Reviewed by Gail M. Murray
Best-selling author, Jennifer Robson’s latest offering, Goodnight from London, is set in 1940’s Britain during the Blitz.
With only six months newspaper experience on The American, twenty-four year old Ruby Sutton is assigned to be a staffer at Picture Weekly and sails overseas to cover the war. After docking in Liverpool, she is met at the station by Captain Bennett, friend of her new editor, Walter Kaczmarek. From the first moment she meets Bennett, “handsome as a movie star” to their quiet dinner in an Italian bistro, she feels at ease. Seamlessly, Robson weaves the love story into the plot.
Soon Ruby is reporting on bombings. Coventry Cathedral has both Ruby and the reader reeling at the devastation. Ruby is tenacious in reporting news of the war and the Homefront, and even manages to secure a private interview with Eleanor Roosevelt, albeit under curious circumstances.
In one poignant scene, Ruby is walking home from the office when she hears a faint cry like the sound of a baby. She discovers a young cat limping and terrified. His fur is singed; his whiskers burned off. “A rush of emotion swept over Ruby. She knew what it was like to be unwanted, hungry, desperate for love…..She had once been alone in the world and utterly dependent on the kindness of strangers.”
Amid the toll of the London Blitz, Ruby grows in stature as a writer. As an American, she is an outsider and brings a different perspective. We experience with her the constant air raid sirens. Nightly bombings take their toll on sleep, yet Ruby and the British people soldier on going to work exhausted and making do with meagre rations.
When Ruby’s hotel is bombed, she finds a real home for the first time in her life with the Tremaine family. She also experiences love with Bennett, a man whose top secret missions involve danger, intrigue and a most tender love letter.
Robson’s strength lies in her smooth writing style, authentic settings and making the reader care about her well-developed characters. Though they face struggle, Robson rewards us with their personal growth, a sensitive love story, and an uplifting ending
Goodnight from London is published by William Morrow Paperbacks.