Love at War
Sandra Howard will be talking about the tensions and challenges facing Laura, the heroine of the story, who is determined to chase after Harry, a young man she has fallen for. It is 1940, the Second World War is well under way, and Harry, out in Uganda doing forestry, has joined up to play his part in the war. Laura boards a liner carrying troops and bound for Egypt, braving the torpedoed waters of the Mediterranean in her wistful hope of eventually reaching Uganda and seeing him again.
Based on a true story and Howard will talk of its provenance, her meeting with the son of her principal characters who was content for her to fictionalise his parents’ story and has since read and enjoyed the book.
She will speak of the heartbreaks and difficulties of women living in those times. It was a man’s world, a society that allowed young women, and certainly married women, little freedom and independence; it is a vanished world, the world of the colonial British living in Africa.
Laura has enlightened parents, is able to travel and has just spent two very sobering years in Germany immediately before the war, studying the theories of Rudolf Steiner. She is home in Edinburgh again when war is declared and with a degree in music, fluent German and French, manages to get a job with an American Mission School in Cairo as a stepping stone to Uganda. Laura is a beautiful innocent in a sophisticated city and soon falls in love, suffering deeply when her war correspondent lover goes home to join up. She carries on teaching, wise, sadder and with her eyes more open to the ways of the world.
When Harry eventually proposes. They marry knowing very little about each other and have only weeks together before he is sent North with his battalion. Laura is left pregnant and alone in Nairobi then for a year and a half. She struggles financially, has the hardships of war to face and a horrifying, emotionally scarring experience that she cannot divulge to a soul, such are the times. More sadness comes her way, although there is a twist of fate when the war is over and she finally returns home and the story ends on a note of hope. This book is about love and relationships in times of great hardship, spanning two continents and many lives.