#BlogTour #BookReview - The Waiting Hours by Ellie Dean

Slapton Sands, 1943

War has not been kind to Carol Porter. It took her husband and baby, and with them her heart. At last she’s found some peace, working as a land girl at Coombe Farm. But Carol’s sanctuary, the whole local area in fact, is about to be disrupted.

When Pauline Reilly hears Carol’s news she’s worried for her little sister. But as rumours about Slapton Sands reach Cliffehaven, Pauline can’t help be more concerned for her only surviving son. And despite her sister-in-law Peggy’s best efforts, nothing soothes Pauline’s fears.

As Carol prepares to face the impending upheaval alone her beloved mother, Dolly, swoops in to Slapton, and packing up Carol’s life presents unexpected opportunities for them both: Carol looks to her future while Dolly confronts a ghost from her past, and they both have a chance to mend their broken hearts.

The THIRTEENTH fabulous, heart-warming Second World War novel in Ellie Dean's bestselling Cliffehaven series (previously called the Beach View Boarding House series).

I'm delighted to be hosting the blog tour for The Waiting Hours today, many thanks to the publishers and Becky McCarthy for inviting me to take part. This is Ellie Dean's thirteenth Cliffehaven novel but the first I have read. There are references to events that occurred in the previous books, and mention of other characters who don't play a major role in this instalment but I didn't find it hindered my enjoyment in any way and found the book worked as a standalone - although obviously it would make sense to read the series in order to really appreciate Ellie Dean's long story arc.
This novel had everything I love about historical sagas; the time period is one of my favourites, I'm often drawn to novels set during the Second World War, particularly those that feature the Home Front.  I love that Ellie Dean writes about the strength of women and how the war affected them, not just as mothers, wives and girlfriends hoping their men would come home but also how they coped with the changes to their daily life under a constant cloud of uncertainty about the war.
The Waiting Hours is a character driven novel, this is a warm and engaging book filled with ordinary people who were forced to live under extraordinary circumstances but somehow kept going day to day, year after year. Carol Porter, the main protagonist is a case in point. A young widow who lost her unborn child after her husband's death, she now works as a land girl, determined to keep going despite her losses. She has found some solace from her grief through the home she shared with her husband and from her visits to the village cemetery but her quiet life is thrown into disarray when she learns the area she lives in is to be requisitioned urgently for military purposes, all villagers forced to move elsewhere. Carol is an immensely likeable, relatable character, she's sensible, level-headed and kindhearted.  In Cliffehaven, her sister, Pauline is also grief stricken, having lost two of her sons to the war she has become over-protective of her surviving boy, and has become withdrawn from her husband, Frank. Their mother, Dolly is a more glamorous figure who left her parents to raise her daughters, despite this they adore her and as the book progresses it transpires she is far more than the rather flighty and shallow character she may initially appear to be. Meanwhile, Peggy, stalwart owner of the Beach View boarding house in Cliffehaven is an ever loving, perceptive and nurturing presence - this is perhaps where I missed out not having read the previous books as it's clear that she has been an important constant offering sanctuary, wisdom and no-nonsense home truths throughout the series. I would have liked to know her history and look forward to a retrospective catching up. As the book progressed I became immersed in the lives of these characters, and their friends and relations; I held my breath as Peggy's husband, Jim faced danger fighting in Burma, I laughed at his father, Ron's poaching escapades; I crossed my fingers for Carol's best friend, Betty, I enjoyed the bickering, love and support at the boarding house. There's a secret at the heart of The Waiting Hours, I'd worked it out before the reveal but it didn't matter, it was the characters' lives I'd become invested in, how would discovering long concealed truths threaten the ties that bind people together?
As well as the trials and tribulations of the characters, Ellie Dean has included real life events in the book as tragedy comes to Slapton. In 1943 Operation Tiger was to be a rehearsal for what would become the D-Day Landings, however, it was to become a terrible tragedy, resulting in the deaths of many hundreds of American soldiers. Seen through the eyes of characters we've grown to know and to care for gives a human face to the catastrophe as we experience it through them. The awful shock and anger is palpable, knowing with the benefit of hindsight that there were orders to cover up the tragedy makes it even more heartrending.
I really enjoyed The Waiting Hours; with its touching, poignant and warm storytelling, I'm not surprised this series has so many fans, this book will undoubtedly please both those who already love Ellie Dean's books and newcomers to Cliffehaven.

The Waiting Hours is published by Arrow. Ellie Dean's website is here.
 Don't miss the rest of the blog tour, dates are below.

About the Author

Ellie Dean lives in a tiny hamlet set deep in the heart of the South Downs in Sussex which offers the tranquillity so necessary for an author.   Ellie finally married her childhood sweetheart eight years ago, and together they share two daughters, three sons and six grandchildren, who are scattered all over the world.