I’m back with what feels like a long overdue book review, all about The Air Raid Girls by Jenny Holmes. I have actually featured one of Jenny’s books before, A Christmas Wish For The Land Girls by Jenny Holmes. It was a book that I thoroughly enjoyed reading.
When I saw that she had wrote The Air Raid Girls, it went on my TBR list straight away. They great news is it’s actually a two part series. Therefore I thought I would share and review both books in this post. The main reason for this is that I finished one and started the next on the same day and forgot to write any notes first. It means that it is a bit of a blur as to what happened in which book.
The Air Raid Girls
Meet the Air Raid Girls: three young women keen to do their bit during the Yorkshire blitz.
Connie’s life has taken an unexpected turn since her husband died – she’s living at home and working in the family bakery – but night shifts as an ARP Warden give her a firm sense of purpose.
Her younger sister Lizzie is eager to play her part too, perhaps as an ambulance driver. Her fiancé refuses to support her decision… but does he really know what’s best for her?
Twenty-year-old Pamela has led a sheltered life, but when her family’s home is destroyed in a raid she must learn to stand on her own two feet – helped by new friends.
As bombs fall and fires rage, the young women face the destruction of everything they’ve ever know. Can their fighting spirit prevail? And what of their families and the men the love?
The Air Raid Girls At Christmas
Christmas is coming… and despite the blackout, shortages and a constant threat of air raids, the inhabitants of Kelthorpe on the Yorkshire coast are determined that war won’t stop them celebrating.
The run-up to Christmas sees sisters Connie and Lizzie, and their good friend Pamela, busier than ever. Between their jobs, carol-singing rehearsals with the church choir and night shifts doing their bit as air raid wardens and ambulance drivers, it’s all go.
But when Connie and Lizzie’s dear dad falls ill, their sweethearts Tom and Bill are called up by the Royal Navy for dangerous minesweeping duties, and Pamela’s darling Fred is targeted by vicious locals, the girls have to believe in miracles to keep soldiering on.
Can their dearest wishes come true this Christmas?
As I mentioned above, I’d already read a book by Jenny Holmes and so knew that I liked her style of writing. On the surface, it sounded like it was going to be similar to a lot of other wartime books I’d read. However I found myself surprised to find that within both books, Jenny chose to includes parts of the second world war that aren’t written about as much.
One of these was crime. Like peacetime, crime happens in wartime and during the second world war it happened a lot. It was great to see this being played out throughout both books in a way that kept the reader guessing. There was even a bit of a thriller part way through when one of the characters gets tangled up with a dangerous man. It really had me wondering if Jenny was actually going to kill off one of her main characters.
Another theme that I’m pleased was included in the book was the role both men and women played on the home front. The second world war was fought as much at home as it was abroad. I feel like its important to remember that. In my opinion, The Air Raid Girls does great justice to remembering all of those who took part.
Friendship & Love
I loved the friendship that blossomed between the characters throughout both books. Even more so between Connie and Lizzie because they were very much friends as well as sisters. I also felt that the contrast between the darkness of war and the unexpected love blooming, really balanced both out well. It wasn’t too lovey dovey that you’d call it a romance novel, but it wasn’t too war glorified either.
As is Jenny Holmes’ style, some things are kept from the reader until near the end of the first book. This really brought the tension and drama and compelled me to start reading the second book straight away. As the secrets are revealed one by one, you are left shocked that outcomes are not quite what you had thought. Its a very clever writing skill of diverting your attention from what is really going on with the characters.
I love a good Christmas book, but I’m not all about the cheese. However, despite an undercurrent throughout the second book about Christmas, a lot more happened around it to contrast that happy, festive time we normally find in books. It was just the right amount of festive cheer that I felt I could still enjoy in April.
Overall, if you can’t already tell, I thoroughly enjoyed reading both books in The Air Raid Girls series. These are a great way of learning about the past whilst enjoying a good book. It certainly helps things to sink in better. I almost wish I’d read books like these at school because I’d have probably got a better grade in history!