Goodreads ~ It’s always been easier for Cara Hargraves to bury herself in the past than confront the present, which is why working with a gruff but brilliant antiques dealer is perfect. While clearing out an estate, she pries open an old tin that holds the relics of a lost relationship: among the treasures, a World War II-era diary and a photograph of a young woman in uniform. Eager to find the author of the hauntingly beautiful, unfinished diary, Cara digs into this soldier’s life but soon realizes she may not have been ready for the stark reality of wartime London she finds within the pages.
In 1941, nineteen-year-old Louise Keene’s life had been decided for her - she’ll wait at home in her Cornish village until her wealthy suitor returns from war to ask for her hand. But when Louise unexpectedly meets Flight Lieutenant Paul Bolton, a dashing RAF pilot stationed at a local base, everything changes. And changes again when Paul’s unit is deployed without warning.
Desperate for a larger life, Louise joins the women’s branch of the British Army in the anti-aircraft gun unit as a Gunner Girl. As bombs fall on London, she and the other Gunner Girls relish in their duties to be exact in their calculations, and quick in their identification of enemy planes during air raids. The only thing that gets Louise through those dark, bullet-filled nights is knowing she and Paul will be together when the war is over. But when a bundle of her letters to him are returned unanswered, she learns that wartime romance can have a much darker side.
In 1941 during World War II, Louise is living in a small town in England and working in a store. Her mother has her life planned for her ... when Gary, a local man who Louise had a couple dates with but had no interest in, returns from the war, they will get married and raise a family. But Louise has bigger dreams ... she wants to have a life outside their small town, perhaps even go to California (she has a postcard of California tacked to her wall).
Louise meets a pilot named Paul at a local dance and they fall in love. When Paul is shipped out, Louise also yearns get away from home plus do something to help with the war effort so joins the woman's branch of the British Army and becomes a Gunner Girl. She and Paul are able to exchange letters so keep in touch. Louise had started keeping a diary when she was working in the store and continues when she goes into the army.
In present day, Cara is working for a crusty antiques dealer. Divorced, she had moved back to live near her grandmother. While cataloging the estate of the recently deceased Leonora, she comes across an old tin biscuit box containing a the diary of "L.K.", a small compass, a locket and a picture. The box doesn't belong to Leonora so Cara is determined to reunite the contents with the "L.K.'s" family. With the help of her new neighbour, Liam, a history professor, they try to learn what they can of L.K.'s past.
This is the first book I've read by this author and I liked it. It's written in third person perspective ... alternating in Louise's voice and Cara's voice (the chapters are labeled so you know whose voice it is). Included throughout the book are the entries from Louise's diary and the letters she had received. This worked for me as it gave me an opportunity to know what was going on in their thoughts. I found the story of Louise's life after the army a bit too vague, though ... I would have like to have more details.
I didn't know anything about the Gunner Girls so it was interesting to learn a bit of history.