By Juliet West
Published by Mantle
Available in hardback
Juliet West's second novel, The Faithful, is a coming of age story in England, a country on the brink of World War II. Communities are divided, generations have drifted apart. Oswald Mosley's Blackshirts are causing trouble on the streets. This is a fascinating story about families and friendships formed and also broken based on each other's beliefs.
Hazel, sixteen, lives on the Sussex coast, and her summer is dragging. She feels alienated from her family, her friends have gone for the summer and she feels isolated from the outside world. She is bored with life and the routines she has fallen into.
Her life changes when the Blackshirts, a far-right political group arrive for the summer. Hazel can see people helping each other, a community with the same values, a sense of belonging - everything she has been craving. She befriends Lucia, an upper class girl who is devoted to the cause and also Tom, a working class boy who is cynical to the Blackshirt's principles. Hazel's life becomes entangled with both her friends, leading her away from a life she was meant to have - get married and have children.
This is a novel about love and deception as Hazel runs away to London with a life changing secret. She tries to escape society's expectations for a girl her age. Her life steers Hazel away from society's acceptable behaviour. West shows the reader how dangerous extreme political groups can be - they way they promise a sense of belonging, safety and security, manipulating their members with extreme views.
The Faithful is a interesting read not just to see a young girl battle against society's expectations but for the social history during this period. West combines the personal and political into a great novel where the reader can draw parallels with today's' society. You can buy The Faithful from your favourite bookshop.
I was sent a copy via the publisher.