1936 "Hitler has struck," writes Churchill in his diary, "His troops are swarming across the Rhineland.
Now he will know no master but a bullet."
Winston's warnings don't reach Grace' Lamerton's Portsmouth guest-house. She has an errant husband, 5 growing boys, some odd guests, a savage dog, and it's George V's Silver Jubilee.Yet she is closer to the coming war than Churchill himself.
A crazy old guest is found to be a Jewish refugee. Mary Campion,a pretty secretary, has a German boyfriend. But one guest, Hugo Quist, a retired lawyer, keeps his secret. He's an Admiralty counter-espionage agent.
Hugo has Mary followed to the Berlin Olympics, where she is taken hostage by Hitler, while Kurt, her naval boyfriend, renouncing Nazism, is blackmailed into spying on Admiralty radar secrets. Jock, Grace's husband, defects to the Spanish Civil War.
Through an indiscretion by Jock, the boys introduce a remarkable street urchin, Jess Bowmaker, whose influence infiltrates the family. He becomes a major player in the game.
In this rocking boat, all passengers are levelled down.
Except Jess Bowmaker.
This is a long novel at 166K words. But by reading just Chapters 1, 2,3,5 and 32, you can capture its essence and the tone of the Pompey Chimes, a football chant, as they rang out across Europe during those darkening days.
PLAY UP POMPEY!