Friday, 26 February 2016

Book Review: Keeping the Home Fires Burning by Daran Little

It is 1914 and for fifteen-year-old Ena Scholfield, life will never be the same again. As she joins the waving and cheering crowds, Ena watches childhood pals, workmates, and neighbours proudly marching off to War. Ena's friendship with Mission caretaker Gladys Arkswright brings her into daily contact with the occupants of Coronation Street and she is welcomed into a community bereft of young men, but one where there is never a dull moment. 

Packed full of wartime romance, emotional hardship and resilient humour, "Keeping the Home Fires Burning" embraces all that the show's twenty million fans love about Coronation Street.

My Review:
This is a Coronation Street novel set against the backdrop of World War One and featuring characters from the series when they were much younger.

It follows the life of young Ena (who becomes battleaxe Ena Sharples) as she watches all the men start to leave for war. She feels sympathy for shy Albert Tatlock who has nobody to write to him and she agrees to be his new friend. She finds first love with Phil, nephew of the Mission Hall caretaker Gladys, who takes Ena under her wing. There are also Ena's friends which include sharp tongued Martha and dotty Minnie.

The book does cover a lot of what was happening during the war. The local shopkeeper and his wife are targeted and beaten because she is German and gossips wrongly claim that she is going to poison the customers. This was a really ugly scene in the book which you can imagine did happen to innocent people. There is the pressure being put on men to volunteer and even underage boys are feeling forced to go and sign up in case they are thought of as cowards. The day to day struggles are worsened when the telegrams about the dead and injured from the Street start to get delivered. You just just imagine the terror of seeing the postman stop at your door if your husband and sons are fighting. Every family have relatives or friends who are fighting far from home and they share the delight of letters home and the dread of what could be happening.

Ena is a kind and tolerant young girl who is eager to help people around her. She does not share the wild patriotism of her mother and she is one of many to suffer the grief of losing loved ones. Her friendships with Albert and the married son of a shady doctor, Alfred Sharples, get the tongues wagging around her. Friendships are also tested when the man Minnie loves and wants to marry makes a pass at a horrified Ena, and Martha continues to spread her bile and gossip with little regard for truth or accuracy.

This was an enjoyable book featuring characters we know from the TV series as well as characters that were introduced through various Daran Little books about the Street ie the spiteful and evil Ivy. What is it about that name in Corrie! I recommend it to fans of Corrie, fans of historical fiction and those with an interest in the home lives of those during the war.  
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