RIPPLE EFFECT Because of the War ISBN: 9781532398278 assumed published, copyright and written by Jenny Ferns.
Briefly, the story presents a quite in-depth picture of the horrific period encountered by Londoners especially, and other English residents through the ‘ripple effect’ of WW II – the bombings, the splitting of families with child evacuations to ‘safer’ areas where they were housed with unknown foster parents, extreme food shortages/rationing, petrol control and constant uncertainty with respect to life itself and that of loved ones. It extends further exploring the devastating post war period with its resulting bouts of extended depression, alcoholism, narcotic addition, and the debilitating results of PTSD. The tale is presented in five distinct parts. The first is in pre-WW II London and introduces sisters Veronica, a stable university graduate counselor in a Child Guidance Clinic; her more ‘flighty’ younger sister Rachel; Veronica’s flat-sharing mate and steadfast friend Heather; Suzie, Rachel’s out-of-wedlock daughter; Richard, senior RAF pilot who marries Veronica. Part II depicts war time civilian as well as military (air) activity. III is set in a small village after the war. IV follows a move of return to city life. Part V provides a section entitled Changes and depicts the results of changes finally initiated in an attempt to combat the hugely destructive influences the war had inflicted on countless family lives as exemplified here by providing one family’s horrendously distressing trials.
Discussion: the author has described one of the more devastating periods in modern history and has approached it in a quite sensitive manner from her personal experience as an Englishwoman and mother and later a clinical psychologist who in private practice had specialized in trauma, PTSD, addiction and family dynamics. The characters presented quite nicely reflect the activities one should expect from the flaws enclosed within each of them and the final outcome is totally credible. A caveat should be included for readers who might find certain references unacceptable. However, they must be reminded that this is a story set in a time when such references were quite routine.
5* Devastating effects of WW II on a London family; caveat required.
Brett Rawlins is a very young man who discovers his father, supposedly a suicide, a short time after his mother’s death. He is left with attempting to make a go of the Wyoming ranch that was his father’s dream. Picnicking with the girl he thought would be his bride eventually, he is shot and tumbles into a ravine where he is left for dead by gunmen who work for the expanding cattle baron who wants his ranch. He somehow survives, is nursed back to health by Lisa, part of a Mormon family living some distance away. He recovers and leaves to save Allie from the gunmen only to discover that she was part of the plan to do away with him. From this point the story evolves into his attempts to regain his ranch by any means he can devise and is helped constantly by Crow Indian Chief Red Elk and a Cheyenne/Crow Princess, Mourning Song. She is one of a group of Indian maidens whom he saves after they had been kidnapped by men working for the same employer as the gunmen who thought they had killed Brett. After numerous poorly thought-out attempts to nullify the plans of the viscous cattle baron, he finally discovers that his only recourse is to personally face him and his henchmen in a showdown.
Discussion: The author has set forth an interesting enough plot that regrettably from this reader’s perspective, has been peopled with characters with whom it is difficult to empathize. Little is offered with respect to Allie and her brief appearances and similarly Lisa. Mourning Song presents a rather enigmatic picture but some of her activity does not quite exemplify that of a Cheyenne/Crow woman, especially of her purported status. Red Elk, although briefly described, is of considerable interest but the rest of the characters are rather shadow-like. The Mormons are portrayed to exhibit all of the better qualities espoused by members of that religion, but their total surprise by, and quiet acceptance of the cattle baron’s brutality are difficult to accept with the amount of violence already absorbed and also delivered by members of their sect during that particularly chaotic period in history. With respect to the protagonist, it is granted that he is young. However, this reader’s reaction to his inability to think clearly or to devise plans other than those requiring him most frequently to be saved by circumstances and/or by others, is disappointingly irritating.
Summary: A chaotic historical era and place woven into an interesting fictional tale that, regrettably from this reviewer’s perspective, could have been enhanced by a little more thought with respect to the matters mentioned.
3* Reviewer’s thoughts on interesting tale of a chaotic time in history.