The Oceans Between Us Blog Tour and my Review
Today it's my absolute privilege to be part of the Blog Tour for the lovely new historical fiction title The Oceans Between us by Gill Thompson. My thanks go to Random things Tours and the publisher Headline books for inviting me along.
As soon as I received my copy to review I dived in and couldn't put it down. This book has that absorbing quality which lets you immerse yourself into the story quickly and deeply.
The Oceans Between us is a heartbreaking drama based on the true and shocking events of the children sent to Australia in the aftermath of world war 2.
This book begins at the height of the London Blitz as bombs fall all around, families head for air raid shelters and lives are ripped apart. It tells the story of young Jack who is separated from his beloved mother during the blitz in London and finds himself in an orphanage waiting and hoping for his Ma to come and claim him.
But he is offered the “opportunity” of all opportunities, a chance to migrate to Australia, where he is told life will be sweet with plenty of what youngsters have been missing in the war years, wholesome food, fresh air and fun. Although he worries that his Mother won't be able to find him he isn't in a position to say no and anyway he looks forward to escaping the rigidity of the orphanage and the strict Nuns who run it.
On the ship with his fellow orphanage lads he makes a new friend and together that pals plan their new lives in the sun.
He and his new pal end up at Bindoon, ostensibly a boys home run by religious brothers, but which is in reality little removed from a labour camp where the boys are half starved, abused and forced to work doing hard manual labour. He still dreams that his Mother is still alive and longs for her to come and get him.
It’s hard to comprehend that this was a real place and these events were shamefully all too true.
Meanwhile a woman who was found wandering alone and suffering from shock and complete memory loss, tries to piece together her life and over the years, as fragments of her memory return, we learn she is Jacks Mother and she also wants nothing more than to hold her lost boy in her arms once more.
This is above all a story of racial prejudices, and a cruel programme aimed at providing Australia with "good clean white breeding stock" – the British orphans and unwanted children sent there, many to conditions worse than those experienced during the war.
There are two love stories within these pages, both of which have similarities, people of different backgrounds coming together to overcome prejudice and find love, despite mixed race marriages being sadly very much frowned upon in, so called polite society, and threads of friendship, betrayal, bullying and abuse which make this a dark and harrowing read. I galloped through it wanting to know what eventually happens to Jack and his Mother and found an engrossing and captivating read that kept me on the edge of my seat.
Inspired by heartrending real events, a mother fights to find her son and a child battles for survival in this riveting debut novel.
For readers of Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate, Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly, The Letter by Kathryn Hughes, and Remember Me by Lesley Pearse.
'A warm-hearted tale of love, loss and indefatigable human spirit' Kathryn Hughes
A woman is found wandering injured in London after an air raid. She remembers nothing of who she is. Only that she has lost something very precious.
As the little boy waits in the orphanage, he hopes his mother will return. But then he finds himself on board a ship bound for Australia, the promise of a golden life ahead, and wonders: how will she find him in a land across the oceans?
In Perth, a lonely wife takes in the orphaned child. But then she discovers the secret of his past. Should she keep quiet? Or tell the truth and risk losing the boy who has become her life?
This magnificent, moving novel, set in London and Australia, is testament to the strength of the human spirit and the enduring power of love.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Gill Thompson is an English lecturer who recently completed an MA in Creative Writing at Chichester University. The first three chapters of THE OCEANS BETWEEN US were longlisted for the Mslexia novel award. She lives with her family in West Sussex and teaches English to college students.