A hidden diary, a room, a cottage, brings about a merger between the past, of the 1940s into the present. Lorna Haynes, has recently lost her beloved husband, Matt. She and her two sons need to escape Norwich, where the memories of Matt pervade her every thought. With her children in tow, Lorna heads to Latham, where her mother, newly married to David have inherited The Gameskeeper’s Cottage. It is a chance for Lorna and the boys to get away and start searching for some peace. It is in the annex of the cottage that Lorna discovers the red leather covered diary with the introduction of “My name is Nancy Jones. ….and I have a secret.”
It is through this diary, that we learn of Nancy, and her friends, former ack ack girls whose job it was to fire at the Nazi planes that pervaded their town. It was a job never thought to be held by women but the scarcity of men out fighting the war in Europe and other environs, left the job to the girls. However, now the war is over, and for Nancy and her friends facing the “back to the real world” challenge was a trying ordeal. No longer were they content with the former life of being a housewife, a stay-at-home mother and other things considered “women’s work” and Nancy knows that part of the world is not for her. As she and her husband Joe return to the family’s home, Nancy finds herself as a part of the battle between new and old. She knows she is ever so proficient with a gun and could be a true asset to the family’s job of gamekeepers, but the men, particularly her father-in-law are extremely opposed. Nancy feels hemmed in. She wants to be Joe’s wife but struggles greatly with the choice she seems to be forced to make and as she pours out her heart in the diary, Nancy reveals many inner thoughts and desires, plus one large secret, she and her ack ack girlfriends have between them.
As Lorna becomes entrenched in the words of the diary, we get to relive both of the ladies’ lives, their hopes and dreams and of course their sorrows. Lorna is ever so anxious to get to the end of this diary, but finds the last few pages have been ripped out. The diary has so consumed her thoughts, that she is determined to find an ending, to track down these former ack ack girls and find an ending. However, so many years have passed that it is doubtful any of the girls are still alive, but Lorna must try.
I enjoyed the story and felt the author did a fine job of merging the past with the present with a bit of mystery and suspense tucked within its pages. Thank you to Anna Stuart, Bookouture, and Net Galley for an advanced copy of this story due out August 3, 2021.