21 May The Brave Daughters by Mary Wood
This epic WWII story delivers hope through the horrors of war, as a new generation takes up arms against the enemy of freedom.
I’m delighted to be invited to review this thrilling new World War II story by best-selling writer Mary Wood, the author of the Girls Who Went To War series. The first three books follow the fortunes of Flora, Ella and Mags and their friends as they find love through adversity during the frightening years of WWI.
Now, in a new stand-alone story, The Brave Daughters, the next generation of young women must prove every bit as brave and resilient as their mothers as the world goes to war again, and they enlist in the various forces.
Sisters, Florrie, Daisy and Rosie join the nursing profession, while cousins Sibbie and Marjie enlist in the WAAF. But they have language skill that see them recruited by the Special Operations Executive and trained for the most dangerous job of all. Not even their mothers must know that they are working in France as undercover agents.
The narrative follows them all on their adventures, on the Home Front and overseas.
While Daisy and Florrie head for Singapore, Rosie remains at home tending wounded soldiers. What will happen when she falls in love with a German prisoner-of-war? Surely heartbreak lies ahead. Meanwhile her sisters face very real danger as the Japanese advance on Singapore. Will the three ever be together again?
Danger and heartbreak
Over in France, Sibbie and Marjie are reunited with some of the menfolk of their family as they take up arms with the French resistance to help rid the country of the Nazi invaders. Highly trained in the art of war, they do and see things that will haunt them forever. But their duty is to their country, and they must not flinch from carrying out their orders, no matter the danger or heartbreak it brings to them and to the men they love.
As the story follows all the girls on their courageous journeys, the terrible things they face are described in unflinching detail. But though scenes of rape and torture don’t always make for easy reading, thankfully the strong themes of friendship, family ties and romance help relieve the horror.
Their stories – and that of their mothers and aunts as they go through their own fresh wartime trials – are told in such meticulous detail that you almost feel you are there with them, not just on the wards or the warships or in their French hideouts, but at the tearooms and the dance halls and the loving homes where they can occasionally retreat to, to find solace and comfort with friends and family before bravely going forth to do battle again.
You’ll cry buckets
Mary Wood confides the inspiration for this story was that bravest of women, WWI nurse Edith Cavell, and certainly her research for both WWI in her previous books and for WWII in this one, is impeccable. Whether on the Home Front or abroad, her narrative immerses you in the wartime years so convincingly you’ll think you’re there, sharing the tension, danger and fear of her brave heroines – and let’s not forget the heroes. Paulo, Will, Albie, Cyrus, Arnie, Billy – they, too have their part to play in bringing down the enemy.
What I found particularly convincing was that Mary Wood’s characters, strong and determined as each is, is not afraid to show fear or emotion. These women know that courage and duty means nothing without friendship, love, and family, and they support each other every step on the way to a new hard-fought peace.
Of course, there are casualties on the way, and you’ll cry buckets from time to time. But if you’re looking for a story that describes the resilience, courage and dignity of women bound by friendship and blood, then The Brave Daughters is for you.
Good to Know …
The first three book in The Girls Who Went To War series are The Forgotten Daughter, The Abandoned Daughter and The Wronged Daughter. You’ll meet all the characters from them in The Brave Daughters. Though it’s not necessary to read them to enjoy The Brave Daughters – you soon get to know Florrie, Ella, Mags and all their friends – I’d recommend you read them, too, just for the sheer pleasure of catching up with their stories and appreciating just how they passed on their bravery, loyalty and love to the next generation.
The Brave Daughters is published by Pan in paperback, RRP £7.99
About the author
Mary Wood began her career writing northern sagas along the lines of Catherine Cookson, whom she loved and admired. She’s now branched out and writes thrilling novels with a wartime setting – discover more about her and her books at authormarywood.com and subscribe to her newsletter for the chance to win signed copies.
Thanks so much to Pan MacMillan and Mary Wood for inviting me to review this book and to NetGalley for the advance copy.