On Hist Fic Saturday
Let's Go Back to .....1935
15 June 2018
My thanks to the publishers for my copy of this book
In the summer of 1935, sixteen year old, Hazel is left pretty much to her own devices as Hazel's father is on business abroad, and her mother, Francine spends time with her lover, Charles, in London. The seaside village of Aldwick has long been Hazel's home, and she is more than familiar with its dull routines but when a group of Oswald Mosley supporters arrive to spend a summer camp in the village things start to liven up considerably for Hazel, when, almost inadvertently, she gets drawn into the group. Amongst the Blackshirts, she comes into contact with are Lucia and Tom, two very different people, who are set to have a long lasting effect on her life.
What then follows is a realistic coming of age story which is set in the tumultuous years in the run up to WW2. The rise of communism and the ideology of the fascist movement are explored in a very readable way, and bringing Hazel into contact with characters who support and then challenge this philosophy makes for fascinating reading.
Beautifully written so that, as a reader, you quickly form an emotional attachment to the characters and from very early in the novel I really warmed to Hazel even though her youthful exuberance is tempered against the restrictions of the time in which she lived. Practically ignored by both of her parents and taught to fend for herself, Hazel has a natural resilience which is very reassuring and lends focus for what is to follow in her life. The other characters who add the necessary light and shade are so finely drawn that they seem very realistic, particularly, Hazel's mother, Francine, who has more than enough angst of her own to fill an entirely separate story.
The Faithful is one of those fascinating multi-layered stories which focuses on, not just the difficulties of coming of age in a time when war was inching ever closer, but which also emphasises the complications of living in a challenging time when so much was left unsaid and people hid their thoughts and feelings from one another. It was a time when stigma and doctrine went hand in hand and to be living life in such a time was fraught with difficulties.
Imaginatively described and beautifully researched, The Faithful takes us from the Sussex seaside to the battlefields of the Spanish Civil war and shares an emotional depth and resonance which lingers long after the story is finished.
About the Author
Juliet West worked as a journalist before taking an MA in Creative Writing at Chichester University, where she won the Kate Betts' Memorial Prize. Before the Fall, her debut novel, was shortlisted for the Myriad Editions novel-writing competition in 2012. Juliet also writes short stories and poetry, and won the H. E. Bates short story prize in 2009. The Faithful is her second novel. She lives in West Sussex with her husband and three children.
To find out more about Juliet and her writing please go to her website
Follow on Twitter @JulietWest14 #TheFaithful
I am delighted to say that Juliet will be my guest on the blog on the 11 August 2018.