often. But Tommy’s dangerous reputation means he’s disapproved of by her family, and any chance of happiness seems very far away. As the Blitz devastates their homes and neighbourhood, can their love survive the horrors of war-time London?

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My #BookReview #WW2 Family saga Pocketful Of Dreams by @JeanFullerton_ #TuesdayBookBlog

Pocketful of Dreams (The Brogans of Mafeking Terrace #1)Pocketful of Dreams by Jean Fullerton
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Pocketful Of Dreams is a World War II family drama set in London and features the loves and losses of the Brogan family; a hard-working Irish family, they live in London’s East End.

Father Daniel McCree has arrived in London to assist Father Mahon in serving the parish of St. Bridget and St. Brendan. The young priest has a spring in his step and a twinkle in his eye, which got me thinking about the Thorn Birds. But is he all that he seems?

Christopher Joliffe is a pro-Nazi fascist; networking on the streets of London, he is making connections to help Hitler’s proposed invasion of Britain. He meets Mattie Brogan whilst signing up as an Auxiliary Police Constable. She has just taken on a role of an Air-Raid Warden, whilst studying for her Higher Certificate of education. Christopher is attracted by her brains and beauty and asks her out.

In the months of the ‘phoney war’, Mattie is flattered by Christopher’s attentions, but it is Father McCree who haunts her dreams. One night on patrol, Mattie becomes suspicious that her brother-in-law, Stan, is lying about his involvement in the Briton’s For Peace Union, and turns to Father McCree for advice; soon, her life takes on a new direction.

I liked the way the author took this book down a darker side compared with many home front war stories. The hostility in London towards Jews and Italians was shocking and believable. I was also interested in the thoughts behind those who supported Hitler, however unpalatable the story. Alas, I felt that the ending was wrapped up a little too neatly.

Father McCree was one of my favourite characters; I did wonder where the author was taking his story at the beginning, but it soon became apparent and I became a firm supporter of his role. I loved the outrageous Queenie; did she have the ‘sight’, or was she just very observant? I enjoyed the illegal gambling bets she took and the glimpses of her past life.

Recommended for readers who enjoy family sagas set in the war years of London; soaked in nostalgia of the times, it mixes romance with a sprinkle of the darker aspects of the early war years.

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Book description

It’s 1939, and the Brogan family of London’s East End are ready to show Hitler what for. But things don’t seem so rosy when rationing, evacuation and air-raids start to put this larger-than-life family to the test.

When a mysterious young man arrives at the Brogans’ local parish church, he provides just the dazzling distraction they need – and for eldest daughter Mattie, the promise of more than she’d ever wished for. But as the pair fall deeper in love, they are drawn into secret dangers, rife on the very London streets they call home.

As the young couple race to protect the East End as they know it, can their dreams survive the darkening backdrop of war-time…?

About the author

I was born into a large, East End family and grew up in the overcrowded streets clustered around the Tower of London. I still live in East London, just five miles from where I was born. I feel that it is that my background that gives my historical East London stories their distinctive authenticity.

I first fell in love with history at school when I read Anya Seton’s book Katherine. Since then I have read everything I can about English history but I am particularly fascinated by the 18th and 19th century and my books are set in this period. I just love my native city and the East End in particular which is why I write stories to bring that vibrant area of London alive.

I am also passionate about historical accuracy and I enjoy researching the details almost as much as weaving the story. If one of my characters walks down a street you can be assured that that street actually existed. Take a look at Jean’s East End and see the actual location where my characters played out their stories.

Jean Fullerton

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