Sweet Memories of You is the latest installment in Ellie Dean’s Beach View Boarding House series, following the community of Cliffehaven as they endure the horrors of World War 2. Landlady Peggy Reilly is put to the test again, facing a new set of challenges as the war wages on.
Going about life as normal with the looming threat of German bomb attacks can’t have been an easy feat, but the strong folk in the coastal town of Cliffehaven somehow manage. People go to work, support the war effort and try to keep up morale without focusing too much on being separated from their loved ones. Resourceful and resilient Peggy is the heart and soul of the series, doing her best to support her family and the waifs and strays she takes into Beach View. She can handle just about any emergency and provides a sturdy shoulder to cry on.
In this story, we learn more about Peggy’s sister Doreen, including her mysterious work for the Ministry of Defence and her long-distance relationship with Archie. Ignoring the menacing letters she receives from her ex-husband Eddie, she makes the most of each day and lives life to the full. However, after being involved in a tragic accident covered up by the government, her life is turned upside down. She turns to Peggy and the loving souls at Beach View to help her move forward.For those who enjoy eagerly following an exciting plot, the book will be rather disappointing. Having said that, there are some characters who redeem this otherwise sluggish wartime tale. Factory girl Ivy is a larger-than-life personality, but unfortunately she isn’t a central part of the narrative. Mischievous war hero Ron and his cheeky dog Harvey get up to plenty of shenanigans, brightening the lives of those around them in any way they can. Ivy and Ron embody the “British stiff upper lip” stereotype and add some humour to the novel.
The Beach View series isn’t driven by dramatic plots, but rather the details of day-to-day life during the war, British stoicism and individuals overcoming major challenges. For fans of her books, Ellie Dean writes charmingly about people from all walks of life united by this dark period of history, how they supported each other and how they managed to cook meals that were actually edible.
Sweet Memories of You was published in paperback by Arrow on 28 January