A Daughter’s War by Emma Hornby: A tale that brims with emotion, romance and the harsh realities of life – book review -

After three years of abusive treatment from her brutal father, a young woman uses the outbreak of war in 1939 as her chance to grab freedom in a moving and gripping saga from Bolton author Emma Hornby.
A Daughter’s War by Emma HornbyA Daughter’s War by Emma Hornby
A Daughter’s War by Emma Hornby

Hornby, who once worked in a Blackpool rock factory and was inspired to write after researching her own family history, bases her stories on the many generations of her family who eked out life amidst the squalor and poverty of Lancashire’s slums.

And this history is reflected in her emotionally-charged stories which include the powerful and absorbing novel, A Shilling for a Wife, set in mid-19thcentury Bolton, and Her Wartime Secret, featuring a family torn apart by war and held together by a secret.

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In this new saga, Hornby sweeps us off to Bolton again where 17-year-old Renee Rushmore lives at home with her father Ivan... a cruel man who rules the house with an iron fist and keeps Renee isolated and alone. She is desperate to escape him, but with no friends to help her, what hope does she have?

But then war breaks out and with factories and farms looking to take on female workers, Renee dares to hope that freedom might be within her grasp. And when she hears through a kindly local farmhand named Jimmy Wallace that Oak Valley Farm is in need of live-in help, she might just have found her chance.

But her father’s eyes are on her day and night. With the help of Jimmy, and the strength found in her new circle of loyal friends, will Renee be able to escape Ivan’s cruelty and find happiness at last?

Hornby is on fine storytelling form in this powerful and hard-hitting story which is not afraid to explore some of the hidden, haunting and disturbing corners of family life as Renee tries desperately to escape the clutches of her evil father.

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It’s a tale that brims with emotion, romance and the harsh realities of life in a working class Lancashire town during wartime as readers follow Renee on a turbulent journey through suffering and hardship, but also the joys of new-found friendships and the comfort and warmth of a loving relationship.

Authentic, compelling, featuring characters to both love and hate, and with some unexpected twists and turns, A Daughter’s War is another winner for a northern author who has her home county written right across her heart.

(Penguin, paperback, £7.99)