Reading · Writing

Book Review: The Orphans of Half Penny Street by Cathy Sharp

Genre: Historical fiction

Rating: 5/5

Plot:

When there is nowhere else to turn, St Saviour’s will give them hope…

It’s 1947 and London’s East End is still a bombed-out landscape. Sister Beatrice, who runs the St Saviour’s Children’s Home, knows that life is still a precarious existence for many children and it seems that there is no end to the constant stream of waifs and strays who appear at their door looking for a safe haven.
One such arrival is Mary Ellen whose mother is gravely ill. The one silver lining is her best friend, the tearaway Billy Baggins, also a resident of the home, but Billy seems intent on falling foul of Sister Beatrice’s strict regime.
New arrival on the staff, Angela, admires Sister Beatrice, but can see that the children need love and kindness as well as a strong hand. When an unwelcome face from Billy’s past arrives on the scene, things are brought to a head. Can the two women work together to keep Billy on the straight and narrow – or is it too late?

My verdict: Overall heart wrenching agreed with very likeable characters that jump off the page. Overall the plots interweave nicely and we see lots of themes such as the wealth and class divide, friendship, learning right from wrong and doing the right thing despite what others think. All of this romance and drama is set against the backdrop of Britain rebuilding it’s economy after World War II. Sharp writes with such gritty realism that you can’t help but be transported to the time period and feel as though you are a monks the characters on their journey.

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