Under the Apple Tree by Lilian Harry

About the book

Life is anxious for the Taylor family, as it is for everyone in Portsmouth during the early days of 1941. The worst happens on January 10th, when the Luftwaffe unleashes its full fury on the city in the first of three major blitzes. The Taylors are bombed out, Judy finds her local government job relocated from the gutted Guildhall to a hotel in Southsea, and home is now a small terraced house in April Grove, with one less bedroom and no bathroom or inside lavatory. To add to their troubles, Judy’s sailor fiancĂ© is killed. Judy is befriended by the Lady Mayoress who invites her to join her team of WVS workers. Her young, recently widowed aunt Polly, determined to turn her own grief to good account, decides to become a volunteer and together they work on the various projects of the WVS – running canteens, accompanying evacuee children to their destinations, helping the families of servicemen, feeding and clothing the homeless, organising scrap collections and so on – often in the face of danger from air raids, flying bombs and V2 rockets. Gradually, Judy and Polly find their own grief healing as they take part not only in their war work but in the life of April Grove, and although both are at first convinced they will never know love again, they each find it in the least likely manner.

Reviewed by Shipton Bellinger WI Reading Group:

Does tend to stray into ‘Mills and Boon’ territory, but it is well worth reading for the insights it gives into wartime life. More discussion was generated by the book than most others we have read. Do read it for that, particularly if you live in Hampshire.

Star rating: **

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2 thoughts on “Under the Apple Tree by Lilian Harry”

  1. Review by Havers Reading Group:
    Well liked by some, others found it tedious. Too verbose but accepting it gave an insight into WW2. Little to discuss – just a few incidents. Made for a less than normal discussion.
    Star rating: ***

  2. Review by U3A 6 Reading Group:
    We all read it to the end and were interested in the information about Portsmouth during the Blitz, but did not find it very satisfying as a novel; too much dialogue, not enough plot and almost too much detail.
    Star rating: **

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