It was just about three months ago that I was given by a kind relation who enjoys reading, a gift voucher for a well known book and stationery store and in early June, a new book by a favourite author of mine came out so I called in and used it to buy this book.
Entitled Wave My Goodbye, it is about the world of one Shirley L. Smith who lives with her Mom who works in an office and Dad who has joined the Army in the centre of London in Nineteen Thirty-nine.
It has been decided all the children need to be evacuated as the threat of war with Nazi Germany for their own well-being from bombing and it is being done on a school by school basis.
The whole of Paradise Road Junior School is called up, so Shirley has to have a suitcase packed with a change of clothes including night wear plus her favourite dolls and books before her mommy sees her off at London Victoria railway station which after some fuss she is allowed to sit with the girls of the St Agatha's Convent School of whom it transpires seem to get the best of everything, enroute to Meadow Ridge way out in the countryside.
Arrangements for billeting the children and staff seem very rushed as nothing had been prearranged between the W.V.S. and W.I.and the children are taken around the village until someone claims them. Unfortunately Shirley plus two east end boys, Kevin and Archie appear to stuck with nowhere to go until with some reluctance Mrs Waverley and Chubby who is her assistant at the Red House, decides to take them in although it appears they hadn't enough food in for them straightaway nor beds .
The children are bought new clothes which for Shirley includes a School Tunic and tie as she only had a pleated skirt with attached bodice and a party frock to change into plus Mrs Waverley also loves reading so they have something in common.
The story sees them attending school in extra classes of the villages local school with lessons by who is brisk, kind in some ways but not opposed to strapping misbehaving children.
They appear to get on although life has it's ups and downs not least with one of the boys having a problem with bed wetting that creates a lot of work but following an accident when Kevin follows Shirley who can look at Mrs Waverley's dolls house from the end of the war and to which is a kind of model of the life who had hope to have until her husband was killed in the Great War (W.W.1) and in the course of playing with it breaks the arm of the dolly of him, she gets upset and Kevin and Shirley run off back to London where she is met by her dad for a few days.
He returns them and smooths over the misunderstandings with Chubby and Mrs Waverley so they feel at home and so stay there until the war is over.
The story is one that is undeniable moving, based on what happened across much of Great Britain during the build up and shortly after World War Two, when our major city areas were deemed to unsafe for children and they travelled often more in hope that everything would work out being without their parents.
It is also true that some didn't want 'city children' and their ways around and others only wanted them for much more for what they could bring them on say farms for labour rather than providing a safe place to live and yet for others it did bring changes for the better in their lives having access to fresh air and countryside.
As a book I found it highly enjoyable although a bit sad in places, telling an important story about the social history of being a child caught up in the storms of war having to adjust to vastly different realities.