1941 Joy Cooper joins the Civil Defence during WW2, charting the bombs falling on London but gradually her world is eroded as she receives reports of familiar targets… 1974 Joy is required to leave her home but does she have the strength to start yet again…?
The Woman With The Map is a dual timeline novel set in the 1940s and 1970s in London.
Joy starts the war with optimism and a world of security and love from her family. This gradually erodes as the nightly Blitz destroys her home town and the people she loves most. The physical and emotional devastation is not shied away from and makes this an intense book to read. I think a great deal of research went into this book and the scenes described feel authentic.
The sadness and sense of loss is relentless in both timelines. Joy has lost so much over the course of the book. The destruction and devastation is surely more than anyone can bear. Yet Joy finds an inner strength to eke out an existence but avoids making new personal connections. This is a form of self preservation as the hurt and pain of the past is overwhelming.
The dual timeline works really well and I felt that both historical periods were realistically portrayed from the food to the clothes and beyond. The final chapter ends on a note of hope but this doesn’t eradicate the grief of the rest of the book in both timelines.
The Woman With The Map is a book full of Blitz spirit but the sadness is almost overwhelming.
The Woman With The Map
The world is at war and Joyce Cooper is doing her bit for the war effort. A proud member of the Civil Defence, it is her job to assist the people of Notting Hill when the bombs begin to fall. But as the Blitz takes hold of London, Joyce is called upon to plot the devastation that follows in its wake. Night after night she must stand before her map and mark the trail of loss and suffering inflicted upon the homes, families and businesses she knows so well.
Decades later from her basement flat Joyce watches the world go by above her head. This is her haven; the home she has created for herself having had so much taken from her in the war. But now the council is tearing down her block of flats and she’s being forced to move. Could this chance to start over allow Joyce to let go of the past and step back into her life?
An emotional and compelling historical fiction novel perfect for fans of Fiona Valpy, Mandy Robotham and Catherine Hokin.
Jan Casey’s novels, like her first – The Women of Waterloo Bridge – explore the themes of how ordinary people are affected by extraordinary events during any period in history, including the present. She is fascinated with the courage, adaptability and resilience that people rise to in times of adversity and for which they do not expect pay, praise or commendation. Jan is also interested in writing about the similarities as opposed to the differences amongst people and the ways in which experiences and emotions bind humans together.
Jan was born in London but spent her childhood in Southern California. She was a teacher of English and Drama for many years and is now a Learning Supervisor at a college of further education.
When she is not working or writing, Jan enjoys yoga, swimming, cooking, walking, reading and spending time with her grandchildren.
Before becoming a published author, Jan had short stories and flash fictions published.