3 out of 4 stars
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As I was finishing The Dark Before The Dawn, I was thinking about how the title reminded me of Peggy’s life. Peggy had a dark and difficult past. She was sexually abused by her father, who also physically abused her mother. She is a widow, but as you read the book you may find that to be a good thing. She also lost a child to a miscarriage. As Peggy moves further into adulthood, she is able to make peace with her past and create a satisfying life for herself. She is a midwife at St. Margaret’s Women’s Hospital, which is on the east end of London. She has some close friends to keep her company, but no husband or child.
Finding a suitable husband can be difficult. Especially when you have had some tragic relationships in your past like Peggy. She does have a chance encounter with a kind gentleman named Charles. He helps her to pick up some money she drops and carries her packages to the bus stop for her. Peggy daydreams of her interaction with this sweet man but finds out much to her chagrin he is already married. After some unforeseen circumstances, Peggy and Charles meet again and it may finally be the right time to pick up where they left off. Are they willing to ignore disapproval from some people to further their relationship?
I was immediately drawn to this book when I read in the description that Peggy was a midwife. Having my first child delivered by a midwife, I felt a connection to the character. Much of the book takes place in the late 1930s. When Peggy talks about the doctor giving a woman chloroform during childbirth, I was so surprised. After some research, I did find that chloroform was used at one time during the birthing process. Therefore, it was interesting to see the differences between then and now with the delivery of a child.
Since the book takes place in the late 1930s, the effects of the war on Britain are discussed. I found this to be very interesting and heart-rending. The meat is rationed to a quarter of a pound per person per week. I’m not sure if that is exaggerated, but I can’t imagine living off that. Also, the soldiers take over Charles’ large country home to care for injured men. I have heard of this in other historical fiction novels about World War II. It’s still shocking to have to imagine sharing your home with a stranger. Finally, the book also talked about children being evacuated from London and separated from their families. This was ultimately done for their safety but could be very traumatic for them too.
There wasn’t anything I disliked about the book. I did find at least ten errors though so that reduced my score. I rate The Dark Before The Dawn 3 out of 4. I thought it was interesting that the author, Annette Creswell, resides in Australia but wrote a book that takes place in a different country. In my experience, authors usually write a book that takes place in the country they live in. Creswell must have done a lot of research on the time period and the country to describe it so vividly. This novel would appeal to readers who like romance novels and historical fiction about World War II. Due to sexual content and some bad language, the book is most appropriate for adults.
The Dark Before The Dawn
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