1942, Suffolk. Irene is desperate to earn enough money to leave her small village and is determined that she will not marry local farmer Norman. She falls in love with a black American GI but the pair face opposition from everyone. 2022, Ruby returns to Suffolk to sort through her late grandmother Irene’s house and discovers a set of diaries from the war years.
The Locket is a dual timeline book set during WW2 and the present day.
I was instantly swept up in the lives of Irene and Ruby. It is immediately clear that Irene didn’t get her happy ending with Theo as she ended up married to Norman who is Ruby’s grandfather. Ruby’s journey of discovery is therefore ours as well as we wait to find out what happened to the love story of Irene and Theo.
Ruby has her own emotional issues and healing to do as she has split from her boyfriend and also lost her job. She has huge guilt that she wasn’t able to see her grandmother at the end of her life due to covid and I liked this modern reference.
I had mixed feelings about Norman’s sister Philippa in both the past and present: in some ways I was so sad for her as she is always unwanted and seen as a burden. However, her behaviour is spoilt and selfish with a mean streak.
The racism that Theo faces is awful. The author does not use the worst derogatory words but they are implied. It seems incredible that segregation still existed yet it was fine for ethnic minorities to risk their lives for the war effort. Theo endures hardship from every angle and it is relentless. I think the author has researched the era well and addresses the stigma that used to be associated with mixed race relationships.
The Locket is a warm and emotional historical novel.
England, 1942. ‘It has to stay secret,’ he whispers, placing the locket around her neck. ‘If they find it, they’ll send me away.’ As she holds the locket, glinting in the moonlight, she can’t hold back the tears. ‘I just wish we didn’t have to hide…’
When farmer’s daughter Irene meets Theodore at a village dance, sparks fly instantly. The war has brought him all the way from Louisiana to build a US airbase just across her father’s fields, but as they sway together, there is nothing else in the world. Only his gentle touch and his deep brown eyes.
But being together comes at a price. As Theodore is Black, the might of the US Air Force is against them, and all the members of the little village community disapprove of their relationship. And they will all go to terrible lengths to tear the two young lovers apart…
Decades later, heartbroken Ruby is back at her family’s crumbling farmhouse for the first time in years, after the loss of her beloved grandmother Irene. The roof has fallen in, family photographs are damaged – and her grandmother’s jewellery is nowhere to be found.
When Ruby uncovers her grandmother’s waterlogged diaries, she discovers that Irene treasured one piece of lost jewellery above all. A locket from a man called Theodore. And the missing locket holds the key to unravelling a heartbreaking secret that changed her grandmother’s life…
Is someone in the village hiding the locket to keep the truth about Irene and Theodore buried? And can Ruby find a way to honour her grandmother’s memory –or in digging up the pain of the war, will she tear her family apart?
An absolutely breathtaking World War Two story about the power of love in the face of adversity, and how the tragic consequences of war can echo through generations. Fans of Fiona Valpy, The Nightingale and All the Light We Cannot See will be addicted to this incredible read.
Natalie is a RITA nominated, USA Today Bestselling author of six novels: The Dress Thief, The Milliner’s Secret (re-titled “The Girl who Dreamed of Paris”), The Wardrobe Mistress, Summer in the Vineyards, The Secret Vow and The Paris Girl that feature sisters, Katya and Tatiana. Since then, Natalie has released Into the Burning Dawn and The Italian Girl’s Secret, books set in the lucious Bay of Naples during the second world war. Now, the latest novel is available and it is called The Girl with the Yellow Star. The story takes place in Cornwall on the glorious north coast, and is a heart-wrenching story of loss, love and challenging choices.