Hay Bales and Hollyhocks is a British family saga set between the years 1938 and 1968 mainly in and around Kings Lynn, Norfolk. The prologue opens in 1968 with Rosanne and Sim, two travellers, recently met.
The book then turns back to 1938, four year old Rosy lives in the fens with her extended family. She plays with her older cousins in and around the river Ouse, but soon a baby brother arrives to change her life. During the first years of the war, the women and children move into Kings Lynn for safety while the men go to war, but when a bomb falls too closely they find new cottages on a farm.
The war brings it’s own trials and obstacles for Rosy and her family. In later years, Rosy yearns for her freedom, she spends an idyllic summer holiday boating on the river Ouse once again with her cousins, but soon her life is turned upside down again by a sibling.
This is a book packed with detailed nostalgia of the era, showing thorough knowledge and research by the author, but at times it felt a little like walking around a living museum rather than relying on the writing style, language and story content to create the atmosphere of yesteryear.
This review is based on a free copy of the book given to me by Bonnier Zaffre Publishing
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