I am pleased to be welcoming Sarah Franklin to the blog today and the tour for her debut novel, Shelter.
Early spring 1944.
Connie Granger has escaped her bombed-out city home, finding refuge in the Women’s Timber Corps. For her, this remote community must now serve a secret purpose.
Seppe, an Italian prisoner of war, is haunted by his memories. In the forest camp, he finds a strange kind of freedom.
Their meeting signals new beginnings. But as they are drawn together, the world outside their forest haven is being torn apart. Old certainties are crumbling, and both must now make a life-defining choice.
What price will they pay for freedom? What will they fight to protect?
Shelter is a story about WWII told from a unique point of view.
Connie has found herself in the Forest of Dean in the middle of the Second World War. She is training to be a lumberjill. To begin with, she is there to escape things from her past but she also comes to find some solace in the trees.
Seppe is a POW from Italy who has been brought to a camp on the edge of the forest. He doesn’t share some of the views of his fellow prisoners and this doesn’t make him very popular.
It’s not long before Connie and Seppe’s paths cross and something begins to happen that neither of them were expecting.
From the first page, I loved Connie. She has something about her that is very likeable. She isn’t afraid to speak her mind but she’s not cruel. It’s clear she has things she is hiding/escaping from and as these are revealed through the book, it’s not difficult to feel empathy for her.
Seppe is such a gentle soul that it was also hard not to fall in love with him a little. He and Connie make quite the double act.
The setting and the way the scenes are described, I could really imagine being in the forest surrounded by trees (which incidentally are one of my favourite things.)
Another great thing is that with the many twists and turns in the plot, I couldn’t figure out what was going to happen or how it was going to end.
This is not necessarily the type of book I would pick up which is why I love doing this blog and having the opportunity to review this fantastic debut.
The main themes running through the book are family, friendship, love and how perceptions about people can be initially wrong. Anyone can surprise you.
I am looking forward to seeing what Sarah does next. I really do recommend Shelter. It will take you through a rollercoaster of emotions. I suggest having some tissues handy. If you’re anything like me, you will cry.
Sarah Franklin grew up in rural Gloucestershire and has lived in Austria, Germany, the USA and Ireland.
She lectures in publishing at Oxford Brookes University and has written for the Guardian, Psychologies magazine, The Pool, the Sunday Express and the Seattle Times.
Sarah is the founder and host of Short Stories Aloud, and a judge for the Costa Short Story Award.
Sarah lives in between London and Oxford with her family.
Say hi to Sarah on Twitter: https://twitter.com/SarahEFranklin
Shelter was released by Bonnier Zaffre on 31st May 2018. It’s available to buy now in most UK book shops. Click to view at https://www.amazon.co.uk/Shelter
Novel Kicks is a blog for story tellers and book lovers.