I had such high hopes for this one. First off, it's written by the author of Little Bee, and while I hated that book, I felt compelled by it and it was extrenely well written. Of course this one is set during World War 2 ( my favorite time period) and it's about a teacher - sort of - so I thought it would be a winner.
Just like his other book, this one is extremely well written. Grammatically speaking it's impeccable. This is the story of Mary, a young woman who wants to do her part for the war effort so she signs up with the war office. She thinks that she will be given the glamorous job of being a spy, but instead, they make her a school teachers. She is with the children when they are evaccuated out of London but the school principal doesn't really think that Mary is cut out to be a teacher - she lacks discipline and a firm hand and is therefor sent back to the city to be reassigned.
Mary realizes that she still wants to teach. This is how her story entertwines with that of Tom, a district director for the school system and Alistair, an artist whose job, before volunteering for the war ,is perserving works of art.
I thought this story was going to be about Mary's efforts as a teacher with the children who were left behind - those who were not seen to be worthy to evacuate - the coloreds, the crippled, the mentaly delayed. But this was not that story.
While the author dies a wonderful job of weaving this complex story - there is just one thing it's missing - the FEELS. Honestly, less than halfway through the book, I couldn't have cared less what happened to Mary. My favorite characters were Zachary her student and Cesar ,the stuffed cat. That pretty much sums it up. I gave it three stars, but honestly, that's a gift.