Chapter Book – Searching for Shona

As the inhabitants of WWII Edinburgh prepare to evacuate their children to keep them safe, privileged but lonely Marjorie strikes up a friendship with the bold orphan Shona. Marjorie is dismayed when she finds she’s to be evacuated to cousins she has never met in Canada, and, in a moment of uncharacteristic recklessness, offers to switch places with Shona, who is about to be evacuated to the countryside. Marjorie almost immediately regrets her decision, but the die has been cast, and she is left to pretend to be Shona for the next six years.

I enjoyed this cute light tale, but I can see why it is not more widely known. I could suspend disbelief for the switch itself, but Marjorie’s reaction is rather unrealistic. Her biggest concern seems to be that Shona will be upset that she can’t investigate her family tree while in Canonbie. This from a shy, retiring girl who is used to having the best of everything and is now suddenly penniless without the slightest ability to return to her former life.

I’m a sucker for evactuated-from-the-Blitz stories (the best of which is Goodnight, Mr. Tom) so I still enjoyed the story, particularly the interactions with the sisters who take in Shona and another orphan. The book ended somewhat abruptly, however. We’re with Shona for about a year, and then suddenly it’s six years later and the war has ended. I appreciated the neat wrap up, but there could have been more lead-up to help us understand why Marjorie is so accepting of her fate in the end.


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