The Call of the Wrens
WRITTEN BY JENNI L. WALSH
REVIEW BY TRISH MACENULTY
From its intriguing cover to the author’s note at the end, this book will captivate readers. Alternating between the story of Marion, a “Wren” in the Great War, and Evelyn, who serves in World War II, the story delves into the important and often overlooked history of the British women who risked their lives to serve their country.
Marion is an unwanted orphan, who refuses to speak to anyone until she finds acceptance and love with Eddie, an orphan like herself. When she ages out of the orphanage, she has only one option: join the Women’s Royal Naval Service. But Eddie isn’t about to let her go without him, so he joins the Navy and makes sure they are always in close proximity. When tragedy befalls them, Marion becomes a bitter recluse until an old friend convinces her to come back to the Wrens, just in time to become a mentor to Evelyn, a young woman who has overcome a physical disability and familial disapproval to become a motorcycle messenger for the resurrected service.
The characters (including a brave pigeon) are sympathetic and believable, the plot has plenty of surprises, and the history of these heroic women is fascinating. I read this book on the beach and couldn’t turn the pages fast enough, but it would be also be an ideal read in a cozy chair with a cup of tea in front of the fireplace.
Review appeared in HNR Issue 102 (November 2022) and can be found online at https://historicalnovelsociety.org/reviews/the-call-of-the-wrens/