The Chalky Sea
Clare Flynn, author
Two troubled people struggle to find their way in a turbulent world. In July 1940, Gwen Collingwood drops her husband at the railway station, knowing she may never see him again. Two days later her humdrum world is torn apart when the sleepy English seaside town where she lives is subjected to the first of many heavy bombing attacks. In Ontario, Canada, Jim Armstrong is debating whether to volunteer. His decision becomes clear when he uncovers the secret his fiancée has been keeping from him. A few weeks later he is on a ship bound for England. Gwen is forced to confront the truth she has concealed about her past and her own feelings. Jim battles with a bewildering and hostile world far removed from the cosy life of his Canadian farm. War brings horror and loss to each of them – can it also bring change and salvation?
Flynn’s memorable historical novel takes readers back to early World War II, from the farmlands of Canada to a seaside town in England, as two damaged souls are changed forever by a chance meeting. Canadian farmer Jim Armstrong joins the army after his fiancée jilts him for his brother, Walt. In the English town of Eastbourne, Gwen Collingwood’s privileged life changes when her husband, Roger, goes off to war and her housekeeper leaves. Gwen, a member of the Women’s Royal Voluntary Service who translates German radio communications, also takes in boarders and discovers that her uptight notions of propriety have no place in wartime. Gwen’s purpose-filled life translating the communications is disrupted when she loses her position to Jim, who is also billeted at her home. She and Jim become closer even as they know their wartime romance is fleeting, and they both discover a love that helps heal wounds of the past. Flynn’s novel is a vivid page-turner that depicts the destruction of war, but it is most notable for its portrayal of the effects it has on individual lives. (BookLife)