Posted in Book Review, Books I have read

The Last Boat – John F Hanley

Before I moved to Jersey, like every other child in the British Isles I learnt a lot about World War II in history lessons, but I never realised that the Channel Islands were occupied by the Germans.  This happened when it was deemed by Ministry of War that the islands were indefensible. Now it may be that I wasn’t paying attention being more concerned with growing the hole in the sleeve of my jumper or whispering to my friends but I was truly surprised that it hadn’t been mentioned (I was quite good at and very interested in history)

Living here the signs of the occupation are still around and whenever we have guests to stay we go to the War Tunnels which demonstrates what life was like in the islands at that time.  Jersey War Tunnels

This means that being offered a free book to review which centres on the very cusp of that time, June to July 1940, is always going to be a fascinating read, but there is so much more to this book than familiar surnames and place names (although I love that part too)

Historical Fiction 4*'s
Historical Fiction
4*’s

So here is my review:

The Last Boat is the sequel to Against the Tide and as the reader I was plunged straight back into Jack Renouf and his adventures along with all the other characters met in the first book. In all honesty I hadn’t realised how much I missed them all. The Last Boat brings an extra depth to these characters, Jack himself is a year older, a little wiser but still a young man with a lot to learn about life, love and himself.

The book starts in France in June 1940, Jack having left his studies due to the war is involved in the rescue of some of the thousands of Allied soldiers from the beaches around Dunkirk. This book has switched from swimming to sailing, the timings of the tides become crucial to the various missions that litter the pages as Jack begins to realise what type of man he really is. I found myself much more involved with the characters, I actually shed a tear before I was halfway through the book as actions and decisions in the past begin to have very real consequences in the present.

Living in Jersey and having often thought about the sheer enormousness of the decision the locals had to make; to stay and live under German rule or go and leave everything they knew behind, balancing the safety of their loved ones on an uncertain set of scales. John Hanley has done a fantastic job of bringing the scenes to life, those when it was clear the islands could not be defended along with the queues to register for evacuation.

So in conclusion don’t read this without reading Against the Tide, the characters you meet there will explain a lot in this story. Expect a more thoughtful book; the Famous Five mad missions, hiding and carrying out daring deeds, are all still there, but this time the magnitude of what is at stake is far more apparent. I loved it. there is something for everyone within the pages of this book, pure history, the story of a young man finding his way in the world along with some boat-fixing and various other mechanical skills I never knew I wanted to know.

John Hanley has provided some useful timelines and notes at the end of this book which I wish I’d realised whilst reading as they provide answers to some of the questions I had. I was even more delighted to discover that there is to be another episode to find out what happens to Jack and the others.
I received a free copy of this book from the author in return for this honest review.

See my review of the Against the Tide by clicking on the book cover.  I now wish I had asked for a physical book rather than the e-book as the symmetry  in the two covers look amazing.

Against the Tide

Read more about The Last Boat  and John F Hanley from HBS Author’s Spotlight or if you’d like to see a little bit more history regarding the Occupation look at the Jersey War Tunnels