The Runaway Children: Gripping and heartbreaking historical fiction

The Runaway Children: Gripping and heartbreaking historical fiction

by Sandy Taylor


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The Runaway Children: Gripping and heartbreaking historical fiction 4.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 9 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed this book very much. I look forward to reading more from this author. I will not write you a book report like so many do but if you have enjoyed other historical fiction set during WWII then you will enjoy this story.
gaele More than 1 year ago
Starting in London’s East End in the Bermonsea district, we meet Nell, Tony and Olive as they wait for their mother to give birth to a new sibling. It’s 1942 and bombs are ravaging the city and countryside, and as of this moment, the children have avoided being part of Operation Pied Piper – the evacuation of London’s children to the countryside to live in a more secure area with plans to return home after the war. With a father away fighting and air raids and poverty ever-present, it is decided that the three children shall evacuate and their mother will stay back with the newest addition to the family. Promises made to reunite as soon as feasible, Nell, Olive and Tony head off to places unknown until Tony, unwilling to leave the city or his mother, jumps off the train as it leaves the station. Seemingly endless hours later, Nell and Olive arrive in a completely new and totally foreign environment: Wales. With unfamiliar language in the air, trees, green and sheep unlike the ‘fluffy white balls of wool that they know from storybooks, the girls are unsettled. Taken in by the Methodist vicar and his wife – the girls are treated to al’ sorts of new experiences: a large bed, plenty of food, no air-raid sirens, and above all, kindness. They are thriving and growing strong – but Nell’s worry for her mother and brothers won’t lessen. Just as they are both settled in and after a wonderful Christmas unlike any other, the Vicar has been relocated to Cardiff where the church feel his services are needed – the frequent bombings of the docks and city mean the girls can’t go along – and the rehousing official finds them a place on a farm some 20 miles from the little town they have come to love and view as home. Far from an ideal situation, when Nell’s protection of Olive leads to a confrontation, the girls run away for London – expecting to be joined by their new friend at the farm, Jimmy. When Jimmy doesn’t appear – the long walk to London is full of peril as Nell, determined to keep young Olive (now 7) safe , has her moving forward to the point of exhaustion. With help (and care) from an elderly widower, the girls are sheltered and cared for until a train ride back to London leads them home again. Of course, the ensuing year has ravaged London even further, and the East End and docks are heaviest hit. While no one knows of her mother, brothers or father – there are neighbors who take the girls in, and plan to relocate to the coast, leaving word for her mother with a neighbor who is determined to stay settled in Bermonsea. Throughout the story, Nell’s own determination keeps her and Olive safe, yet their final landing point at a guesthouse becomes the place where both can shine and grow. Each new place of acceptance allows Nell and Olive to grow and find friends, opportunities and new ways of looking at the world. As Nell realizes that her East End upbringing didn’t let her see the possible options for her life, she’s grown and learned about love, life, family and the possibility of hope even in the darkest times. Perfectly charming – the story has moments of tension, humor (Olive is a total hoot), tears and joy as the seemingly impossible in the midst of war, loss and trial, become possible as Nell’s voice, determination and hope carry her journey forward for herself and Olive. A lovely book from Taylor and a perfect introduction to her writing. I received an eArc copy of the title from the publisher via NetGalley for purpose o
Anonymous 4 months ago
Didn' t want it to end
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Excellent!Heart warming and captivating!
357800 More than 1 year ago
4 Stars War -1942 - Sirens and bombs make for volatile times in London, and the Patterson children have just been evacuated by train to the country. Scared and distressed over being forced to leave home to live with strangers, 13 year old Nell steps up and takes charge of 5 year old Olive knowing she must protect and keep her safe at all costs. The girls experience numerous unexpected kindnesses, but all is not easy as they encounter scary, dangerous types as well. A funny little Olive (and Auntie Missus) steal the show with a story of innocence, bravery and a "wise beyond years" vocabulary as she tells it like it the most inopportune times. THE RUNAWAY CHILDREN combines historical fiction with a coming of age story that is entertaining and filled with love of family, hope, and friendships.
lauriesophee More than 1 year ago
The time is 1942, in London and all around are air-raid sirens and bombs blasting, causing destruction of lives and homes as the war is in full scale. Nell is a young girl whose father is off in the war and her Mom worries for the safety of Nell, her sister, Olive. Food is scarce. She sends them to a safer area in England with the promise of "Hope ,Safety,and one day all being reunited". Nell and Olive set off on the train to a safer location. The girls find a wonderful family who love and care for them., but for how long? This is a heart-felt novel that made me cry, hold my breath as the girls struggle to survive, and find their sense of belonging in war time where there is only pain and hurt. "Sometimes it's the kindness of strangers that surprises you most" is the theme for this beautifully written book. This is a novel of hope and faith. Beautiful!
Suze-Lavender More than 1 year ago
It's 1942 and life in Bermondsey in London is becoming more and more dangerous. That is why thirteen-year-old Nell and her five-year-old sister Olive are being evacuated. They end up in Wales. Living in the countryside is a new experience, something they have to get used to. Being taken in by kind people isn't a given, will Nell and Olive be lucky enough to find loving people to look after them while they are far away from their family? Initially things seem to be going well for Olive and Nell, but something changes and this makes their lives a lot more unstable. Nell tries to protect Olive as well as she can, but it isn't easy to keep her little sister safe. When something bad is about to happen to Olive it's up to Nell to save her sister. However, her decision will have huge consequences and it's the beginning of a long and dangerous journey. Will they survive the difficult road ahead? The Runaway Children is a beautiful emotional story about war, family, friendship and love. I immediately liked Nell. She's strong, kindhearted and caring. She has to look out for her little sister and Olive is quite something. She's wise for her age, she's incredibly beautiful and she says the strangest things. Reading about her often made me smile and it brought some wonderful lightness to a story set in heavy times. I liked that combination of hard and soft and brightness and dark very much. Sandy Taylor skillfully alternates between hope and sadness, which is something that suits the time frame incredibly well. What I liked the most about The Runaway Children is the close bond between Nell and Olive. It's indestructible, they're always there for each other and it's clear they love each other very much and would do anything for one another. I'm a big fan of stories about sisters and this is definitely a good one. I was impressed by the warmth of their relationship and the easy way they talk to each other. The age gap makes their bond even more interesting and the dialogue is fantastic. Sandy Taylor has written a brilliant gripping story. I was captivated by Nell and Olive from the start. I couldn't turn the pages quickly enough to find out if they'd survive the war and read The Runaway Children in one sitting. The people Nell and Olive meet on their journey are intriguing and some of them immediately found a way to my heart. The Runaway Children is filled with unexpected twists and turns and has a gorgeous ending that moved me to tears. I love it when I feel so much when I'm reading a story. I highly recommend this absolute gem of a story.
TUDORQUEEN More than 1 year ago
This is a very fine book about a family living in an East End London tenement building during the Second World War. As the book begins, the eldest daughter Nell is outside on the cold stoop attending to her precocious five year old sister Olive and middle brother Tony. She is trying to occupy them while their mother is upstairs giving birth. Their father is serving in the War and is missing. For the modest living conditions and the bleak situation, there are loving and supportive neighbors in the building that always pitch in when needed. This element lends such a heartwarming cast to the story and is a continuing theme throughout the book in different locales. Because of the bombing raids that were concentrated in the City of London, children were being transported to the country to safe houses. This is what happened with teenage Nell and her little sister Olive. Following the birth of their Mom's baby, arrangements were made to send Nell, Olive and Tony to a country location. Tony leapt off the train at the last minute, deciding to remain with his mother and the baby in the East End. This left Nell in charge of Olive as they journeyed to an uncertain future. At first, Nell and Olive are placed in what is a fairytale situation in a charming picture perfect village in Wales. They are chosen by the young parish vicar and his wife to stay with them in a home that looked as if it belonged on a Christmas card. Quite quickly the anguish of separation from their family is dimmed by the warm beds, good food, loving "Auntie and Uncle" and new friends that they make in this quaint village. However, all good things come to an end and the sisters' idyllic living situation is again disrupted. The book covers a four-year period where Nell and Olive face the challenge of various living situations while separated from their parents. Their journey is richly and beautifully written. From the kindness and charity of people they meet on the run, to the frightening and unpleasant characters they encounter, this is a high standard of writing that I hope to experience even more from author Sandy Taylor. Well done! Many thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for providing this advance reader copy in return for my honest review.