Letters From the Lighthouse: spies, sea and secrets
“February, 1941. After months of bombing raids in London, twelve-year-old Olive Bradshaw and her little brother Cliff are evacuated to the Devon coast. The only person with two spare beds is Mr Ephraim, the local lighthouse keeper. But he’s not used to company and he certainly doesn’t want any evacuees. Desperate to be helpful, Olive becomes his post-girl, carrying secret messages (as she likes to think of the letters) to the villagers. But Olive has a secret of her own. Her older sister Sukie went missing in an air raid, and she’s desperate to discover what happened to her. And then she finds a strange coded note which seems to link Sukie to Devon, and to something dark and impossibly dangerous.”
Letters from the Lighthouse tells the story of a brother and sister pairing who are evacuated due to the war and the impact war has on so many lives. War is punishing and hard on life. Olive and Clive lose their sister one day during a bombing on the city. They eventually are told it is too dangerous to live in their city and are sent away. Olive and Cliff are taken from their homes to a little village by the sea – initially living in the post office, but when trouble comes a-knocking they end up living with the lighthouse keeper and his dog. They find it hard to fit in, especially when there is another young girl evacuated to the same little village who insists on making Olive miserable. This young girl however has such an incredible back story that eventually, you see she’s also struggling. As you go through the story there are revelations made and incredible new characters appear.
This book shows the overwhelming impact that war has on everything – from massive cities, to tiny villages by the sea. The lighthouse is both useful and a problem. It is guiding German planes along the shore but it is saving the lives of so many people who are taking refuge in Britain away from the warring countries and clutches of Hitler and his armies.
The special thing about this book is it shows the absolute light of the human spirit. There are so many atrocities going on in the world at the time of the story, yet there is compassion, love and acceptance shown aplenty from all sides in this book. There’s no moment where the characters give up on each other. They fight for what is right and they know deep down that, they may be doing “the wrong thing” but it is the right thing to do. People will always be helpful in times of need.
There’s the lovely surprise of where Suki has gone too. But I won’t spoil that.
I loved this book. I am partial to a book centred around the war. I didn’t expect to fall for this story as much as I did. I loved it so much that I bought a copy for the school library and for our Y6 teacher – it is such a perfect story to use in Year 6, or alongside studying World War 2 in KS2. Please, go out, buy this. Put it in your school library, put it in someone’s hands who loves brilliantly woven characters and stories, put it in the hands of someone who needs a good bit of escapism, put it in the hands of a child who loves history. Just get a copy in your school. You won’t regret it.
Have you read Letters from the Lighthouse?
Can you recommend any other war stories?
Let me know in the comments!