I've just discovered Tom Wakefield. I don't know why I've never come across him before and I can't remember now how I learned about him. I started out reading "Lot's Wife." I'm not done with it yet, but this one came in at the library before I'd finished that one and I thought I'd take a glance at it, but then I was instantly hooked and put "Lot's Wife" on the back burner for the moment.
A series of vignettes about his early childhood in a mining village during and after WWII, these stories bring to life his family and the many people who are part of his life. the word that comes to mind most when thinking about Wakefield's style is tender. He's not Pollyanna-ish in any way, but he treats each person with such dignity and acceptance, even those with deep flaws, that it's hard not to follow suit. He believes in the integrity and goodness of people, despite how they might seem on the surface. I love the story of the two lesbians in his village who play on the local darts team with the men. It's understood that it's not safe for them to play at "away" games, but they are loved and respected at home. If some other team comes and loses, and then makes nasty comments to the women, the locals, especially the women, come to their defense. Other stories I enjoyed were the one about him befriending an Italian POW, the one about the love his quiet and hard-working father has for his pigeons, and the one about his mother's response to VE day. There is darkness under the surface in some of these stories, darkness as viewed by a child who senses it but doesn't fully understand the complexities of the adult world. There are also wonder, and joy, and passion.
I was sad when the book was over. I've begun "War Paint," and I can see that it's helpful to have read "Forties' Child" before Wakefield's other books because it's fun to see who he uses real people and events from his past in his fiction. Highly recommend.