This story of a young girl fighting to save her family farm in the depths of The Great War is just riveting. She faces the death of her father at the front, the danger of unpaid bills, the army requisitioning their livestock – how can you plough a field without a horse? – and then a journey across France in the dead of snowy winter to sell her geese at market. Along the way she’s threatened, abused, tricked, cheated and confronted by unbending bureaucracy.
Yet she keeps fighting. She refuses to give up. And you keep racing through the pages to find out she’ll survive the latest setback. She’s a sympathetic and resourceful character. And it’s great to read a book with a young heroine who doesn’t resort to violence to solve her problems, but who uses her wits. That’s refreshing.
What’s also impressive is the way Rowena House evokes the cold, squalor and sheer misery of the war without once going near the trenches. Descriptions of disfigured veterans, deserted farms, starving factory workers and filthy trains pack an enormous punch, and make you realise that when a war does break out, it’s not always just the people on the front line who suffer.
This is a great book.