Today it my pleasure to bring you Mary Rosie’s War by Catherine M Byrne as part of her blog tour.
WW2 has been declared. A strange find on the beach gives Mary Rosie the chance to fulfil her dreams and contribute to her country, but all is not what she imagined.
After witnessing the first bomb to be dropped on mainland Britain, Mary watches her friends leave to join the forces and longs to be with them, but is held back by loyalty to her widowed mother.
France has capitulated. Johnny Allan’s regiment has been annihilated by German troops north of Paris. Johnny has to find a way to get home and to the girl who no longer waits for him.
Leisel is a German Jew who lost her family to the Nazis and has to make her way in Britain, a strange new country, while harbouring a desire for revenge.
Their lives become entangled in a way that no one could have envisaged.
A story about war, family ties, love, loyalty and loss.
As you are all aware, I love World War II historical fiction, particularly when it focuses on the plight of women during that era. That is why I jumped at the chance to be a part of this blog tour and read this lovely book. I must admit that I devoured this novel, reading it over a couple of evenings.
The novel focusses on Mary Rosie and other characters who touch her and her family. I must confess to not having read any of the other 4 novels in the Raumsey series, however I did not feel I was missing anything by not doing so. This book than therefore definitely be read as a standalone.
Mary is a young woman living in Scotland with her widowed mother. When the first bomb drops nearby, she witnesses firsthand the death and destruction the war is causing. She is desperate to follow her female friends into war, but is held back out of loyalty to her mother. When an opportunity presents itself, Mary Rosie leaves home and signs up to the war effort.
Whilst the novel does follow Mary, it also touches on the lives Chrissie, Mary’s mother, Johnny, her childhood sweetheart and Liesel, a German Jew whose life is crushed by loss as she seeks revenge. Their stories are intertwined as they each forge their own path through six years of hardship and loss whilst trying to find their way back to family and love.
I found that Mary Rosie’s War really depicted the tragedy of war, but also the amazing determination and hope that existed during such a hard time full of loss and devastation. The descriptions of pain and love, hope and loss are beautiful and ring true, all set against a Scottish landscape. This novel was reminiscent of Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein, a book I read last year that I really loved (check out my review here).
If you enjoy historical fiction then I would definitely recommend Mary Rosie’s War to you, go and grab yourself a copy and let me know what you think!
Rating: 📖 📖 📖 📖
Thank you to Rachel’s Random Resources for allowing me to a part of this wonderful tour, and providing me with a copy of this novel in exchange for my honest review.
Catherine Byrne always wanted to be a writer. She began at the age of eight by drawing comic strips with added dialogue and later, as a teenager, graduated to poetry. Her professional life however, took a very different path. She first studied glass engraving with Caithness Glass where she worked for fourteen years. During that time she also worked as a foster parent. After the birth of her youngest child she changed direction, studying and becoming a chiropodist with her own private practice. At the same time she did all the administration work for her husband’s two businesses, and this continued until the death of her husband in 2005. However she still maintained her love of writing, and has had several short stories published in women’s magazines. Her main ambition was to write novels and she has now retired in order to write full time.
Born and brought up until the age of nine on the Island of Stroma, she heard many stories from her grandparents about the island life of a different generation. Her family moved to the mainland at a time when the island was being depopulated, although it took another ten years before the last family left.
An interest in geology, history and her strong ties to island life have influenced her choice of genre for her novels.
Since first attending the AGM of the Scottish Association of Writers in 1999, Catherine has won several prizes, commendations and has been short-listed both for short stories and chapters of her novels. In 2009, she won second prize in the general novel category for ‘Follow The Dove’
In 2016 The Road to Nowhere won second prize in the Barbara Hammond competition for Best Self Published novel. The follow up, Isa’s Daughter won 1st prize in the same competition the following year.
Although the books follow the fortunes of the same family, they are all stand-alone.
The fifth book in the Raumsey series is Mary Rosie’s War.
Catherine Byrne lives in Wick, Caithness.