The Call of the Wrens by Jenni L Walsh
A few months back, I saw some of my favorite historical fiction authors posting about an upcoming book, The Call of the Wrens, that was hitting shelves in November. I immediately hurried over to Netgalley to request an advance copy for myself. And let me just say, their recommendation did not disappoint!
The Call of the Wrens is a story that I absolutely flew through. With its beautiful writing, strong female characters, and fascinating glimpse into history, I could not put this book down!
This novel explores the WRNS and their role in both the First and Second World Wars. This dual-timeline aspect was very well done as you don’t often see both world wars featured within the same novel. I wasn’t sure how they were going to tie together (beyond them both featuring the role of Wrens) but the book wrapped up in a very satisfactory way.
Both Marion and Evelyn’s stories were equally compelling and their characters well-developed. The obstacles both women had to overcome made them relatable and easy to root for. While their love stories were fairly predictable, these plot lines were also sweet and filled with heart.
When reading WWII fiction, I’m always on the lookout for something fresh — some historical fact or plot point that hasn’t been covered yet. The Call of the Wrens gave me exactly that with the motorcycle despatch riders. I hadn’t heard of women working this role during the wars and I loved what this brought to the story. These women were courageous and brave, and completely inspirational. I also felt very similarly about Marion’s work with the pigeons. While the use of carrier pigeons during WWI is common knowledge, there were a lot of new details in here for me about what that job actually entailed. These were fabulous bits of history that have been woven into a heartfelt novel full of resilience and warmth.
WWI and WWII historical fiction fans
This post contains affiliate links; as an Amazon associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. e-ARC provided courtesy of Netgalley and the publisher, Harper Muse. All opinions expressed are my own.
About the book:
(From the publisher): 1917 England — An orphan coming of age without a penny to her name, Marion joins the Women’s Royal Navy Service (the “Wrens”) as a motorcycle despatch rider on the Western Front, assigned to train and deliver carrier pigeons to the front line. Despite the hardships and constant threat of danger, Marion feels as if she finally belongs and that she has a purpose. Meanwhile, she and her childhood best friend, Eddie, dream of a future after the war—until tragedy strikes.
1936 England — A society girl, Evelyn has overcome a childhood disability and has found her true passion in automobile racing. When England enters WWII, Evelyn sees an opportunity to use her skills as a despatch rider, but her parents threaten to cut her off if she doesn’t start acting like a lady and marry the man they have chosen for her.
Meanwhile, a fellow Wren shows up at Marion’s door with an unwelcome call to return to her service.
Told in alternating narratives that converge in a single life-changing moment, The Call of the Wrens is a vivid, emotional saga of love, war, secrets, and resilience.