Wait For Me By Caroline Leech (HarperTeen £7.99)
Reviewed by Karen Byrom
Seventeen-year-old Lorna Anderson can’t wait to escape the endless chores on her family’s East Lothian farm. But between the farm, schoolwork, rationing and knitting Red Cross scarves, it’s a wonder Lorna has time to dream at all!
True, in the absence of Lorna’s brothers John Jo and Sandy, landgirl Nellie is there to help. But when lambing time comes round, Lorna’s father realises he needs more hands and drafts in Paul Vogel, a young German from the nearby prisoner-of-war camp.
At first Lorna is repulsed by Paul. He’s the enemy, one of the men who might one day kill her brothers. And one side of his face is horribly disfigured by war injuries. But his eyes are twinkly, his lips soft, and his nature kind and gentle. Gradually Lorna warms to him.
Fraternizing with the enemy
But what will those around her have to say about fraternizing with the enemy? Kindly housekeeper Mrs Mack might accept their friendship but Lorna’s schoolchum Iris and her pompous boyfriend William have plenty to say. And when John Jo comes home on leave, Paul and Lorna find their fledgling relationship may be over before it has properly begun.
A love story for everyone to enjoy
Wait For Me has everything you could ask for in a wartime romance. There are American GIs – overpaid, oversexed and over here – bomb raids and Anderson shelters, dances and romances, and of course the sense of a community that pulls together in troubled times.
Caroline Leech has a real flair for characters. Lorna is strong, sharp-tongued and loyal, a girl anyone would want as a friend. Paul is sensitive but never weak, immediately likeable. Like Lorna, the reader soon forgets his disfigurement. Nellie is fun, a typical Cockney in the countryside, out for a good time. And in Iris, the author has made a girl we should dislike into one of the most sympathetic characters in the story … even if we will never warm to her boyfriend William!
While Wait For Me has been marketed for the teenage market, don’t let that put you off. It is a love story that anyone of any age can enjoy, a page-turner with a gripping plot and satisfying conclusion that leaves you hoping this debut from Caroline Leech is the first of many.
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