Dunne, Mar 2003, 24.95, 336 pp.
In 1939, much of Europe prepares for the “little war” while politicians on both sides claim it will be over before the year is out. All over England, civilian residents rehearse how to behave in the case of invasion or air assaults. In the fishing village of Bexham facing France, the locals understand that a Nazi invasion could come through here or some of the nearby other Sussex ports and most males join the military. Even vets from the “Great War” sign on to serve in the Senior Corps.
Their wives, mothers, and daughters adapt to a world where France quickly falls as the Bexham villagers, mostly female relatives of the soldiers, are determined to help defeat Hitler. The younger generation whose lovers will die on the continent or become MIA defend their country joined by their mothers in ways no one could have fathomed in 1939. In this little village, nothing but the sacred Chestnut Tree will ever be the same even when their men come home victorious and expect the pre war status quo to return.
THE CHESTNUT TREE is an intriguing character study cozy exploring the metamorphosis of English women during World War II. These courageous females become the mothers and older sisters of the 1960s women's movement. Readers will cherish these feisty characters who do what they must to help their country win except revert back to their subservient prewar role once victory occurs.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner