In 1914 in the English town of Eldenfield, Nellie Parkin is considered the smarter girl when compared to her younger sister, Sally, who everyone marks as prettier. Unfortunately, when the cries of war begin to sweep the nation and personal tragedy strikes, Nellie is forced to begin work at the mill where too many of her poverty-stricken family members and neighbors have worked before her. All hope of further schooling seems lost. Soon, though, Nellie is given a chance to help the war effort by becoming a nursing aide on the front, which opens up her world in more ways than she would have ever thought possible.
The novel is, at its heart, the journey of a young woman coming of age and coming into her own at a time when all the world was beginning to change. There are a number of references to the changing consciousness of the people of Nellie’s small town, and this can be compared to the attitudes of our current times as well. The novel does stray from Nellie at many points, giving us an account of others’ struggles and joys throughout the time of WWI, but this isn’t necessarily a problem, although a title change might be helpful to those who could become confused by it.
Aside from a few unnecessary commas, the grammar was solid, but the dialogue can come off a bit stilted. The characters speak in the dialect of the time period, which can change drastically from chapter to chapter and is sometimes overused (such as the phrase “our Nellie” or “our Penny”). With the exception of one chapter, which is an unnecessary journal entry, the story is told in a way that is consistent, clear, and readable.
The biggest criticism is that the book doesn’t seem to have gone through an overall content edit having been finished. Certain ideas and phrases are repeated too frequently, and the author seems to be discovering everything as the readers do. A strong edit could perhaps alleviate some of these issues and allow the novel to feel smoother and more expertly crafted. The story, however, is sweet and heartfelt, which cannot be fabricated.
~Julia Tilford for IndieReader