Joanna Ryan’s father has gone off to war, leaving her in the care of her step-mother, a woman more concerned with having a good time than being any sort of parent to her.
But then she finds a puppy, left for dead, and Joanna’s becomes determined to save him, sharing her meagre rations with him. But, in a time of war, pets are only seen as an unnecesary burden and she is forced to hide her new friend, Harry from her step-mother and the authorities. With bombs falling over Bristol and with the prospect of evacuation on the horizon can they keep stay together and keep each other safe?
Since I started book blogging several years ago I've had the chance to discover some new genres; genres I don't think I would have just as easily come into touch with if I hadn't started reviewing novels. One of those genres is wartime romances/sagas. I've never really been incredibly fascinated by war, but I really enjoy the nostalgic feel of novels by authors such as Margaret Graham, Katie Flynn and Ellie Dean, and have really come to appreciate the genre and its ability to make readers step back in time and, in a way, experience what things could be like during these horrible times. Today I've got a review to share of a book by a wartime romance author that is new to me, namely Lizzie Lane, and I was curious to see what I would think of her latest release 'War Orphans'.
After the death of her mother and her father having to join the army, Joanna Ryan knew her life wasn't going to be better. Her step-mother Elspeth has more important things to do than take care of a young girl, and doesn't shy away from making Joanna do all the cleaning and locking her in the coal shed whenever she has misbehaved. When Joanna unexpectedly finds an abandoned puppy outside, she suddenly has something to be happy about again and her days start to revolve around taking care of Harry. However, during a time of war humans take priority over pets, so Joanna knows she has to keep Harry hidden from everyone, especially her step-mother, if she wants to make sure they can stay together...
It only took the first few chapters of 'War Orphans' for me to warm to its main character, young girl Joanna, and I continued to root for her until the very end of the book. The story has a kind of Cinderella element to it, as Joanna is forced to live with her slightly 'evil' step-mother Elspeth, who doesn't seem to care about anything but herself. Joanna is a lovely girl and her love and devotion to the small puppy she finds and names Harry is heartwarming, especially considering everything that's thrown her way. I have to admit I was a bit worried at first that the storyline, as described in the book blurb, would be a bit one sided, but there was more than enough going on to hold my attention throughout the novel.
Next to Joanna and Harry, who really is quite the adorable puppy, there are some other interesting characters that play a significant role in the novel. There's Elspeth, who's one of those characters you can't help but truly dislike; Ms. Hadley, Joanna's teacher, and her father Seb, who is dealing with the still painful loss of his wife. The characters deal with their own issues, but what unites them is the warmth at the core of this novel and that's also one of the things I enjoyed most about it. 'War Orphans' is a heart-warming and enjoyable wartime story which I enjoyed from start to finish, a perfect read to pick up if you're a fan of the wartime genre!