Having very much enjoyed Intrusion, the first in Rosalind Minett’s Relative Invasion trilogy set in the Second World War (which I reviewed here), I was keen to read the sequel, Infiltration, and I am pleased to report that I enjoyed this one even more than the first.
When I say enjoyment, there is an edge to the pleasure to be had from this book, because the close third-person narrative, in sympathy with Billy Wilson, the young hero, made me feel so bound up in his progress that I felt his anxieties and his pains very deeply, though also shared his pleasure in his hard-earned triumphs – even though he is rendered so under-confident by his blinkered parents that he hardly dare credit himself with any positive achievements at all.
Happier Billet This Time
I was mightily relieved, then, when his second episode of being evacuated finds him not only back in the village where he was so happy with the impoverished Mrs Youlden and her two small children who adore him, but this time billeted with a kindly farmer and his wife, the Pawseys, where both affection and food are in plentiful supply. His best friend, Alan, another evacuee, also returns there.
Different challenges face young Billy, but bolstered by his new quasi-family, he grows stronger in mind and body, despite continued dreadful treatment from his blood relatives, including his cousin Kenneth, who threatens to usurp his place in his parents’ hearts.
Growing Self-Assurance for Billy – and the Author
As with the first book in the series, the handling of character is masterful (no surprise to discover that Rosalind Minett is a qualified psychologist), and the sense of time and place is meticulously created, without the historical facts ever becoming obtrusive. Giving the date and news headline at the start of each chapter was a clever way of setting the immediate context without having to force it historical details into the narrative.
It struck me that as the series continues, the author’s self-assurance is growing, with the narrative more consistently sustained in this book – I was utterly absorbed in it.
I’m now looking forward to the final book in the series, though with apprehension about the inevitable obstacles that will hamper young Billy’s journey towards adulthood and happiness.
Highly Recommended for…
Highly recommended for anyone who enjoys good character-driven historical fiction or who is interested in the social history of the Second World War in the UK. (GIs also feature in this volume, providing extra interest for US readers.)