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June 23, 2021

The English Girl by Sarah Mitchell ~ a Review

by Susan Roberts

I read a lot of historical fiction based on World War II so it always surprises me when an author gives us a different perspective.  This novel is based after the war in England and looks at how life in a small town has been affected.  The English Girl by Sara Mitchell is a well-written dual timeline novel that is based on true facts.

Amazon affiliate links are used on this site. A free book was provided for an honest review.

The English Girl
June 2021; Bookouture; 978-1800196926
audio, ebook, print (316 pages); historical fiction
1946 - Norfolk England.  In this quiet part of England, the government decided to create a camp for German prisoners of war to help remove the barbed wire and mines from the beach.  The people of the village were angered by this - many of them lost their loved ones during the war and didn't want Germans in their town as a reminder.  Fran lived with her sister June and her parents and had lost a brother during the war.  Her sister hates the Germans and wants nothing to do with them, while Fran is more forgiving and goes to work at the camp as a secretary.  When Fran first sees Thomas, one of the prisoners,  she is aware of his blue eyes that seemed to see into her soul.  She and Thomas fall in love but know that they have to keep it hidden because there was a law about fraternizing with the enemy.  Thomas makes plans to stay in England after the war but they aren't sure how to accomplish this goal.  He gets repatriated back to Germany and has to decide if he will look for his family at home or stay in England with his love.  There is also a dual storyline in this time period of the camp commander who is suffering from what we would now call PTSD and how his wife deals with it.

1989 - Berlin.  Tiffany arrives in Berlin as the wall is coming done opening up the ability to travel to East Germany.  She is Fran's granddaughter and is on a mission to find someone from the past.  The 1989 part of the novel brackets the 1946 section and provides closure to the story of Fran and Thomas.

The English Girl is an interesting look at the trauma that many soldiers face when they go home after the war.  There is also a look at the way a person is treated by the people in town for not being able to fight due to health issues.  This sweeping story looks at the power of hope and love after a war.   Several parts of the book had me checking Google to see if they really happened.  One of the most interesting was that the people of the area were encouraged by their church to invite a German prisoner to Christmas dinner and that many of the English families did open their homes.  It showed the goal of many people to create peace after the long war.

Overall, this was a well-written look at love and hope, family, and the effects of war on both the soldiers and their families.  I am going to read some of the earlier books by this author.

Buy The English Girl at Amazon

Susan Roberts lives in North Carolina with her husband of over 50 years.  She grew up in Michigan but now calls North Carolina home. Since her travel plans had to be canceled for this year, she is starting to make plans for travel in 2021. She reads almost anything (and the piles of books in her house prove that) but her favorite genres are Southern fiction, women's fiction, and historical fiction. Susan is a top 1% Goodreads Reviewer. You can connect with Susan on FacebookGoodreads, or Twitter

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