Book review

Daisy Chain War by Joan O'Neill (1990)

The Doyle family are Irish. They live in Dublin. And Lizzie Doyle is growing up during the period of the Second World War.

Actually, the Republic of Ireland was neutral during the War but that did not mean that life was easy in Dublin. There were severe shortages of basic foodstuffs during The Emergency, as it was known. Many thousands of Irish men and women fought against the German Reich, either joining the British armed forces to do so, or crossing over to Britain to help with war work in the industrial centres.

If you were living in London things were worse. During the Blitz in 1940/1 many thousands of ordinary Londoners were killed. Small wonder that Lizzie's Auntie Sissy decided that Dublin was the place for her only daughter, Victoria.

Lizzie and Vicky are cousins. They are both about ten when Vicky comes to stay:

But when I saw her standing there, an ugly black rubber gas-mask hitting off her knobbly knees, her cardboard suitcase secured with string tightly clutched to her, a big label around her neck with her name written on it, my heart sank. An overwhelming sense of betrayal was my strongest emotion as I watched this skinny waif with huge eyes hollowed out of a skeletal face. How could I introduce this miserable girl with lanky hair and dressed in a raggy school uniform to the gang as my cousin Victoria from London?

You'll be surprised how well Vicky settles in with the Doyle family and life in Dublin. Vicky hasn't really experienced proper family life before, and loves it. Lizzie and Vicky are very different people, but although they have their arguments, the strongest of bonds is forged between them. They disagree over friends, and fall in love with the same young man, and all the time they are growing up, the War is casting its shadow over their future paths.

I loved this book! Highly recommended.

What can I read next?

If you enjoy this book, there's more! It is the first book of a trilogy:

  • Daisy Chain War
  • Bread and Sugar
  • Daisy Chain Dream

If you would like to read about life as an evacuee, you might enjoy either of these by Michelle Magorian:

If you really enjoy a story about growing up, you could look at this classic by Jean Webster:

Or this present day story by Gaye Hicyilmaz about a Romanian refugee:

This moving book by Theresa Breslin is about growing up during the First World War. Nothing much changes:

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