This is the first of my Books On Tour book reviews, I enjoyed it, especially the moving Australian War Memorial scenes.
Lizzie Windridge is a typical teenager living on a farm in a rural community. Self-obsessed and vulnerable to manipulation, Lizzie pretends everything is going well with her new friend Ashleigh who prompts her to follow the drop-dead gorgeous football player Brandon. Her grades are slipping and ignoring her former friends is getting easier. Her older brother Mark is always getting in the way. His friend Nick is on the football team too. She spends more time watching Brandon play than visiting her ailing Grandmother. When she is asked by her mother, then her grandmother, to read letters left at the old house on the farm, Lizzie is reluctant to act. The old house is creepy with its musty smells and original furniture still there like a time capsule.
One hundred years earlier Evie is in love with Tom who is the youngest of five brothers who live on a neighbouring farm. Her father is a staunch Irishman and does not approve of the blossoming romance. When the World War breaks out young men in the district are signing up to join the campaign battle. Evie knows that Tom has enlisted to be with his brothers, and she gives him a small key to carry with him as a token of her devotion.
When Lizzie is rescued by her brother Mark and his friend Nick from a devastating situation, she starts to turn her life around. She knows now that Brandon is the son of the Bank Manager threatening to foreclose on the family farm. She also realises how reading the letters from the past can help her find her own place in the world. The expensive school excursion to Canberra is a welcome escape. Mark helps her parents pay for the trip as he wants to help his sister. Nick is on the school trip too. Can she face him as he knows the horrible truth? Lizzie learns a lot about her family history, the battles and the tragedy that her great grandparents endured while exploring the War Museum with Nick.
Evie lives through the tragedy that her neighbour’s family suffers, losing young men who never return from the battlefront. She faces her challenges in finding her own way in the world with meddling from her father causing her anguish. Will she find love again once the survivors of the War return home?
I read this book quickly and was swept along with the historical references and story of the Windridge family. Allison has written compelling accounts of the battles in horrendous conditions of World War One. Only at the conclusion of the book in Author Acknowledgements did I discover the research is based on her own Marlow family history. The vivid battle conditions and terrible loss of life suffered by rural Australian families. I will now need to read Anzac Sons: The Story of Five Brothers in the War to End All Wars.