Our Last Goodbye by Shirley Dickson
1943, England: On a foggy night during the blackout, twenty-five-year-old May Robinson’s mother is tragically killed. Heartbroken, May isn’t sure she has the strength to harbour the secret she has kept for so many years – a secret her mother devoted her life to hiding, that would tear their broken family even further apart.
Vowing to make her mother proud, May trains to be a nurse at Edgemoor General hospital in South Shields, against a backdrop of wailing air-raid sirens and the eternal drone of enemy planes. Tending to wounded, ashen-faced soldiers, fighting to save lives, May is immediately drawn to kind-hearted Richard Bentley, who works tirelessly alongside her. He has sparkling brown eyes, and makes her laugh.
In the darkest of days, amongst death and despair, May and Richard are beacons of hope for one another. But why isn’t he fighting in the war like thousands of other brave young men?
May knows how she longs to escape her own past, and her mother’s. In this perilous time of such uncertainty, she finds herself asking – how well do they really know each other? And when the shocking truth of May’s secret comes to light, just as the war comes too close to home, can their love survive the impossible?
It doesn’s say in the blurb but as soon as I started reading the book I knew that I recognised the characters from a previous book which I reviewed called The Orphan Sisters.
This novel works fine as a standalone, Shirley Dickson does a great job of bringing the reader up to speed. However, I do recommend that you read the first one because it is just too good to miss.
Devastated by the loss of her mother and abandoned by her father, May Robinson is then given some news by friend Etty, which totally rocks her to the core.
Refusing to give up she sets out to make her mother proud and enrolls to become a nurse. However, choosing a nursing career in 1940s Britain with World War Two in full swing is not an easy option. May witnesses some horrific injuries which break her heart, but under strict regulations, she is forbidden to show any emotion towards the injured soldiers.
I loved reading about the strict regimes the nurses had to adhere to. Starched uniforms and lights out at ten thirty, forbidden to be seen in public fraternising with the opposite sex and hardly any time off. It must have been a true vocation for these young girls to proceed in such a demanding career.
May’s love life isn’t any less complicated, she seems to attract the wrong sort of man. She always sees the best in people and refuses to be swayed by gossip and other people’s opinions. Perhaps May’s refusal to judge others came about because she herself hides a devastating secret, one that she promised her mother she would keep.
The book is so well researched you really get a feeling of war-torn Britain. The characters are diverse. some quite nasty, but May herself remains kind, compassionate and good-hearted. Her character grows with strength and confidence and I admired her resilience and refusal to be worn down. The story builds to an enthralling conclusion which had me reaching for the tissues and desperately wanting to know MORE!
If you love WWII sagas with a strong main female character, an entertaining plot and beautiful writing, this one is for you.
She lives under the big skies of Northumberland with her husband, family and lucky black cat.
She wrote her first short story at the age of ten for a magazine competition. She didn’t win but was hooked on writing for a lifetime.
For many years she wrote poetry and short stories and got many rejection slips.
Shirley decided to get serious about writing novels when she retired.
She signed with Bookouture in 2018 for a two-book deal. She has written two stirring World War Two historical novels.
Shirley says she is a prime example of ‘never give up on your dream.’
Follow Shirley on her Facebook ‘Shirley Dickson Author’ page.