With Hope and Love by Ellie Dean #BookReview #BlogTour

Cliffehaven, 1945
The war in Europe is over, but for Peggy Reilly and the residents of Beach View Boarding House the effects of the conflict are still far-reaching.
Cockney evacuee, Ivy, and her sweetheart, Andy, are saving to get married and fulfil their dream of returning to the East End. But when tragedy strikes, Ivy is faced with a life-changing dilemma that only she can resolve.
Rita also faces an impossible choice when her sweetheart Peter proposes and asks her to live with him in Australia – just as her widowed father returns from the fighting in Europe.
Meanwhile Peggy must say goodbye to several of her evacuee chicks whilst she awaits the return of her family from Somerset and the news that her husband, Jim, can finally come home.
It’s a dream she’s held onto for six long years, but fate has one more twist in store.

It's such a pleasure to be hosting the blog tour for With Hope and Love today. Huge thanks to Ellie Dean and to Rachel Kennedy from Arrow for inviting me and for my advance copy of the novel.

With Hope and Love is the seventeenth book in Ellie Dean's Cliffehaven series and with the war in Europe finally over, Peggy Reilly could be forgiven for thinking that life is finally going to become a little easier. However, what this novel beautifully - and often very poignantly  - demonstrates is that the effects of the war lasted long after the VE Day celebrations ended.
Although many of the men who have been away for so long are finally able to return to Cliffehaven, they all come home bearing the scars of war; whether physical, mental or both. I thought Ellie Dean captured the anguish that those who came home felt so well -  their conflicted emotions often driving a wedge between themselves and their families after the initial euphoria of their homecoming faded.  The unpredictable behaviour of these men is shown here to be hurtful and frightening to their families who suddenly found a virtual stranger in their midst. The importance of finding somebody they could talk to about their experiences is also explored and is a reminder that often these were men who were badly let down by the authorities who failed to provide the support they desperately needed, with many suffering from what we now understand to be PTSD.  Of course, not everyone came back and even at this late stage, the brutality of the enemy brings heartbreak back home.
As always, there are a few chapters which follow Peggy's husband, Jim who is still fighting in the Far East. The ferocity of the Japanese soldiers is renowned of course, and even though the Allies have driven them back, it seems that they will never surrender. Readers have the benefit of terrible hindsight here, and the inevitability of the decision to drop an atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki hangs over the book as we know what will eventually force Japan to accept the war is finished.
Meanwhile, Peggy is forced to wait anxiously for news while still taking care of her 'chicks' - the young women who have made Cliffehaven and the Beach View Boarding House their home. With the series drawing to a close, there are a few goodbyes here as some of the young women who have benefited from Peggy's wise words, no nonsense advice and loving care, are finally able to spread their wings and begin their new lives away from the seaside town. It's not all smooth sailing, however, and Ivy in particular has a big decision to make. It was often young people who were left with these dilemmas and With Hope and Love is a touching reminder of the burdens they faced at a time when their lives should have been more carefree.
There are plenty of lighter moments too, as for all the heartbreak, this was also a time of optimism. Reunited couples mean wedding bells and as always, the community pulls together to ensure those embarking on a new life together have a day to remember. There are new baby announcements as well, and a welcome return for Betty and Brendon who are one of my favourite couples and a pair I hope to see more of in the next book - even if that means more from the dreadful Pauline (who has taken over from the still reformed Doris as the character most in need of a few sharp words from Peggy!) With everybody looking towards the future, it's not surprising that the changing political landscape also plays a part with the characters discussing the upcoming election as the Conservatives led by the hero of the hour, Winston Churchill faced Clement Attlee's Labour Party who promised sweeping social reforms. The result is obviously not a shock to readers - unlike some of the characters - and I'm looking forward to seeing if the policies introduced by the new Government will feature in the next book.
With Hope and Love is as engrossing as I've come to expect from this series and the cliffhanger conclusion ensures there will be an anxious wait for the publication of the final novel, Homecoming next year which will be a bittersweet moment. I've loved getting to know Ellie Dean's characters; the authenticity of their lives and the various dramas they have faced have meant this is a series which is a heart-warming - yet never trivialising - testament to the resourcefulness and courage of those who lived through the Second World War. Highly recommended.

With Hope and Love is published by Arrow, purchasing links can be found here or buy from your local independent bookstore.

Don't miss the rest of the blog tour, details are below.

About the Author

Ellie Dean’s compelling saga series Beach View Boarding House is set during the turmoil of the Second World War. Ellie lives in a tiny hamlet set deep in the heart of the South Downs in Sussex, which has been her home for many years and where she raised her three children.
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