London, 1936Ill and stuck in hospital at Christmas, seven year old Cora Kelly is excited to receive a visit from her mother, who brings her the gift of a gingerbread man. But little does Cora know that this will be the last time she sees her . . .As Cora continues her recovery on a farm in the beautiful Norfolk countryside, tragedy strikes her family and she moves back to London with her new guardian, Eliza.
Here they live a happy, if simple, life. But, as the Second World War approaches, and the past comes knocking, everything changes.
Will Cora be able to escape the inevitable, or is she destined to repeat her parent’s mistakes?
My Review: The Gingerbread Girl by Sheila Newberry is a family drama following two female characters through several years of their lives including WWII. It is the story of is the story of Eliza and Cora. We follow Cora and Eliza as Cora grows up, they experience the war, love, and loss. When I started reading this book I thought it was a middle grades novel, but that is not the case. This book has many situations that are more suited for Young Adults or Adults.
AS the story begins, Cora Kelly is seven years old and is getting released from the hospital after an eight month stay for diphtheria. While in the hospital, her mother was able to sneak her a gift, a gingerbread cookie, which she never ate, it was kept as a reminder of her mother. On the day of her release, her mother’s best friend, Eliza Quinn, picks her up and takes her to her aunt’s farm to finish recuperating. She finds out that her mother has been hospitalized. Cora enjoys her stay on the farm and Ginny Brookes and her two sons Mal and Jimmy become like a second family to Cora. When Cora is ready to return home, Eliza comes to get her. Cora is devastated to learn that her mother, Biddy, has died shortly after giving birth to her second daughter, Deidre (Dede). At her father, Bertie, left the family while she was young with only ocassional visits, Eliza becomes their foster mother. Eliza is a housekeeper for Mr. Norton and his son, Neville, who own a bakery. Mr. Norton is a retired baker and the son has taken over the business. Several years later, when things are going well and they are just like a real family, Bertie shows up. He wants to get to know his daughter, Cora. Eliza does not tell him that Dede is his daughter, but allows him to spend time with Cora. Will Cora give him an opportunity to be a father? What happens when war breaks out in Europe? Will Eliza and Cora find love? Join Eliza and Cora in see what life has in store for them.
This was an interesting story that I enjoyed. This was a simple, easy read, but one that I was able to put down. It was very different to read about the impact in England of the Second World War, as that is not a perspective that is often written about. The various evacuations for cities to the country, the closing of schools, the bomb shelters etc. were very real and the emotions of the characters were genuine. I would recommend this book to both adults and highschool students looking for a historical fiction story taking place in England during this time. The publisher generously provided me with a copy of this book via Netgalley.