Skip to main content

Book Review and GIVEAWAY: Before the Last All Clear by Ray Evans


When Ray Evans was six years old, he and his siblings were all evacuated from Liverpool, which was in danger of being bombed during World War II. They were sent to South Wales in September 1939. Although his mother wanted the children to stay together, it was not possible and they were split up. Before the Last All Clear: Memories of a Man Still Haunted by the Cruelties He Endured is Ray Evan's memoir of the time he spent in Wales during the war, the horrible conditions in which he lived, and the situations and people he encountered before finally returning home in 1945.

This is an incredibly personal memoir that opened my eyes to situations I never really knew about. When the war began many children were evacuated from areas that were likely to be in the throws of the war. I first read about children being evacuated from one place to another during the war in The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Anne Shaffer. That was fiction. This was real life.

Ray Evans tells of the many different homes in which he was placed during his time in Wales. The first place was that of a couple. The husband wanted Ray and his brother to stay with them; the wife did not. And she made their lives a living hell while they stayed with her. Then he moved on to a home that was so dirty and miserable he realized he didn't have it so bad at the first place. Evans offers anecdotes about his time in these homes, and in the schools where he was teased, and it breaks your heart to think of how he suffered.

But he also provides some lighthearted stories and a glimpse into the last family that took him in, which was so kind he didn't want to leave them. The memoir is written as stories told by a grandfather to his grandchildren, which was the original intention of the book. Evans wanted to put his stories on paper so they would never be lost. The writing style is not refined, and there's a bit of skipping around in terms of time frames, but the stories Evans has to tell are definitely worth hearing.

My Rating: 3.5/5

Listen to an excerpt
Watch the book trailer
Learn more about Ray Evans

This review was written based on an ebook copy of Before the Last All Clear that I received from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Giveaway
The author has graciously offered a copy of Before the Last All Clear as a giveaway for one of my readers. To enter, just leave a comment below with your email address. The giveaway ends at 10:00pm EDT on October 17, 2011.

Comments

  1. I enjoyed this lovely slice of social history from Ray Evans.

    I agree that although the novel skipped about the timeframe, it came across just a grandfather would tell those stories to grandchildren.


    carol

    ReplyDelete
  2. Lovely review. Would love the opportunity to read.

    @kirstylou29 on twitter

    ReplyDelete
  3. This made me think of The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe. Clearly that was fiction, and most children probably did not land in as nice of a house as the Pevensies did in that novel. I'd be interested to read about what it was really like.

    Thanks for the giveaway!

    afewmorepages[at]gmail[dot]com

    ReplyDelete
  4. I recall reading about someone who had a very bad experience after being evacuated from London, but I can't remember if it was fiction or nonfiction, now. Well, at any rate, this book sounds fascinating. I'd love to read it. Thanks for the giveaway!

    bookfoolery at gmail dot com

    ReplyDelete
  5. i love reading memoirs they are so personal and interesting,

    katie_tp AT yahoo DOT com

    ReplyDelete
  6. This sounds like a book I would really enjoy. Nice review, Julie! Please enter me and thanks for the chance. =O)

    truebookaddictATgmailDOTcom

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Thanks for stopping by! I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Popular posts from this blog

Getting back to blogging

It seems that blogging has dropped to the bottom of my list for the past year, and was pretty low for the year or two prior to that. I love to read, and am continuing to do so, but as my regular readers know I haven't been around much. My last blog post was almost a year ago!!

There are many things that have taken me away from blogging. Work has been much more challenging and interesting these past few years, but that means I really don't want to get back on the computer when I get home at night - or on the weekends.

Family life has been more busy with kids having multiple activities in the evenings, leaving little time to just hang out and write about the books that I read.

I will admit to a bit of a Facebook addiction, which means way too much time spent scrolling through my newsfeed instead of doing something more productive. This is one of the things I'm working on and hoping that this will free up some time for getting back to the blog.

Overall, life is good. Work is …

Book Review: The Bookman's Tale by Charlie Lovett

Peter Byerly is distraught over the loss of his wife nine months ago. He has retreated to their cottage in the English countryside, hoping to return to his love of collecting and restoring rare books. But when he opens a book about Shakespeare forgeries and finds a Victorian watercolor of a woman who looks just like his wife, Peter is soon on a search for the origin of the painting and the truth about Shakespeare's real identity.

The Bookman's Tale: A Novel of Obsession by Charlie Lovett is a wonderful journey for anyone who loves books. It follows Peter's search in 1995, which turns into a bit of a thriller at times. But Lovett also takes the reader back in time a bit so we can learn the story of his relationship with his wife and how he came to be a bookseller. He does a beautiful job of expressing Peter's feelings about the rare books he encounters, and his feelings are contagious.

And then he takes us back even further to the history of one particular volume, whos…

Book Review: The Secret Lake by Karen Inglis

When Stella and Tom move to a new home in London, they are sad to have left their friends behind. But soon they have a mystery to solve. Their neighbor's dog, Harry, keeps disappearing. Where is he going and why is he always wet when he comes home? As they investigate the area in the garden where Harry seems to come and go, they discover a hidden tunnel that takes them back to their garden ... almost 100 years ago.

The Secret Lake by Karen Inglis is a wonderful children's book that reminds me of the adventurous stories I read as a child. I saw other reviewers say something similar. I'm not sure what it is about the way the story is told, but it is reminiscent of children's books from many years ago, yet it will definitely appeal to the kids of today.

Stella and Tom have an adventure in the past that leads to new friends and discoveries. While it's a time travel story, it doesn't have a lot of fantasy elements (although there are some moles that act a bit unusua…