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READING: 15 AUGUST 2016

Finding the safest place in London when the air-raid siren sounds

Two frightened children, two very different mothers, and one night of terrifying Blitz bombing during World War Two. And when the bombs stop falling, which families’ lives will be changed forever?

On a frozen January evening in 1944, Nancy Levin and her three-year-old daughter Emily flee their impoverished East London home as an air-raid siren sounds. Not far away, 39-year-old Diana Meadows and her own child, three-year-old Abigail, are lost in the black-out as the air raid begins.

Finding their way in the jostling crowd to the mouth of the shelter they hurry to the safety of the underground tube station. Mrs Meadows, who has so far sat out the war in the safety of London’s outer suburbs, is terrified — as much by the prospect of sheltering in an East End tube station as of experiencing a bombing raid first hand.

Far away Diana’s husband Gerald Meadows finds himself in a tank regiment in North Africa while Nancy’s husband Joe Levin has narrowly survived a torpedo in the Atlantic and is about to rejoin his ship. Both men have their own wars to fight but take comfort in the knowledge that their wives and children, at least, remain safe.

But in wartime, ordinary people can find themselves taking extreme action — risking everything to secure their own and their family’s survival, even at the expense of others.

*Based on information supplied by Allen & Unwin (https://www.allenandunwin.com).

DETAILS

Maggie Joel, The Safest Place in London

Allen & Unwin | 352pp paperback $29.99