Tag Archives: #WWII

Review: Ambulance Girls

Ambulance Girls by Deborah Burrows
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Source: Paperback copy courtesy of publisher

Ever since I fell completely in adoration of Deborrah Burrows’ last book, A Time of Secrets a couple of years ago, I’ve been waiting for another book. And while I was waiting, I kinda stalk her on Goodreads and twitter so I knew she’s been traipsing (sorry, researching) all over London when living there. I greeted the cover reveal of Ambulance Girls with a squeal of excitement and I think my heart might have stopped for mo when I received a copy in the mail.

Firstly, I do love this cover and I really like war historical fiction especially when this particular book’s main character was inspired by a real life historical Aussie woman serving in the London Auxiliary Ambulance Station during the Blitz. There were a lot of things I learnt from this novel about women during the Blitz. I guess there have been quite a number of books or even documentaries but the way it was written here made it all the more real to me. It was obvious that a lot of research was done in the writing of this novel and not just about the women or the Blitz as novel itself feels like veritable literary tour of London.

The novel opens with Lily on duty and having to face one of her fears of enclosed spaces. It was a great start to the novel and you’d easily fall in love with Lily. Her other fears though were not as easily conquered… Aside from her courage, empathy, and her wish to do well unto others, she’s also got a great sense of humour. Maybe that’s her Aussie flavoured humour that coloured her interactions with her friends and gave the book a reminiscent air. We follow Lily through her struggles with daily life during the Blitz; the grief of losing a friend and the joy of falling in love. There were some shaky moments where I thought things were just not going to be right with this book but thankfully, all was made quite well! I had to give the book a bit of a hug from relief and an affectionate pat when I finished reading for I was well & truly shaken.

There were a number of characters both likeable and despicable in this book and the variety and dynamics between these characters were really quite interesting. The book is told from Lily’s perspective only so in a way, we miss out on a lot about the other characters as only a few were well developed. However, as this is the first book of a trilogy, I do believe we will get to know some of the others quite well later on (and I look forward to this!). What you cannot mistake in this novel is the author’s views on anti-semitism (ignorant) and Hitler (evil); she’s loud and clear on that front. Hear! Hear! These things can never be stated enough and whilst Hitler is gone, there are still those like him & share his views.

If you loved the show, Call the Midwife, or the books that inspired it, you would love Ambulance Girls. Lily Brennan may not be English but she’s as brave as those midwives in facing uncertainties & adversities of the time. And I dare say that her Australian personality shone through especially against the foil of English reserved façade.

Thanks to Penguin Books Australia for copy of book in exchange of honest review

View all my reviews

Review: The Beast’s Garden

the beasts gardenThe Beast’s Garden by Kate Forsyth
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Source: eARC courtesy of publisher via NetGalley

I loved Beauty by Robin McKinley and I adore Kate Forsyth so I thought that The Beast’s Garden would be a wonderful magical retelling. Despite the horribleness of the setting (I meant the nasty gruesome war rather than the actual place), I thought that this would be an excellent foil for Beauty’s courage and generosity. In the end, whilst I have very much enjoyed the story, I’d say that The Beast’s Garden is inspired by (rather than a retelling of) ‘The Singing, Springing Lark’, the Grimm Brothers’ version of Beauty and The Beast.

‘The Singing, Springing Lark’ is quite a bit different than the well-known tale of Beauty and The Beast and if you know your literature, you’d know that Grimm Brothers’ version will be much darker. This means that our heroine must be very determined, intelligent, brave, and persistent in order to win a life with her love. Ava was young but bounteous in courage. Her courage carried her to Leo, sustained her through turbulent times, and brought her to her destined future.

It’s very clear that Kate Forsyth has done her research and I loved knowing that most characters are real historically (the exception being Ava & Leo and their family). The novel was just intricately woven together into a seamlessly stunning love story amidst destruction. It’s just like how that red rose on the cover stands out! My only grievance was the lack of magic. I’ve always associated Kate Forsyth with magic and I kept expecting something magical to pop up but aside from some hint of the gypsy, I drew a complete blank.

The Beast’s Garden has a lot to offer the readers. The friendships cultivated by Ava were true and lasting. Both Ava and Leo were bound by a force neither could fight off and by embracing love, they found a little safe haven in a dark world. As with all war fiction, you’d always wonder how you yourself will act and we are shown just how courageous some can be in fighting for humanity whilst others sought only to destroy. A smashing read and highly recommended to historical fiction fans.

Thanks to Random House Australia via NetGalley for eARC in exchange of honest review

View all my reviews