It seems odd, now, that I wrote my trilogy, A Relative Invasion, during years when we were so free: free to go where we wanted, free to say what we wanted, buy what we wanted, free to arrange our daily routine as we liked, with children or with children cared for by teachers and playschemes. Not being able to come and go is particularly hard for the teenagers, but a luxury, now, like being able to breathe, that we all took for granted.
I wrote about two young boys, cousins, whose freedom to live at home had been ripped away. In the first book, Intrusion, war threatened and they developed a rivalry. The London blitz meant they had to be evacuated to the country where the second book, Infiltration, is set.
However traumatic, they were still able to go to school and play outside. One of my grandchildren said the hardest thing for him was not seeing his friends. “It’s been a whole week!” I hadn’t the heart to warn him it would likely be a month or even longer. At least he has siblings, a garden and a trampoline.
Wartime children had no play equipment like that and it was long before Health and Safety initiatives, so they climbed on building structures, bomb sites and slid down hillsides on whatever flat object they could find, sharp edges or not.
Cuts and bruises were not the danger they feared but what planes overhead might drop on them, or what family members they might lose. And there’s the similarity: in WW2 everyone knew someone, most with someone close, that had lost their life in the conflict. And it’s getting that way for us now.
In A Relative Invasion I tried to show both the best and poor responses to the war effort. I’m afraid Billy’s mother gave the latter, but his foster parents the former. Meanwhile his rival, cousin Kenneth, capitalised on their situation by invading Billy’s personal space even further.
Billy turned to his icon for imaginary power to resist: a Cossack sabre he’d secretly seen. That sabre had a wartime story of its own, in WW1, as Billy discovers during a library visit to the nearby manor.
Book 3, Impact, begins as war ends. Now in adolescence, the boys’ rivalry intensifies. It’s doubtless worsened by the severe shortages in post-war austerity London. We’ve had just a tiny taste of this, but it IS tiny by comparison.
How lovely to read this really warm review for my trilogy on the red-headed reader’s website, here:
The reviewer has been transported to those times, she says. It’s the right time, now, to be transported to other places and times through books. I hope A Relative Invasion might do this for you.
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