Loved this book! D.E. Stevenson has done it again for me!
Sarah Morris is the daughter of an English vicar. She has two brothers, Willy and Lewis, and another sister Charlotte, the youngest in the family, and *quite* spoiled! Written in pre-World War II, the novel progresses and takes the reader on a quick trip through the war from Sarah’s perspective.
We see Lewis wanting to be a soldier and Willy, much to his shame,exempted from service. Charlotte becomes more and more flighty and self-absorbed, influenced by her shallow friends, the Meldrum family.
How do two sisters in the same family turn out so differently? Lottie and Sarah are as different as could be… but the reader almost has to laugh at Lottie’s immature actions.
There is a vacation trip to Sarah’s grandparents in Scotland, with more interesting and quirky characters to meet, and Sarah’s horizons are widened when she meets her brother Lewis’ schoolfriend, Charles.
“When I went back to Austria, I felt frustrated. I felt like a fish out of water; I couldn’t breathe freely. Then came the Anschluss when Austria was betrayed by her government and surrendered without a blow! That decided the matter; I couldn’t live in a country dominated by a man like Hitler.”
“What do you mean, Charles?” I asked in surprise.
“My mother was a MacDonald, as you know, so already I am half British by birth. I want to become a British subject. I have been in touch with the authorities and have applied to be naturalised…”
Sarah eventually finds herself caught up in a relationship that cuts across two countries at war.
How Sarah copes with night bombings of London, is offered and maintains a job, and cares for her father and brothers during the war, (and the selfish vagaries of an annoying sister), is a very interesting read!
“One day when we were in the garden, Grandpapa said something which made such a deep impression upon me that it affected my whole life… and even now, many years after, I can still see him sitting on the garden seat with the September sunshine falling through the leaves of the apple tree and making a sort of halo of his thick white hair. It was a Sunday afternoon. The grans had been to church in the morning, but they had left me at home because I was still in quarantine. The sermon had been about ‘the lilies of the field’ and Grandpapa had disapproved of it.
“Lilies don’t have to toil and spin, they’re just beautiful,” I had pointed out.
“I know,” agreed Grandpapa, frowning thoughtfully. “But it isn’t enough to be beautiful. I’m a soldier, not a parson, but I read my Bible carefully, and, to me, it’s quite obvious that Jesus liked people who were enthusiastic: people who did things, looked ahead, and weren’t easily turned from their purpose. Zaccheus climbed a tree because he wanted to see Jesus; some men brought their sick friend to be healed and let him down through a hole in the roof; the blind man shouted at Jesus – and wouldn’t stop shouting… All these people, and many others, got what they wanted. They were rewarded for their enthusiasm, foresight, initiative and perseverance. They were go-getters, Sarah.”
“Yes,” said Grandpapa, nodding. “Remember this, Sarah: you’ll never get anything worth having unless you go all out to get it.”