Under the Golden Sun
by Jenny Ashcroft
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Pub Date 15 Mar 2022 | Archive Date 29 Mar 2022
A "remarkable novel of family and love during a time of war,"* Jenny Ashcroft's Under the Golden Sun follows a soul-searching young woman who takes a leap of faith and discovers a place to call home and someone to share her heart.
England, 1941. The world is at war. London is under siege as the German blitz pounds the city without warning, without mercy. Rose Hamilton did her part as a member of the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force until she was unfairly discharged following a tragic loss. Working as a secretary on a Devon farmland, Rose is out of harm’s way, but she needs to contribute to something greater than herself to truly recover.
Answering a newspaper advertisement for a companion to accompany an orphaned child to Australia, Rose becomes enchanted with four-year-old Walter Lucknow. Shy, imaginative, and kind, the boy lost his parents and has been living in near seclusion with his elder great aunt. As heir to a wealthy Australian cattle station, Walter must return to his homeland and his mother’s family.
Leaving her own family—and fiancé—Rose braves the long, dangerous voyage across Pacific waters where war is imminent to see Walter safely home. But upon arrival, Rose learns the truth about Walter’s relationship to the Lucknows and the land he’s supposed to inherit, a truth that haunts the boy’s Uncle Max, a wounded pilot scarred inside and out. And as Max opens his heart up to Walter, Rose is drawn to the man’s strength and compassion, finding herself torn between returning to England and staying with the child and man she’s grown to love.
*New York Times bestselling author Karen White
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 184 members
Jenny Ashcroft’s Under the Golden Sun swept me off of my feet and back to 1940s England and Australia. I was completely absorbed by the story, and simply couldn’t put it down.
Traumatized by the war and her own personal tragedies, Rose isn’t looking for any more life-changing experiences. Yet when she sees the ad searching for a caregiver to accompany a four year old boy on a voyage to Australia, she can’t help but feel a tug in her heart that leads her to just inquire about the opportunity.
There are plenty of reasons for Rose to turn down the job. Her fighter pilot brother, her politician uncle, a fiancé, the life she had planned for herself. But after meeting little Walter, she can’t help but do all she can to help him get to his new home. But will she be able to leave Walter once he’s settled? Or will Walter, and his estranged family, need her more than ever?
While there are loads of historical fiction novels set during WWII, this one really stands apart for me. It highlights a less frequently portrayed region, as well as featuring characters wounded early in the war. The portrayal of wounded veterans is inclusive and important. Ashcroft expertly demonstrates the trauma of recovering from one world war while in the midst of another. The time and place settings raise the already high stakes for these characters, and make this book impossible to put down.
The characters are phenomenally well developed. As someone who often interacts with young children, I’m always thrilled to find realistic depictions of kids, from the funny things they say to their unfiltered personalities to their struggles. Rose’s patience and gentleness with fragile Walter is part of what makes her such a lovable character, though her tenacity in recovering from her own tragedy while helping Walter through his is another reason to love her. Although Rose is often viewed by others as delicate, she possesses great grit and determination. That Walter is her motivation for standing up for him, and herself, is all the more endearing.
Like many historical fiction novels, heavy themes of grief, loss, and recovery are present. The lingering effects of grief are well described, and vary depending on character and personality accurately. The characters and their losses are so intricately described and relatable that I found myself tearful on more than one occasion.
Though the cast of characters is wide, each character is so fully developed that they are easily distinguishable. From the staff of each residence to the main players, every character is memorable in their own way. The importance of female friendship is such a strong theme, and the unification of two lonely souls finding friendship in such an isolated time and place feels especially timely during these pandemic years.
Rose’s relationships and experience traveling from Britain to Australia in 1940 are the primary focus of the story. I love the balance of relationships, with her relationships with Walter and new friends Esme and Kate just as well-developed as the romantic plot. The slow-burn romantic story woven into the narrative adds even more to love about this book.
All of the locations are wonderfully depicted. The setting descriptions are realistic and make the reader feel as though they are there, sitting in the waving grass beneath the shining sun, watching Rose and Walter head off on a walk. Ashcroft strikes the perfect balance of action and description, making the reading experience immersive.
Though the main topics of this novel are heavy with war, loss, and fear as a constant undercurrent, there is such humor, love, and hope spread throughout that make it utterly irresistible. It is through Rose’s relationships that we see her truly blossom and come into her own, and what a treat it is to witness. The overall message of hope and love leave the reader feeling sated despite the heavier moments.
Thank you to author Jenny Ashcroft, St. Martin's Press, and NetGalley for an advanced copy such that I could share my honest review.
Under the Golden Sun will be available 15 March 2022 from St. Martin’s Press.
I have to confess that I absolutely loved Under the Golden Sun. I loved Jenny Ashcroft's plot, how the plot unfolded, and the characters she created. I hated to put the book down to do anything that I was supposed to be doing. Each character was so carefully defined that I could easily picture them as I read. I was able to put myself into the novel, not as a participant but as an active witness to the events as they occurred. I don't often cry when reading a novel, but Ashcroft had me in tears a couple of times. I Would heartily recommend Under the Golden Sun. I appreciate meeting this author's work for the first time and will look for her other novels. St Martin's Press, who provided me with this ARC, has turned me into a Jenny Ashcroft fan. And a big thank you to NetGalley, too.
Thank you net galley for the advance reader copy of this novel. This was a fantastic WWII historical fiction novel set mainly in Australia. I had tears streaming down my face in reading this as the plight of small Walter really pulled at my heart strings. The author did a fantastic job of including historical details. The romance was clean and sweet. Loved this book!!!
This is a lovely and well-written historical novel set in the Australian Outback during WWII. The characters were well-portrayed and the descriptive writing outstanding. I could not put this down. Highly recommended.
I've read very few books set in Australia during WWII so I was very excited to dig into this story. The primary character in the story, Rose Hamilton, responds to an ad for a companion to accompany a child to Australia named Walter. Because she feels stuck in a rut with her fiance and her job, she decides to take the leap and do it. The journey is full of rich details, and it's clear the author put in extensive work to make sure everything is accurate and facts add to the quality of the plot. I have been a fan of the author's prior work and she knocks it out of the park yet again this time. The dialogue is rich and does not detract from the plot, nor is it slow and plodding. Readers will feel many emotions throughout the course of the story.
I give 4.5 stars to this well-written historical fiction that takes place in Australia during the early years of World War II. The author’s extensive research into the War as well as life in Australia was evident throughout the book—from clothing to food to animals, I really got a sense of what it was like to live on an Australian cattle ranch during that time.
As the book begins, the lead character is recovering from a miscarriage and questioning whether to continue in a relationship with a fiancée who constantly lets her down. While holding war-time position located in the English countryside, she answers an ad to escort 4-year old English-Aborigine orphan named Walter to Australia where they both come to discover and become part of a new family.
I was emotionally caught up in the story filled with engaging well-rounded characters and was happy with how the book ended.
This historical novel transported me to Ilfracombe and London England, Malaysia and Australia. I will say I enjoyed every bit about this novel from the travel, the character development, the WW II setting and the heartwarming storyline.
The story begins in March of 1941 with our main character Rose headed to London to meet her family for her twenty-fifth birthday. Her parents are in Ceylon but she expects to see her Uncle Lionel and brother Joe. The war time shortages are apparent with descriptions of mock eggs and chocolate cake. The cake had prunes and beetroot but when the nation is rationing you celebrate how you can.
Rose is still experiencing grief from a loss and her American fiance Xander isn't exactly the epitome of loving support. Reading a discarded newspaper on her train to London, Rose, on the spur of the moment, answers an advertisement regarding a young boy who is need of a chaperone to Australia. Walter aged four is a lonely but bright little fellow and you'll fall in love with him. Rose goes to the house in London to meet the child and this dramatically changes her life. Walter's mother was from Australia and was recently killed in an accident.
The ship voyage, the strengthening bond between Rosie and Walter and the new family in Australia had me riveted. I loved this book and actually hope the author will add a second book to follow up. I don't want to see these characters go away! The storyline could be picked up with Rose's life, I'd love to know what happens to Walter and so much more.
Publication date March 15, 2022 by St Martin's Press. Genre: Historical Fiction.
Thank you to Netgalley for the advanced reader's copy of this book. I was not compensated for the review, all opinions are mine.
Sharing with Marg at The Intrepid Reader for the 2021 Historical Fiction challenge and Joy's Book Blog for British Isles Friday.
This is my first book by Jenny Ashcroft and I loved it! I enjoy reading historical fiction. This is a beautiful story and beautifully written. It is mostly based in Australia during WWII, that itself is unique as there are not a lot of wartime stories that are from that Continent. A heartwarming story where Rose agrees to escort Walter, a 4 year old boy (orphan) from England to Australia (where his extended family lives). The characters are well developed and very real. As I was reading this book, I felt it could be made into a movie! A bit of family drama, heartache, love, friendship, journey of self discovery, resilience, courage, growth and a happy ending ❤️
Thank you NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for an Advance Reader Copy.
Is “unputdownable” a word? Under The Golden Sun, by Jenny Ashcroft, is a heart warming historical novel with wonderfully likable and unforgettable characters. The writing is magical. The story is epic. If you’ve ever been really bereft that a book ended, this is one of those reads. The dialogue is captivating. I’m going to miss all the people, I’ve come to know, and loved “being around,” in a visceral way. I’ve not read any of Jenny Ashcroft’s prior books, but I look forward to more. I’m grateful to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for granting me this opportunity to read this ARC. Don't miss it!
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