'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.' - author Jackie French

Wednesday, 17 February 2016

Review: The Bakehouse

Bert has just returned from his elder sister Betty’s funeral. At age 84, his memory has faded to a large degree but when his unknown great-grandson turns up, he is forced back into the past. Erueti wants to learn about his family line. More threatening is his request to learn about the building with the strange name of the Geronimo bakehouse.

Bert’s life during the WW2 is revealed with each memory soon linking to another. But he realizes there is one memory, a guilty secret he has kept all these years that must not die with him.

Bert discovers the bakehouse which has been hidden for years. He decides to clean it up and stock it with supplies to use as a bomb shelter when it is needed. But days into his plans, he finds a sick soldier hiding there. Bert with his elder sister Betty and little Meg keep the soldier’s secret and squirrel food, medicine and basic needs to keep him alive. They live in fear when the military police come searching for the deserter. But the outcome is nothing like they had anticipated.

Joy Cowley cleverly builds the story and retains the reader’s interest chapter after chapter. Bert’s family and living conditions during those years are brought to life again through her descriptive prose. The brilliant characters that walk into and out of focus serve to showcase the results of giving in to anger, and the guilt that stays with us when we do.

A lot of history is recalled as background story and many issues faced during the war years are touched upon. I enjoyed this well-constructed and informative book which reveals human strengths and weaknesses, the ability to adapt in difficult circumstances, and how loyalty, trust and protest can take many forms.

Title: The Bakehouse
Author: Joy Cowley
Publisher: Gecko Press, $16.99 RRP
Publication Date: August 2015
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 9781776570072
For ages: 9-13
Type: Historical fiction

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