Regular readers will know that I am always keen to find books with a link to the Island. Very few writers have written about the Island in a series of books, the great exception is bestselling author Carol Rivers who has written a number of books which generally feature characters on the Island.
Carol’s gritty and heart-warming East End family dramas are greatly influenced by her grandparents who lived in Gavrick Street and then Chapel House Street on the Island. The books are widely praised for their realism and appear regularly in many bestseller charts and Carol has a loyal readership in the UK and increasingly in the United States.
I was delighted to receive a copy of Carol’s latest book, Molly’s Christmas Orphans which is focused on the Island during the bombing of the Second World War and tells of the trials that Molly endures throughout the war years.
The story begins with war-torn Isle of Dogs struggling to deal with the constant bombing. Molly and her father own Swift’s General Store on Roper Street, the store is Molly’s domain, where her and her father both live and work supplying groceries to local people. Molly, who has already suffered the tragedy of losing her husband at Dunkirk and daughter to illness, bravely carries on helping and supporting local people on the Isle of Dogs, through the shop and her friendship with people both on her street and the surrounding area.
When a bomb falls in the street outside Swifts General Store, Molly finds herself covered in rubble and not knowing what had happened. Not suffering any injuries, Molly waits in a cold hospital corridor for her father who had his leg broken during the bombing.
A sudden bombing raid forces Molly to take shelter in the hospital basement where she meets good time girl Cissy Brown and merchant seaman Andy Miller and his two young children Evie and Mark and an unlikely friendship begins.
Having been told by the nurse that her father needed to stay in hospital, Molly prepares to return home. During the wait, Molly’s conversations with Cissy and Andy had revealed that both were homeless and had nowhere to go. Molly’s good hearted response was to immediately offer a roof in Roper Street until they could find alternative means.
Molly’s adventures with both Cissy, Evie and Mark are revealed throughout the book, Molly learns to deal with the shadier side of life, and becomes mother to Evie and Mark and as her relationship with Andy deepens, would tragedy strike again, what lies in wait for Molly during the next few years and will she have a happy ending?
Molly’s Christmas Orphans is a wonderful tale of East End life during the war years, Molly is the central character and follows her struggles to survive and finds her protective and supportive nature are tested to the limit.
Carol lives in Dorset but still follows closely events on the Island and is a long time supporter of Isle of Dogs Life. If you would like to find out more about the book or other books written by Carol Rivers. Please visit her website here