Fiction

The Walls We Build by Jules Hayes

About the book

Three Friends. Two Secrets. One Hidden Life.

Disastrous choices and heartbreaking consequences, but a love that endures a lifetime.

Growing up around Winston Churchill’s country estate in Kent, Frank, Florence and Hilda are inseparable, but when Frank marries Hilda for duty rather than love, the three friends’ lives fragment.

As WW2 begins to cast its menacing shadow Frank goes on to make other catastrophic choices – the repercussions of which will leave a tragic legacy.

For over fifty years Florence has been the keeper of Frank’s secrets, but soon after his death in 2002 she writes to his grandson, Richard, hinting at his family’s troubled past. Richard digs further and unearths disturbing secrets that not only haunted his grandad, but will impact on him too.

When a pivotal encounter between Frank and Churchill during WW2 is revealed and a mystery relative in a psychiatric hospital discovered, how much more does Florence dare disclose about her and Frank?  And is Richard ready to hear?

Spanning three generations comes a multi-layered and sumptuously atmospheric story showing how – sometimes – the only way forward is through the past.

What I thought

After seeing this book shared on Twitter and it being, at the time, on a limited time offer of free I put it on my Kindle and began reading it. Described as an intriguing story I thought it sounded good from the description. However, I’d started reading it between Netgalley books back in June. As is often the case it got pushed aside in order to read books with a publishing deadline date. I’d got to just under halfway through and then abandoned it until just a couple of weeks ago in December.

I’d remembered pretty much the gist of the plot so far when I picked it up again with the intention to finish it. I remembered it as quite a dark story with characters who were far from happy. I remembered most of the characters, but even at the time of reading back in June I was often confused as to who was related to whom, so the fact I’d left it so long between reads didn’t make that much difference to me. Having now reached the end of the book however, I do regret not having read it all at one go. It is such a profound story, it’s a great disservice to have left it half read for so long.

I’m not even going to get into the plot. There are so many twists and turns, especially towards the end and so incredibly sad. I love the way Winston Churchill has been given a part in the book, he is one of the characters who is instrumental to the plot and yet it’s purely fiction. I wonder what he would think, if he could read it now himself. Would he agree with the thoughts and actions of his fictional alter ego? A very clever integration of a real person presented in a piece of fiction. I’m sure he would be proud.

I did enjoy the second half of the book much more. I was less confused about who was who and seemed to have a much better understanding of what had gone on than I did in the first half. There are so many revelations, heartbreaking moments and tragedy.

Basically the failure of families to talk, the keeping of secrets, shying away from difficult subjects all culminates in life long feelings of guilt for some, and deep held resentment for others. A terrible waste of life, which could have been so different if only people talked to each other about their struggles.

I loved this book and I am so glad I got to finish it eventually. If you like a good family drama, told over many years with complex characters and a raft of secrets to be revealed then I’m sure you will enjoy it as much as I did. It’s definitely 5 stars from me.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

♥ Happy Reading ♥


This book is available from Amazon on Kindle and in paperback.

Jules Hayes has a new book due to publish on 15 March 2021 called The Spanish Girl, another historical fiction book that goes back to the Spanish Civil War. I’m sure it will be equally compelling. Here’s the link to Amazon

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