Recently I seem to have been drawn to stories that have a military historical setting, be that novels I’m reading or fiction I’m writing. With a father who served for twenty-two years in the Royal Air Force, and a childhood spent moving homes every three years while we followed his career, I probably shouldn’t be surprised.
They call us brats, for some reason; the children of military children. But thankfully, they don’t mean as in ‘spoilt’ but the word brat in this case connotes affection and respect. The lifestyle can lead, for many, to a nomadic existence but in my case, I married a farmer whose roots are firmly planted in East Anglian soil! I admit that while I adored the excitement of seeing new places, the lack of continuity in friendships meant I yearned for that for my own children. And their childhood home has, and always will be, this beautiful farm I now call home.
I give this novel a full 5-stars, not that it needs another fabulous review, having become an iconic book/play/film since it was first released as a paperback in 1981.
My reading tastes vary depending on the mood I’m in,
but I always warm to stories in which children feature. Willie is the child Tom Oakley takes on, as part of the war effort and the refugee crisis, which feels incredibly poignant right now.
Michelle Magorian published this delightful tale of Tom Oakley
an older man, a loner, living in the countryside – who opens his heart and takes Willie in, gets to truly know him and finds himself caring enough to spot that things may not have been all that perfect back in London, from where the boy has been evacuated. Together, they learn what gifts a lonely life can deliver, and it’s a beautifully written novel. Little wonder then, it is a book frequently found on school reading lists. John Thaw played the perfect Tom Oakley in the 1998 film adaptation.
This novel made me laugh, then it made me cry.
The cruelty inflicted by a character who believed they were right made my toes curl, but it’s a valuable lesson for all those children who read this story. That it does go on. That it needs stopping, and good people make bad things stop. The author took a deep rooted fear, made it the theme set in a war-torn reality. A stunning example of a novel which reaches across the land of entertainment into dark territory from which we can all be enlightened.
When a make-believe story can be interwoven through the skeletal truth of the past, the result is made more relatable, more meaningful.
It’s fiction like this which I would love to produce. Fiction which makes you feel something, be it anger, warmth, fear, love. I was delighted this winter to pique the interest of a publisher by the name of Fairlight Books, who believe short stories should not be kept behind a paywall. Hence, you can read my short story, called THE PROJECTIONIST by subscribing to their website and looking in the short story section, where every Thursday a tale is published to help new writers gain exposure and find new readers.
My father has made Airfix models of aeroplanes all his life
and I have a Lancaster Bomber which he made me, knowing it has always been a favourite since I walked beneath the example at Hendon as a child. It takes pride of place in my writing room, especially as I start to plot another novel; this one with one foot in the Suez Crisis of 1956.