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England, Cairo and Rome
Shortlisted for the October Book of the Month
Katherine Bishop is seventeen years old and she has two dreams: to sing and to 'do her bit' for the war effort. Against her father's wishes, she runs away from her home in Kings Lynn, Norfolk, to London hoping to fulfil at least one of those dreams. Eventually she passes an audition to join ENSA, despite being just too young, and is posted to Egypt. Unfortunately, there are always petty jealousies and Katherine (now known as Kitty Townsend,) falls foul of the leading act, messes up on her début and is almost sent home before she has even started. But she has friends and thanks to the intervention of an Italian officer who is a prisoner of war, she is kept on and begins the difficult climb to success. Needless to say, she falls in love with the Italian, but when she is ordered to spy on him to establish his loyalties, a disaster is inevitable.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book with some plot twists that will have you gasping 'I didn't see that coming'! Kitty is very likeable and very well portrayed as she transforms from naïve dreamer to experienced realist.
The cover is most distinctive and extremely eye catching, depicting Kitty as she first sets out on her journey. Superbly designed, except there is an error in it - and to criticise it is to be very picky in the extreme, as only ‘anoraks’ like myself would spot it, so it's no big deal! (But for those with an enquiring mind… see below.)
Although part of a trilogy called The Voyagers, this volume is eminently readable as a stand alone and it is not necessary to have read any of the others as they deal with different generations. On the evidence of this story, I would recommend the others purely on the skilful plot and excellent writing.
© Richard Tearle
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(Kitty would have taken the Great Eastern Line from Norfolk to Liverpool Street in London. The locomotive pictured is an LMS [London Midlands] loco.)