cover image The Call of the Wrens

The Call of the Wrens

Jenni L. Walsh. HarperMuse, $17.99 trade paper (368p) ISBN 978-1-4002-3388-5

Walsh (Becoming Bonnie) offers an enticing story of two Englishwomen serving their country during both world wars. In 1917, Marion Hoxton ages out of the orphanage she was raised in and joins the Women’s Royal Naval Service (the “Wrens”), while her best friend Eddie Smith joins the Royal Navy. As they each make their way toward the front lines in France, their friendship develops into romance. Meanwhile, Marion works as a dispatch rider and helps her new friend Sara train carrier pigeons to send and retrieve messages. In a parallel narrative set in 1940, well-to-do Evelyn Fairchild joins the Wrens, desperate to prove she’s overcome a childhood disability impacting one of her legs by serving as a motorcycle driver. Evelyn and Marion’s paths cross when Marion returns to be a leader in the new Wrens, her romance with Eddie having turned out not as they’d hoped. Marion also harbors a secret about Evelyn’s true parentage, as Evelyn’s parents failed to disclose she was adopted. Walsh expertly contrasts the lives of orphaned Marion with privileged Evelyn to expose their common desire to show their value outside societal labels. Historical fiction fans will be riveted. Agent: Shannon Hassan, Marsal Lyon Literary Agency. (Nov.)