Set during the early years of the Second World War, and, for the most part, between London and Malta, this is a tender love story of two people brought closer together whilst being forced apart by war. This is one where you really want to root for the characters as they take on their daily battles in the face of the brutality of war, which, very often, is sudden and shocking.
She stood from the piano. 'We will go down into the basement. Children first please, calmly and quietly, holding hands in twos as we practised.'
She issued candles, one to each pair of children, as they went down the basement stair. Poppy went with George, Maud with Kenneth, Zachary with Betty, then Beryl on her own since she would not let anyone touch her, and finally Thomas in his father's arms, wheelchair parked in the corridor.
Mary had Tom see everyone down the stairs while she went to the boiler room and shut off the electricity, the gas and the water. Back in the classroom she checked that no one remained. She tucked the Christ doll under her arm, closed the piano lid and walked down into the basement.
There was a confusion of places and a nervous laughter among the adults. The children squabbled for seats on the two long gymnasium benches that Mary had set up when she cleared the basement.