“A well-written and deeply satisfying book, packed with information and adventure. Above all, a damn good read!” – Damien Lewis, author of Hunting The Nazi Bomb
John Monro MC never mentioned his Second World War experiences, leaving his daughter Mary with unresolved mysteries when he died in 1981. He fought at the Battle of Hong Kong, made a daring escape across Japanese-occupied China and became Assistant Military Attaché in Chongqing. Caught up in Far East war strategy, he proposed a bold plan to liberate the PoWs he’d left behind before fighting in Burma in 1944. But by the time Mary was born he’d become a Shropshire farmer, revealing nothing of his heroic past.
Thirty years after his death and prompted by hearing him described as a ‘20th Century great’, Mary began her quest to explore this stranger she’d called ‘Dad’. Stranger In My Heart skilfully weaves poignant memoir with action-packed biography and travels in modern China in a reflective journey that answers the question we all eventually ask ourselves: ‘Who am I?’
Stranger In My Heart is a fascinating book that follows Mary as she tries to find out about her father’s WW2 experience and his heroic actions that he was awarded a Military Cross for. As with many people from his generation he didn’t talk much about his war experience so, after losing him at a young age, Mary was determined to find out more about her father.
For me I loved the historical element of this story. The second world war is one of my favourite periods in time and I’m always excited to discover new elements of it that I didn’t know much about before. I knew little about the war in Hong Kong & China so I found the chapters detailing her father’s experience there very fascinating. Mary cleverly breaks up the history with passages from her father’s diary which gives the narrative a much more personal feel and means that you feel like you know her dad personally.
Although this is an autobiography it doesn’t seem like one as Mary adopts an easy style of writing that isn’t too fact heavy making it an easy, gripping read. Maps, pictures and excerpts from her father’s diary helps break up the text and increased my understanding but also my enjoyment of the story.
It would have been easy for this to turn into a gushing story about her father but Mary doesn’t do that. Instead she just presents the facts to the reader to decide for themselves, although there is no question as to whether her father was a hero- he definitely was. The hardships and tragedy soldiers had to go through is unbelievable to read about and I have the utmost respect for everyone who fought!
This is the first book that Mary has written and I hope she was write more as she has a great style of writing that makes history very interesting.
Huge thanks to Anne Cater for my copy of this book and for inviting me onto the blog tour.
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