Noel Streatfeild is better known for her children’s books, particularly the Shoe books, but she also wrote novels for adults, especially one about children for adults, Saplings. In it, the children in question are the Wiltshires, Laurel, Tony, Kim, and Tueday. The novel opens with an idyllic seaside holiday trip that quickly becomes overshadowed by the war, which over the course of the novel will have a strong effect on all of the Wiltshire family, adults and children alike.
It’s been a long time since I’ve read any of the Shoe books, but I do remember, and what is apparent here, is that Streatfeild excels at writing from the perspective of children and adolescents (though of course here the subject matter is a lot darker). The war has a mostly adverse effect on the Wiltshire children, and the author captures brilliantly the uncertainty and danger of both the war and of growing up—which in and of itself can be a bit like the war at times!
The novel was published in 1945, and this story of the dissolution of a family must have been a bit more shocking back then—even though from a more modern perspective, it’s quite devastating.
This is Persephone #16 (endpaper below)