For American Claire Stewart, joining the French Resistance sounded as romantic as the story lines she hopes will one day grace the novels she wants to write. But when she finds herself stranded on English shores, with five French Jewish children she smuggled across the channel before Nazis stormed Paris, reality feels more akin to fear.
With nowhere to go, Claire throws herself on the mercy of an estranged aunt, begging Lady Miranda Langford to take the children into her magnificent estate. Heavily weighted with grief of her own, Miranda reluctantly agrees . . . if Claire will stay to help. Though desperate to return to France, Claire has few options. But her tumultuous upbringing—spent in the refuge of novels with fictional friends—has ill-prepared her for the daily dramas of raising children. Nor could she foresee how the tentacles of war will invade their quiet haven, threatening all who have come to call Bluebell Wood home and risking the only family she’s ever known.
Set in England’s lush and storied Lake District in the early days of World War II, and featuring cameos from beloved literary icons Beatrix Potter and C. S. Lewis, Until We Find Home is an unforgettable portrait of life on the British home front, challenging us to remember that bravery and family come in many forms.
Until We Find Home was a beautiful book, a wonderful telling of the beginning of World War 2 from a perspective you don’t often read about. This was the first book I have read by Cathy Gohlke — and I am pretty certain, after finishing this one, that it won’t be the last :D
The story starts in France, and quickly moves into England. It details the home life of the war — the rationing, the making do, the bombing, the home security. I appreciated reading about the sentiments of the British as the Americans delayed — again and again — to enter into the war and to fight against Hitler and the evil he represented. I don’t remember any mentions of battle scenes, besides what was heard on the radio and written in letters….and I enjoyed this immensely. It is common to find books written about soldiers; about war nurses, and danger and heroism. This book was different. It highlighted a work that was just as important as the battles of the war itself: caring for those left behind. A different kind of heroism, that was beautiful and amazing and inspiring.
The bits with the children were precious to read, and I appreciated learning about some of the Jewish customs that are held. I also liked that Claire and her aunt incorporated Jewish traditions into their home, trying to make the children feel more at home. I liked how Claire’s character grew as she interacted with the children, and how her relationship with each child changed. The Claire in the beginning of the book leaves much to be desired — the Claire at the end is a beautiful, responsible woman.
The faith aspect of this book is different from most I have read. Claire is not a Christian, and there is no mention of any character specifically being a Christian until about midway through the novel. It was quite clear that Claire, and the other characters, were serving themselves and not Christ. About midway through the book there is a character introduced that is a Christian in word and deed, and is a wonderful example of Christianity lived out in daily life. There is a distinct, subtle difference between the Christian and those who aren’t. The Christian has different attitudes, looking for ways to serve the children, striving to be joyful, even though he himself is struggling, speaking wise words when needed — it is a difference between a morally good life and a life that is live for Christ’s glory. The contrast was well written, and I appreciated it. When Claire does become a Christian, there is fruit of this…..although it doesn’t happen until the last third of the book. The scene that was supposed to be her conversion — I think — was a dream she had. But I was a left being a bit confused about that aspect of the whole thing. Suffice it to say that she did change afterwards :D
There is a wedding at the end of the book — but the relationship wasn’t some emotionally driven love story at all. Actually, neither character had any intentions of falling in love. The relationship was forged as the two worked together for a bigger cause than their own desires, and culminated in a marriage.
The whiffs of other literary characters that were woven into the story made it so fun! I mean, incorporating Beatrix Potter into the story was a wonderful addition! It added to the quaintness of the countryside, and added a light hearted touch to a serious time in history.
Overall, I would lend this out to others without any qualms =P
I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
All thoughts are my own.