I would probably have picked up The very thought of you by Rosie Alison in due course anyway, had it not been on the Orange longlist, since I generally like good novels set during the Second World War (there are a lot of "historical romances" out there for this period which I tend to avoid), but the list brought it to my attention rather sooner.
Set at Ashton Hall in Yorkshire, The very thought of you deals with the experiences of evacuees from London centring around the character of Anna, a young girl. However, it is not a straightforward evacuee story. The plot revoles more around deals with the couple who own Ashton Hall, Thomas and Elizabeth and their disintegrating, childless marriage. Anna becomes drawn into their lives, and the couple's relationship. There are also subplots featuring Anna's father who is away fighting, and Anna's mother who is trying to work out a new way of life on her own in London.
The events at Ashton Hall during the war turn out to have a profound influence on the rest of Anna's life, and we revisit her later, still trying to make sense of the things that happened then and the relationships formed.
It didn't grip me in the way that Hearts and Minds or This is how did (I'm sorry, I know I keep banging on about that), but it was a lovely read that didn't take too much effort and I warmly recommend it to all of you who enjoy Second World War fiction.
The Coast of Bohemia – Edith Pargeter
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