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Review by Suze
Florrie has inherited a newsagent shop in London and she's happy there with her twins, Shirley and Tom. Unfortunately the Second World War breaks out and even though Florrie wants to keep her children with her, she has to send them to the countryside. She's ill and sees no other solution. Shirley and Tom are being taken to Worthing, a seaside town. There they have problems finding someone who will take them in. Shirley is incredibly smart, but Tom experiences most thing in a different way and doesn't always understand the people around him. Shirley protects him and helps her brother to get settled in their new surroundings.
Gilbert, a local farmer, is the only one who's offering the twins a place to stay. He's done this solely for the money. Shirley and Tom have to work hard, they don't have a decent place to sleep and Gilbert is trying to keep everyone they know away from them. The only one who supports them is his wife Janet. Janet is heavily pregnant. She's afraid of her husband and Gilbert doesn't seem to have much respect for her and the baby. While Florrie is working hard to recover from her awful illness her children are trying to survive, is there still a chance they'll be reunited in the end?
Always in My Heart is an impressive story. Because of the war, life changes drastically and Shirley and Tom have to be evacuated. They're teenagers and Shirley is wise for her age, so she can look after both herself and Tom. I loved how clever and resilient she is. Tom is a sweetheart, but people don't treat him well and Shirley is always there to protect him. She tells him stories and she constantly helps him to understand the way things work. I loved their connection. Shirley has to grow up very fast and my heart ached for her because of the bad luck that seems to follow the twins. Because of Shirley's kindness she easily makes friends and she's a lovely ray of sunshine for everyone around her. I liked that contrast very much and it made me fascinated with Always in My Heart even more.
Pam Weaver is a great narrator. I was intrigued by her story from beginning to end. Her detailed descriptions of her settings are making the story come to life in a wonderful lively way. She writes about a difficult time that brings a lot of stress and grief, but also community spirit, solidarity and hope. She combines this with a gripping story about a dangerous man and that part kept me on the edge of my seat. I loved the combination of heartwarming connections and a complicated mystery. I read Always in My Heart in one sitting and couldn't put it down, it's a fantastic book. I really enjoyed reading this beautiful compelling story.
If you love historical fiction about strong women and family bonds I highly recommend Always in My Heart.
About Pam Weaver
The villagers huddled together round the graveside, struggling to keep their umbrellas from blowing inside out. The wind was so gusty it was hard to stay upright on the slippery grass between the gravestones. The vicar of St Margaret’s, Angmering, Rev. Thomas Palmer, did his best to ignore the rain as he recited the prayer of the committal, but it wasn’t easy with freezing water dripping down his neck and what little bit of hair he had in total disarray. Today was a day when he was glad that his retirement was imminent. Standing out in all weathers like this was for a much younger man. He had given fifteen years of his life to the people of this parish and it was time to hang up his cassock. Life was strange. Who would have thought that he would bury Elizabeth Oliver before her husband? Elizabeth, pretty, vivacious and still a young woman, had been a dutiful wife to Gilbert, even though he was so surly. Although not a church-goer,
Elizabeth always had a cheery wave and a smile.
There weren’t that many mourners – just a handfulof people, which was surprising because Elizabeth Oliver was only in her late twenties. She had been married for almost three years, and apart from meeting up with Marilyn now and again, she led a quiet life. She had died after falling into Patching Pond. It was a mystery why she was there so late in the afternoon, but Gilbert Oliver, her devoted husband, had tried desperately to save her. The police had ruled out foul play because she liked to collect holly in that area to make Christmas wreaths. She sold them door to door in the village and made them a nice little sum of money, something that a struggling farmer like Gilbert always welcomed. He was aware of the gossip. People said she had married him for his money and the farm, but he wept as he told anyone who cared to listen what a good wife she had been to him.
The pallbearers were preparing to lower the coffin as Rev. Palmer began the familiar words of committal.
‘We have but a short time to live. Like a flower we blossom and then wither; like a shadow we flee and never stay. In the midst of life we are in death—’
He was halted by a strangulated cry from among the mourners and Elizabeth’s husband pushed his way forward. Men lost their footing and women cried out in shocked surprise as he rushed past them, but before anyone could stop him, Gilbert Oliver staggered over the muddy mound of earth and threw himself across her coffin, sobbing loudly.
‘For God’s sake, put the soil over me as well. I can’t live without her. Oh, Elizabeth, my Elizabeth ...’
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