Book review: Evie's Allies by Kitty Danton

The hopes and fears, joys and disasters of an English wartime village spring to exciting life in the second book of Kitty Danton's warm and captivating debut trilogy.
Evies Allies by Kitty DantonEvies Allies by Kitty Danton
Evies Allies by Kitty Danton

Danton is a born and bred Devonian and her entertaining Dartmoor Chronicles were inspired by the experiences of her mother June during the long days of the Second World War.

Drawing on the tales of an earlier generation, Danton sweeps us away to an age of blackout, rationing, romance, friendship, tragedy and the community spirit that kept the country and its people afloat.

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At the heart of these charming and lively books is young schoolteacher Evie Yeo whose dreams of working in a big city were scuppered by the onset of hostilities. She fears that life will be dull in her quiet home village but, after landing job at the local primary school, wartime seems to be throwing up the most unexpected twists and turns.

After having her heart broken not once but twice, Evie has sworn off men and is focusing on her job teaching at the village school in Lymbridge in Devon. Her class is much bigger now that evacuees have come to Lymbridge and if she thought that her previous boss – the mother of her scoundrel ex-fiancé Timmy Bowes – was bad, she is in for a tough autumn term with new headmaster Mr Bassett.

Although not yet 30 years old himself, Mr Bassett regards Evie as a young flibbertigibbet and merely a ‘make-do-for-now’ answer to the problem of appointing a new infant teacher.

Meanwhile, it’s a busy time for all in the village as Linda is getting married and there is a dress to make, Tricia’s baby is due any day now and Evie is determined to help raise the spirits of the men in the local recuperation hospital.

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But friends and family always come first, especially in a place like Lymbridge, and as the Yeos have to face more than their fair share of troubles, it’s good to know that allies are not hard to find. Wartime is a time to come together but when a familiar face returns, Evie might find that her broken heart isn’t as easy to forget as she’d hoped...

Danton fields an engaging and charismatic cast of characters who are fast becoming as familiar as old friends. Whether it’s Evie’s colourful family or her band of friends, pupils and colleagues, there is never a dull moment in this entertaining, multi-faceted story of love and life in wartime.

(Orion, hardback, £19.99)