The main character, Daisy, is a fifteen year old girl from New York. Her mother died when she was born, and her father’s new, pregnant girlfriend hates Daisy and all she stands for. Poor Daisy is shipped off to spend the summer with some cousins and an aunt she’s never met, somewhere in the countryside in England. Daisy falls in love with her new family, as did I. Little Piper, especially, is so sweet and loving that I wanted to adopt her. The rest of the family is just the opposite of what Daisy has been living with back home: warm, gentle, caring. Their constant offers of tea remind me of my husband’s family. And the way they paid attention to who Daisy really is as a person, which was novel for her, is so endearing.
Unfortunately, war strikes. Daisy’s aunt is in Oslo giving a presentation when it happens, so she’s trapped there. The children (the oldest, I think, is 16) are left on their own. For a while, it’s idyllic, isolated as they are out in the country. But eventually, adults figure out they’re alone, so they’re separated, and then they’re up close and personal with the war.
I agree with Dewey--the thing that so drives this book are the characters. As Daisy falls in love with her cousins, you do too. You want to go off and live with them in the English country-side with their lambs and dogs and gardens. And her cousins are all psychic--which sounds corny, but it isn't--which means they understand her right away. (What? You mean everyone doesn't dream of lambs and dogs and gardens and cousins who understand you?) At first the war almost feels like a joke, but then all of a sudden it gets very real, leading to the climax of the book--which I don't want to spoil by writing about it here.