|Book Series||The "Gang" Series|
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In the autumn of 1940, a youngster, bombed out from an orphanage in London, arrives in the village of Widdlington to live with his pious spinster aunt.
The village, far from being a peaceful haven, is divided into several gang territories each with its leader and its traditional customs and taboos. The new arrival, searching to belong, must thread his way through these territorial minefields. In so doing, he makes various friends, allies and enemies.
Violence is part of the scene and the evacuee knows that sooner or later he must either fight the school bully or submit to his tyranny. He is not, however, the submissive kind.
At home he has to reckon with his aunt who imposes a strict religious discipline. The clash between aunt and nephew, exacerbated by the stress due to gang rivalry, creates many tense situations, some of which are not lacking in humour.
Because of the war, most able-bodied men are in the armed forces; the women and girls therefore play an important role in the daily life of the village. There is a strong feminine influence on events, coupled with a growing assurance among the girls at the village school. Alliances across the territorial boundaries of the various gangs result in undercover deals, including the “betrayal” of gang secrets.
Friendships between the children are affected by the arrival of the newcomer. These changing relationships, including those between children and adults, play their part in the unfolding of events. Adult conventions are not always observed by the children who have their own codes and ways of circumventing adult authority. Despite this, the newcomer becomes a victim of adult prejudice when he falls tragically in love for the first time in his life. This relationship, like that of Romeo and Juliet, is doomed from the start.
The war-torn world of 1940, although very different from that of today, had a profound influence on contemporary life. Part of the interest of this tale lies in the journey back to that world whose children are today’s great-grandparents. A further part is the fascinating, never-ending story of belonging and of love.