In Paul Taylor’s novel When Robins Sing, a woman struggles to protect her family and realize her own dreams in the swirl of WWII.
The novel’s British heroine, Estelle Stanforth, has moved from her small town of Pendlethorpe to the city to pursue her medical training, even as war encroaches. On a visit home to see her mother – her beloved father is career military and already on maneuvers — she runs into Duncan Metcalf, an old school chum. They fall in love and marry, even though Duncan has joined the Royal Air Force. Shortly thereafter, Estelle’s world spirals out of control. Her father is reported missing and killed in action, and Duncan’s plane is shot down. Duncan returns home badly injured, blind and in despair, and Estelle must re-think her goals, hold her family together and give Duncan hope for the future.
When Robins Sing is vanilla ice cream fare: pleasant and soothing with no surprises. There’s no new ground covered here; WWII is simply a device to fuel the plot. It could be any war, any place. There are no telling details or dialogue to cement the locale. It’s not even clear whether Estelle’s medical studies are taking place in London or another big city.
What propels the story is the author’s writing style, so smooth that readers effortlessly glide through Estelle and Duncan’s trials and tribulations. When Estelle and her friend Pamela are caught in a bomb explosion that injures them and destroys Pamela’s house, Estelle comforts Pamela with light banter before the incident is quickly forgotten. “One chapter closes on your life and another one opens. Come on, let’s go shopping. All we’ve got to wear is what we stand up in, and we can’t travel around in our tattered party frocks forever.”
This is WWII-lite. Fans of romance novels will find this frothy confection a satisfying diversion, even knowing that everything will come out right for our plucky heroine in the end.
Also available in hardcover and ebook.