No Time for Tears
Pegasus Elliot Mackenzie Publishers, 2004 - 236 pages
Ellen Ramsden is a young woman growing up in humble circumstances in the Medway Towns in Kent, an historic area of military and naval importance on the river Medway thirty miles from London and an equally short distance across the English Channel to France. Ellen's father, a seaman has been lost at sea, since when Ellen has been the main provider for her mother and her brother Ben. Ellen is happily employed in a large drapers shop until she makes the mistake of antagonising an important customer, which results in her losing her job. She is fortunate, however, in finding work in a local grocery store and is contented with her lot until she meets and falls in love with a young man William Nugent who is of a better social class and related to the customer whom Ellen has earlier offended. It is soon clear that William's family will not tolerate their relationship. However, such problems have to be put aside with the outbreak of World War One and Great Britain goes to war with Germany. William and Ellen's brother Ben both volunteer and are soon involved in the fighting in France and Flanders. Both men are stationed in Ypres in Belgium and involved in the bloody conflict of trench warfare. There are two other young men in Ellen's life, Matthew Adams whom Ellen knew in the grocery store and Charlie Duncan, a neighbour from her childhood days. Matthew is also fighting at the front and Charlie Duncan is a seaman, who reminds Ellen of her father. At home with her mother Lucy enduring the constant anxiety of the conflict, the food and fuel shortages and the danger of Zeppelin raids Ellen finds herself doubting the reality of her romance with William. The story moves away from England to the Flanders' fields depicting the suffering of the young men at the front and the tragedy that engulfs them. Meanwhile Ellen anticipating rejection from William finds herself a victim of her own folly and involved in a scandal. It is only as the war draws to a close and the world moves away from war that Ellen dares to hope for happiness in her own life.
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