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Flatlands by Sue Hubbard review – a tender portrait of wartime youth

A poignant novel inspired by The Snow Goose about the search for connection and contentment Elderly Freda is in a care home in Hackney, remembering her wartime evacuation to the Lincolnshire Wash, where at 12 years old she was sent on a train away from all she knew in east London. Hubbard’s description of this phase in Freda’s life – the bleak landscape, the cold house, the minimum rations, the abuse, Freda getting her first period, alone and with no one to ask – is affecting and memorable, as is the cruelty of most of the people Freda meets during this time. For survivors, memories of the wartime years have become “a patchwork of events etched across our hearts”, thinks Freda. But the attempts of care home staff to interest her in a BBC programme commemorating the 75th anniversary of Dunkirk are met with listlessness. “Soon it will pass from living memory and be no more relevant than the Battle of Waterloo,” Freda muses in her diary. Continue reading...

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