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Shelter

Shelter

Blurb

In Spring 1944 Connie arrives in the Forest of Dean fleeing from the devastating losses she faced in Coventry and carrying a massive secret.

Around the same time Seppe arrives at a camp for Italian prisoners of war. In order to escape a face from the past he ends up working alongside Connie in her job as a ‘lumberjill.’

Shelter describes the consequences of this meeting, how it feels to start again when everything you know is lost, and the different definitions of family


Our Review

Shelter by Sarah Franklin is not just another tragic war story, it is more a story about strong bonds that can form in a community and about unexpectedly finding somewhere you can call home. The only downside was that I felt it had ended a bit too abruptly but as my disappointment was a sign I really enjoyed this book I can’t complain too much.

In Spring 1944 Connie arrives in the Forest of Dean fleeing from the devastating losses she faced in Coventry and carrying a massive secret.

Around the same time Seppe arrives at a camp for Italian prisoners of war. In order to escape a face from the past he ends up working alongside Connie in her job as a ‘lumberjill.’

Shelter describes the consequences of this meeting, how it feels to start again when everything you know is lost, and the different definitions of family.

Connie is unused to life in the countryside after having spent her early years living in Coventry. She gets scared by the sheep roaming around freely and frequent creeping and scratching noises she can hear in the night.

The book begins with Connie getting ready for a dance and thinking back to the frequent dances she used to attend when she was living in Coventry.

“Invincible, that’s what they’d been. But then, before they’d even known what they had, it was shattered.”

At this early stage in the book Sarah Franklin keeps us in the dark as to the reasons why Connie left Coventry and what has caused her to leave behind the fun-loving and carefree side of her nature.

Connie is adamant that she is not going to move on from her placement as a ‘lumberjill’, it really matters to her that she doesn’t get moved on to another placement. To her surprise she takes to felling trees and excels at it.

Whilst working in the forest Connie is staying with a prickly man named Amos. Amos turned out to be my favourite character in this book, he reminded me very much of Mr Tom from Goodnight Mr Tom. Despite being initially stoic and standoffish, Amos will do anything for friends and family.

Seppe is an Italian prisoner of war and is on his way to Camp 61 in the Forest of Dean when he is first introduced to the reader. Seppe feels out of place among his fellow prisoners as he had been fighting for a cause he abhorred and secretly feels relief that he no longer has to pretend to believe.

“Overlaying the nausea now, overlaying too, the anxiety of what may lay ahead, was dishonourable relief that they were truly done with fighting…it made him a bad patriot, but he’d been a bad patriot for a long time.”

Seppe’s upbringing has bred in him the ability to sense danger and he is pleasantly surprised when he realises that the camp is a nice place and the guards are fairly friendly and relaxed with the prisoners.

Seppe’s sense of safety is threatened when a face from his past shows up and he ends up seeking refuge by convincing Connie’s boss to let him help fell trees.

Connie’s boss Frank has a real passion for the forest and is pleasantly surprised by the effort Connie and Seppe make in order to meet his quota. Frank’s character is another character that I really took to, not least because of his dedication to preserving the forest.

“Now you listen to me, my girls. Don’t go thinking that forestry’s easy work, or that every tree’s the same…This is more than just war work. This forest do matter more than any of us.”

Frank and his wife, Joyce, are both simple and uncomplicated characters. Each one provides friendship for both Connie and Seppe and a sense that this may be a place they could call home.

When I started reading Shelter I wasn’t expecting to find a book that would stay with me after reading it but Sarah Franklin’s writing style and character development is such that I would be surprised if there are many readers that don’t make a space for it on their bookshelf.

Our Final Rating...

Our Rating

  • Currently 4.5/5

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