Thursday 9 November 2017

Battles Lost and Won by Beryl Matthews

    Here’s another book review for you.
Battles Lost and Won by Beryl Matthews (novel downloaded from the McBride Library's OverDrive site)
       This was a novel about two poor neighboring families living near the London docks.  The story begins at the end of World War I.  Both the fathers of the households are still away in the military which has caused a struggle for both families.  One of the families, the Hunters are experiencing especially hard times because the mother is very ill, forcing sixteen year old Bob to work on the dock in an attempt to provide food and shelter. But his job is lost as the war ends and returning soldiers are given the jobs and he is laid off. 
      Bob is very stressed because of his ailing mother and convinces himself all will be well once his father returns from the war.  It is a great shock to him when it finally happens and he discovers the war has made his father a helpless drunk. When Bob comes home from a temporary job and discovers his mother has died and his father still drunk, passed out in his chair, Bob loses all respect and hope for his father. 
      Luckily his neighbors, the Coopers, whose father has now returned, take control of things and organize the funeral, and look after Bob, who is still furious at his father. A few days after the funeral, Bob just packs up and leaves without telling anyone where he is going.  This distresses everyone, especially young Ruthie Cooper, Bob's best friend and Alf, Bob's  father, who is so hurt at his son's abandonment that with the Cooper's help, goes "cold turkey" and kicks his alcohol problem. 
       When runaway Bob arrives for a morning interview for a job as a stable hand, he finds the wealthy owner of the manor drinking and is so disgusted, he verbally chastises the owner, telling him his drinking will destroy his family. This impresses Capt. Russell who as a result of Bob's scolding, does stop his drinking, and hires Bob for the stable. The captain feels an obligation to help Bob for having urged him to stop his drinking, that he secretly goes and finds Bob's father to tell him Bob is safe. Upon discovering this, Bob goes stupid and leaves the manor for places unknown. 
       Captain Russell, during his visit with Bob's father sought to help both of the neighboring London families and offered Ruthie a job as a maid. She later arrives at the manor, anxious to see Bob again, only to discover he has left. She takes the job though to help her family, and like Bob, impresses the Russell family with her skills.  A jealous housekeeper who felt she should have gotten Ruthie's job, steals a ruby broach and plants it under Ruthie's pillow. Despite Ruthie's plea of innocence she is not believed and is fired and returns home. 
      Her undeserved firing and accusations of theft enrages her father Steve Cooper, who travels to the manor confronts the Captain and this eventually results in the truth about who the real thief is.  Steve, like Bob and Ruthie before, impresses the Captain who tries to be generous and make things right, but like Bob and Ruthie, Steve is too proud and pig-headed to accept the Captain's offers. 
      Bob in the meantime has taken a job as a physical therapist in a veterans' hospital, learning the skills and working to help wounded soldiers.  Back in London, Steve helps Alf, Bob's still sober father, write about his war experiences from the diary he had kept.  It becomes a successful book which allows Alf to buy a house as an investment.  Things seem to be improving for the two families when tragedy hits. 
       Will Bob ever return home and reconcile with his father?  Will Captain Russell ever be able to help the two prideful London families?  Will Bob's new skills as a physical therapist ever come in handy?  Will Ruthie and Bob ever become best friends again?  I guess you will just have to read the book. 

When I'm not reading, I paint.  See my works at:

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