As a former evacuee, feisty Ruby is forced to fend for herself when she returns to her family in London. Set in the aftermath of WW2 and based in Southend, this gripping saga is richly evocative of the period.
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Home is where the heart is…
After having lived peacefully in Cambridgeshire as an evacuee, 15-year-old Ruby Blakeley is bought back to reality when her bully of a brother Ray comes to take her home to East London.
Far from being welcomed back with open arms, Ruby finds herself being treated as a skivvy by her widowed mother and subject to a tirade of taunts from her two brothers.
Things get worse when she becomes pregnant. Unable to tackle her family, Ruby runs away and makes a new start for herself in Southend. But she soon finds she can’t escape her past.
A hard-hitting, gritty drama that will appeal to fans of Katie Flynn and Dilly Court.
Ruby is the first novel from Marie Maxwell, and was published by Avon books earlier this year.
Marie Maxwell is better known as Bernardine Kennedy, author of seven contemporary novels. I can remember clearly reading her first novel Everything Is Not Enough, in Cyprus, in 2001. I was hooked and have read each of her books as they were released. It's been a while, but she's back - with a new genre, a new publisher and a new name.
Ruby is the first of four books and is set in the 1950s and 60s and although not quite as 'edgy' as her previous stories, it really is a compelling read.
Ruby is 15 years old and has been living in the peaceful town of Melton for five years. An evacuee, she was sent to live with Dr George Wheaton and his wife Babs who have treated her as their own daughter. When Ray, Ruby's older brother arrives unexpectedly and demands that she returns home to London, Ruby is devastated. She knows that with her Father now dead, and bully Ray as the head of the household, she will be expected to cook, clean and look after her elderly Grandmother. Her dreams of continuing her educations and becoming a nurse are dashed.
Once back in London, Ruby's fears are realised. Ray appears to be more evil and hateful than ever and her Mother shows her no affection. She does find affection from bad-boy Johnnie Riordan - Ray's arch-enemy, older and quite intriguing to her.
When Ruby realises that she is pregnant, she knows that she has to leave London and flees back to her beloved Melton.
Ruby grows and matures and deals with heartbreak and tragedy along the way.
Ruby is a feisty character, she sometimes makes the wrong decision, she can be headstrong and stubborn, but her story is a great read. With a cast of characters that are so well drawn this is a gritty tale of family and relationships. Tackling some hard-hitting social issues including unmarried mothers, mental illness and black market dealings incorporated with charismatic characters, this is a really satisfying read. A great start to the series - I'm really looking forward to reading about Gracie next.