The Chalky Sea by Clare Flynn #TBConFB @clarefly


Two troubled people struggle to find their way in a turbulent world.
In July 1940, Gwen Collingwood drops her husband at the railway station, knowing she may never see him again. Two days later her humdrum world is torn apart when the sleepy English seaside town where she lives is subjected to the first of many heavy bombing attacks.

In Ontario, Canada, Jim Armstrong is debating whether to volunteer. His decision becomes clear when he uncovers the secret his fiancée has been keeping from him. A few weeks later he is on a ship bound for England.

Gwen is forced to confront the truth she has concealed about her past and her own feelings. Jim battles with a bewildering and hostile world far removed from the cosy life of his Canadian farm. War brings horror and loss to each of them – can it also bring change and salvation?



I must say that I am not a big lover of history books but I am fascinated with books set around the war years. There was such a tremendous innocence about the whole idea of fighting for ones King and Country. It was glorified sending off young men into a reality that was nothing like they were equipped or prepared for. Many dying on the first days they were fighting. Canadian volunteers were flown over to train to fight, although rarely used and stationed eventually at Eastbourne, one of the heaviest  bombed places throughout the war. Two of these soldiers were estranged brothers, Jim and Walt Armstrong, farmers from Ontario.

When Gwen Collingwood’s husband Roger went off to do his bit for the war effort, she soon volunteered herself to help round the town and discovered that the local poorer folk were far less reserved in all matters than she was. Being more of the middle upper class, Gwen had been raised to keep all of her emotions well under control. What she had thought were duties to be endoured in the  bedroom as little as possible, these women found pleasure. To say that this left her feeling confused and dare I say a wee bit wanting would be an understatement.  Circumstances soon had it that the she wouldn’t be living in her big house on her own much longer. The lodgers she took in were to open her eyes into another world.

What I loved about Clare Flynn’s book was the changes that took place with the characters. It made the people more open and honest, talking and taking opportunities as they came up. Life got a value back in Eastbourne because here they knew that anyone could die any day. It seemed that every sense was awakened and heightened. Unlikely friendships were made that would have been unthinkable just a few years earlier. The friendships that formed crossed the barriers of class with life being the greatest commodity one could have.

This is a heartfelt story, beautifully told. There is also additional facts about Eastbourne through the war years in the back of the book.



Award-winning author, Clare Flynn is a former global marketing director. She lives on the south coast of England. Her first novel, A Greater World, set in the Blue Mountains of Australia in the 1920s, was awarded an Indie BRAG Medallion in 2015. Kurinji Flowers, a gripping story of love and loss set in colonial India on a tea plantation in the 1930s and 40s, also gained a BRAG Award in 2015. Letters from a Patchwork Quilt, achieved a 5 Star Medallion from Readers’ Favorite. The Green Ribbons is set in rural England in 1900 and has also been honoured with a coveted BRAG Medallion. She is currently at work on the sequel to The Chalky Sea, set in Canada in the aftermath of the war. All Clare’s novels feature places she knows well and she does extensive research to build the period and geographic flavour of her books. Clare is fluent in Italian and loves spending time in Italy. In her spare time she likes to quilt, paint and travel as often and as widely as possible. Clare is an active member of the Historical Novel Society, the Romantic Novelists Association, The Society of Authors and the Alliance of Independent Authors.


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