This is Millie Gray’s third story set in wartime Leith, in which we meet a family surviving hardships at home and overseas. The author’s comedic writing pops its head through some of the dialogue, sometimes at odds with the story. Some important issues are covered here, when illiterate Tam is unable to write from his prisoner of war camp to say that he is alive and the family fears the worst. His attractive wife findsÂ comfort in the arms of other men and produces a baby. Will Tam accept this stranger when he returns, in order to keep his beloved family together?
For me, this was as much Tam’s story, as he sets out to improve his lot and make the best of everything that comes his way. But is is also about three generations of his family. The Crystal in the story is a nickname which is given more than half way through the book by the boy that Senga fancies but who doesn’t return her love. (So why does he give her such an attractive nickname?) She too accepts her fate and gets on with things as best she can.
I don’t know if this book is supposed to be humorous, moving or just a good story but its authentic setting will appeal to those who have enjoyed the author’s previous two novels,In a Class of Their Own and In a League of Their Own.