A heart-wrenching, unforgettable story of two evacuee sisters during the Second World War… Perfect for fans of Orphan Train, Nadine Dorries and Diney Costeloe.
London, 1942: Thirteen-year-old Nell and five-year-old Olive are being sent away from the devastation of the East End. They are leaving the terror of the Blitz and nights spent shivering in air raid shelters behind them, but will the strangers they are billeted with be kind and loving, or are there different hardships ahead?
As the sisters struggle to adjust to life as evacuees, they soon discover that living in the countryside isn’t always idyllic. Nell misses her mother and brothers more than anything but she has to stay strong for Olive. Then, when little Olive’s safety is threatened by a boy on a farm, Nell has to make a decision that will change their lives forever…
They must run from danger and try to find their way home.
Together the two girls hold each other’s hands as they begin their perilous journey across bombed-out Britain. But when Nell falls ill, can she still protect her little sister from the war raging around them? And will they ever be reunited from the family they’ve been torn from?
An unputdownable novel of unconditional love, friendship and the fight for survival during a time of unimaginable change. The Runaway Children is guaranteed to find a place in your heart.
This is the fourth book I’ve read by Sandy Taylor. Having absolutely loved The Brighton Girls Trilogy, I felt rather sad when it came to an end. How on earth was I going to cope without another book in the trilogy to look forward to? So, when I found out about The Runaway Children, I was dying to read it! What can I say? Oh my goodness, she’s done it again, as I’ve fallen in love with this book and a whole new set of adorable characters within its pages.
This is a book of mixed emotions. Set during the Second World War, we are faced with the horror of war. The injury or loss of loved ones serving in the military, homes being bombed, families torn apart and evacuees running for their lives. Then there is the magic that Sandy Taylor always creates with her wonderful characters, who are impossible not to love. Even during the darkest of times, the kindness of humans shines through.
The Runaway Children is a remarkable story of two sisters, forced to leave the rest of their family to try and find a safe home in a little village in Wales, with mucky sheep, much to the horror of Olive, but luckily no bombs. They are faced with challenges two young girls should not have to face alone, and they meet an interesting cast of characters along the way, some nicer than others. I thoroughly enjoyed accompanying Nell and Olive on their travels, although some locations felt a little more homely than others. It was wonderful seeing Nell and Olive grow up, not just in size and age, but as young women-to-be faced with important decisions, that made them become stronger in themselves and even closer as sisters.
Olive has to be my favourite book character this year. She was such a wonderful little girl, who had me frequently giggling away to myself. She was the perfect mix of sweet, endearing, inquisitive, opinionated and funny. She was like a cross between my ever-so-chatty grandma, who was also called Olive (I do miss her), and my six year old niece, Daisy, who absorbs everything you say and is full of never-ending questions. I loved how she had such a human-like relationship with her doll, who she called Auntie Missus. It reminded me of the cuddly toy my auntie gave me for my first birthday. I called him Mr Mousy. I still have him and often have a little chatter away to him, even though I’m almost forty years old. I wanted Olive to jump out of the pages and become a real part of my life. Mind you, based on how much of an emotional impact all of Sandy Taylor’s books have had on me, I dare say there will always be a little part of Olive inside me wherever life takes me.
I love that each location within this book is so visually strong in my mind. I’m not consciously aware of this book being particularly visually descriptive, but this story came to life. Perhaps it is Sandy Taylor’s writing style. Nothing ever seems forced. Her writing is so easy to read and flows so naturally. Mind you, on the topic of descriptive writing, I do have to share one of my favourite scenes that Nell describes:
I loved watching the women coming out of the custard factory covered in yellow dust. I loved watching them take off their headscarves and shake out their hair, a tiny haze of yellow around each of their faces, and their smell of vanilla and sugar.
Damn that gluten/yeast intolerance of mine though, because this book had me craving bread and drippin’ so much, it was making my mouth water!
If you haven’t read any books by this author, you really are missing out. I can’t recommend them enough. Please give this author a go if you enjoy stories with wonderful characters you want to take home with you. I truly believe you won’t be disappointed.
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