Released: June 2015
Maddy Hebditch is fairly content with her life in the picturesque Yorkshire Dales. She was orphaned at a young age and has had to work hard on her formidable grandmother’s farm, but she wins a scholarship at a reputable school and has her best friends Alice, Tom and Marigold to keep her company. But before she knows it, her trivial concerns and childhood adventures are over as a result of World War 2. Maddy, Alice, Marigold and Tom have no choice but to leave childhood behind and go their separate ways to contribute to the war effort.
The discouraging comments made by condescending male army officers only make Maddy more determined to become a ‘girl gunner’ in the ATS. Over the next few years, the only contact she has with her friends and family is through the occasional letter. While she’s away, her previously simple life becomes more complicated; her grandmother’s employees Mr and Mrs O’ Halloran take advantage of Maddy’s absence and plan to take ownership of the family farm. Her friends Alice and Marigold are already considering marriage. Worst of all, her childhood crush Tom is seriously injured in battle. For the first time since war broke out, Maddy takes leave from her duties to set things right at home. It’s up to Maddy to help her grandmother save the farm that has been in their family for centuries and to be there for the man she loves.
Katie Flynn’s latest wartime novel is sadly devoid of interesting characters; all of the personalities in this story are two-dimensional and therefore almost impossible to connect with. The petty squabbles between the group of friends are tiresome and none of them become any more likeable as the plot progresses. Their experiences of the war are mostly glossed over, and the dreary dialogue does nothing to bring these characters to life. The romance element of the story is equally dull. Tom has romantic feelings for each of his female friends at some point, but it’s difficult to care which girl he chooses in the end.
A Summer Promise had the potential to be a gripping insight into women’s roles during World War 2, but instead it presents a somewhat fluffy picture of war and offers nothing substantial. The beautiful setting and rich subject matter were unfortunately wasted on a flimsy plot and feeble characters.