Thursday 4 April 2024

Emma's Review: The Wartime Vet by Ellie Curzon

Reviewed by Emma Crowley

Despite everyone telling her it’s not a suitable career for a woman, Laura has worked hard to become a successful livestock vet. And she’s not afraid to serve her country in the village of Bramble Heath, where she and the land girls care for animals and protect the crops everyone relies on during the darkest days of the war. But, just when the country is most in need of food, the farms of the village come under attack…

Desperate to figure out who among the villagers could be doing such terrible things even while German bombs rain down, Laura is relieved when the Ministry respond to her requests for help. But the man they send isn’t what she expects. Commander Alastair Seaton is quiet, with a soft, kind smile. And she can’t help but be drawn to his shining brown eyes.

But as they start to open up to each other about past heartbreak, disaster strikes. A farm has been set alight. While Laura hurriedly gathers water to fight the flames, Alistair rushes into the burning barn to make sure no one is trapped inside. Will Alistair make it out alive? And can Laura figure out who is behind these attacks before they threaten the outcome of the war?

Book Links: Kindle or Paperback

Many thanks to Bookouture via NetGalley for my copy of The Wartime Vet to review and to Sharon for having my review on the blog.

The Wartime Vet is the second book in the A Village at War series written by Ellie Curzon which is actually two authors writing together. Not that I would have known or actually thought this only for I saw it mentioned in the end notes as the writing is seamless and doesn’t feel disjointed. You’d never know what sections each person wrote. I did read the first book in the series, The Ration Book Baby and really enjoyed it but for some reason the second book, The Spitfire Girl escaped my attention but I was glad to return to the familiar setting of Bramble Heath and to meet some old and new characters. 

I love the cover for this one as I think it’s really striking, and I was keen to read something a little bit different set during World War Two as I’d never read anything about a vet during this time before. Admittedly, I was a little apprehensive starting this one as I felt I may have missed out by not reading book two but this can easily be read as a standalone. In fact, within the first few chapters I had fun trying to work out who maybe had featured in book two and what the storyline might have been. But soon, I was completely engrossed in this new story and I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed it and I found myself racing through the pages eager to discover who the culprit was.

Spring 1941 and Laura is travelling from Coventry leaving the devastation she experienced and witnessed there to move to Bramble Heath to take up her new position as an assistant vet to Charles Morgan as his son is away fighting in the war. Laura is welcomed to the village with open arms and she is looking forward to working with the local farmers and Land Girls to help keep their livestock fit and healthy in order to keep the nation fed in its darkest hours. Iris is her landlady who has two small children and her husband is away fighting. She is kind and caring and develops a close friendship with Laura. 

After the first chapter we move forward to Spring 1942 and Laura is settled in the village and is very popular. I adored Laura from beginning to end. Firstly because it was so refreshing to see a woman working in a male dominated world and doing so successfully and secondly because boy was she a grafter. She never seemed to stop from morning to night and the care of the animals was always at the forefront of her mind and of the utmost importance. She knew that having things working well from the ground up was what was essential to the war effort. For without the farmers and the animals and the work they did it could have been disastrous for England as a whole no matter how successful the men were away fighting. 

So when all that is thrown into peril through the actions of someone unknown, Laura was certainly not going to rest on her laurels until the culprit was caught. She is called out to a farm where Land Girls work alongside the farmer and quickly discovers that several cows have appeared to have been poisoned but luckily, she is able to save them. Several events like this follow with some more disastrous consequences than others, along with other numerous other unusual and dangerous events that have the residents of the village up in arms and seriously worried.They are anxious that someone, an outsider maybe or perhaps someone local amongst them in the village has betrayed their country and gone to the dark side when they should be loyal and steadfast to England. Laura throughout this process of mystery, investigation and intrigue truly demonstrated her grit, strength and determination and never wavered no matter the obstacles and at times doubt and disbelief that was thrown in her direction.

Laura comes up against stiff opposition when she thinks she knows what is causing the poisonings and the animals to fall ill but Charles her boss pays little heed to what she has to say. So she writes to the Department of Agriculture in the hopes that they will take her issues seriously and will try and take action to locate the culprit and put a stop to their awful actions. Containing and halting the felon is of the utmost importance. For the longer they are free to continue with these deeds the greater the consequences will be if they are allowed to continue and they could become more widespread. Charles, I have to say was so ignorant. He left most of the work to Laura only picking and choosing the select jobs that suited him or else he hid himself away reading the paper. Overall he was just so rude and looked down on Laura I would think simply because she was a woman. He never believed her when she came to him with details as to what appeared to be going on at the farms surrounding the village. He took no interest in her concerns and what it could mean for the village and the wider country as a whole. To say he was sexist and judgemental was a complete understatement and I just wanted to punch him when he continued endlessly belittling her no matter that she was right. 

Intentionally harming animals and putting food supplies at risk is no laughing matter and soon Commander Alastair Seaton arrives from the Ministry of Agriculture to try and put things in order. Laura and himself make an incredible team but there are lots of questions surrounding Alastair. Namely why he is no longer commander of a ship and why do so many rumours swirl about him? I liked Alastair though. He had a strong presence about him and an air of formality that I knew Laura could break through if she tried. I enjoyed how through common sense and trial and error the pair worked together.As to who the culprit was. Well, I hadn’t it figured out at all and I love when that happens because I really enjoy being surprised. It showed how well plotted and exciting the entire book was and I know it will delight World War Two saga fans.

The Wartime Vet was a gorgeous and engaging read. It was homely and comforting and an easy read with a good mystery at its centre. I loved the relaxed, natural writing style and the community feel of everyone knowing everyone within the village of Bramble Heath. Therefore they always looked out for and stood by each other throughout the good times and bad that come with the perils of war. Ellie Curzon wished to salute the men and women who kept the home fires burning and the people and animals of Britain safe and they certainly did this to perfection within this wonderful and heart-warming story. I could just see this book perhaps even the series as a tv drama series comparable to All Creatures Great and Small. I feel it would make ideal Sunday night time viewing and set us perfectly for the week ahead. I would definitely recommend The Wartime Vet as Laura, the villagers and the Land Girls along with many more made for a read that had intrigue, danger, suspense and romance.It certainly made for a very pleasant few hours of reading for me.

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