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Pattern of Shadows

(Mary #1)

4.14  ·  Rating details ·  190 ratings  ·  33 reviews
Mary is a nursing sister at a Lancashire prison camp for the housing and treatment of German POWs. Life at work is difficult but fulfilling; life at home a constant round of arguments—often prompted by her fly-by-night sister, Ellen, the apple of her short-tempered father's eye. Then Frank turns up at the house one night—a guard at the camp, he's been watching Mary for wee ...more
Kindle Edition, 276 pages
Published May 20th 2010 by Honno Press (first published January 1st 2010)
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Average rating 4.14  · 
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This is a book perfect for lovers of wartime drama. I enjoyed parts of this book, but parts of it, I loathed, and I found rather twee. The story began well, the characters seemed to be well developed, the world building was satisfactory, and it seemed that the author had done a considerable amount of research for this book. Around halfway through, the plot became rather bland. The pace dramatically slowed down, and I found myself liking the characters less and less. There was something about the ...more
Terry Tyler
Nov 28, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you like family sagas and wartime drama I'd recommend this book. Pattern of Shadows paints a marvellously realistic picture of a working class family of the time, and makes the reader aware how much attitudes and expectations have moved on in the subsequent seventy years. Homophobia, xenophobia, misogyny, violence, rigid prejudices, it's all there! It's obviously very, very well researched, which I always appreciate in a novel of this type.

There are many different story lines as the Howarth f
Jun 17, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I do not usually read family dramas, but as Pattern of Shadows is set in a period of history I find particularly interesting, I decided to give it a go, and I’m pleased I did.
One of the novel’s great strengths is its sense of time and place. The author skilfully paints a portrait of what life must have been like for a working class family during WW2, accurately depicting not just the attitudes and beliefs of those times, but also the little details of day-to-day existence. I got the feeling that

I have to say this reminded me of books I used to read years ago. My regular books, like Katie Flynn and Lynn Andrews, that sort of thing. Even Anna Jacobs. I used to read plenty of books like this so it was lovely to return to the roots of my first reading matter many years ago.

This is centered around the Howard family mostly in the time of the war.
We remember the men who fought for their country but we sometimes forget who 'kept the home fires burning' and worked hard in the fields, drove ambu
Cathy Ryan
Jul 18, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4.5 stars

Pattern of Shadows revolves around the working class Howarth family, particularly Mary who is a nurse at a prisoner of war camp hospital in Lancashire. She is dedicated to, and loves, her job. Home life is another matter entirely. Her father is angry and bitter after his experiences in the First World War, embarrassed and furious at Mary’s brothers. Tom is imprisoned in Wormwood Scrubs for being a conscientious objector and Patrick, a Bevin Boy, forced to work in the mines instead of fi
E.L. Lindley
Jul 29, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
There are so many things to like about Pattern of Shadows; I really don’t know where to start. It’s a testament to Judith Barrow’s skill as a writer that she sets up the tension on the very first page and manages to maintain it until the very last. The backdrop to the story is WW2 but ironically the tension and danger within the story come from much closer to home. Mary is a nurse living and working in a working class community in the north of England and it seems that she is being oppressed fro ...more
Suze Lavender
May 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Mary is a nurse, she works in a POW camp where German doctors are treating the patients. Mary loves her work and it's everything to her. She's also the one who keeps her family going. Her father is aggressive and the situation at home is tense. When she meets Frank she isn't interested in going out with him. He's persistent though, but after a few dates Mary doesn't want to see him any longer. Unfortunately he doesn't take no for an answer...

When a new German doctor arrives the always sensible
Alex Martin
Sep 22, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Beautifully written, realistic depiction of WW2 for ordinary people in extraordinary situations, 12 Sep 2013

Ms Barrow writes fluent and faultless prose. Without any telling of the story we are immersed in the cabbagey terraces of northern England and the tensions that co-exist with the outside lavatories and making do. From the first paragraph you can relax into the book, knowing this is written expertly, that you can trust the research, that this is quality. In some ways its a grim tale - no
I did enjoy this book, it was well-paced and the characters were developed and all had their individual identity.
I would give it 4 stars, but I was bothered by a couple of unnecessary detailed sex scenes (I believe you can make it clear what's happening without having to describe it in details) and especially by the numerous typos and editorial mistakes I found. Don't get me wrong, we all make mistakes and I accept this. However, when it reaches 10+ mistakes, it gets a bit annoying.
If these don
Ritu Bhathal
Dec 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Judith Barrow has spun a fantastic tale about a northern family in the grips of the war, with some extremely sensitive, yet relevant to today issues.
My heart went out to the protagonist, Mary, and all she had to endure, from an awful boyfriend to loving one of the 'enemy', rape and coping with the pregnancy of her unwed sister. All this and dealing with her troubled parents, and a brother who was not only an objector to the war, but stuggling to come to terms with homosexuality.
A meaty read and
Rosie Amber
Mar 29, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Pattern of Shadows is a WW2 historical fiction. Mary Howarth is a nurse in a hospital attached to the Granville German prisoner of war camp, which is near Manchester, Uk.

The story begins in 1944. Mary's brother Tom is a conscientious objector and in prison for his refusal to take part in the war. Her second brother Patrick, is a Bevin Boy, young men conscripted to work in the coal mines during the war to support the country. He's angry at having his choice to fight in Europe taken from him and
Sally Cronin
Dec 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Pattern of Shadows is the first book in the story of the families from a mining community who face the war years and the aftermath with courage, love and also defiance. At the heart of the story is Mary who as a nursing sister combines compassion with pragmatism. She brings comfort to boys far from home who are not only severely wounded but also prisoners of war. However, on the home front there is also a hostile environment between father and son, husband and wives and between lovers.

The charac
D.G. Kaye
Aug 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This engrossing story depicts one family and their struggles to get by in war-time Lancashire, England. Mary, the eldest daughter and protagonist carries the weight of worrying about her siblings: Patrick with a terrible temper, Ellen, her self-centered sister, and Tom her brother in prison for being against the war. Mary is also on guard, protecting her mother from her emotionally and physically abusive father. Mary is a nursing sister in a prisoner hospital. Her compassion extends to the wound ...more
Debbie Young
Aug 21, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a very well-written, gripping read about a northern family's experience of the Second World War, viewed from the Home Front. I liked the format of short chapters, adding to the tension of the narrative, told largely sequentially but with a good balance of flashbacks.

Judith Barrow's narrative very effectively creates a sense of time and place. The interesting cast of convincing characters in believable situations and relationships will have you completely in their thrall. The family at th
Barb Taub
Jun 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
We’ve all read epic family sagas—sweeping multi-generational tales like The Thorn Birds, The Godfather, Roots, the Star Wars franchise, and anything remotely connected to the British Monarchy. So as I read Judith Barrow’s Howarth Family trilogy, I kept trying to slot them into those multigenerational tropes:

*First generation, we were supposed to see the young protagonist starting a new life with a clean slate, perhaps in a new country.
*The next generation(s) are all about owning their position
Christoph Fischer
"Pattern of Shadows" by Judith Barrow is a wonderful gem of a historical novel with a greatly chosen setting.
Mary is a nursing sister at a prison of war camp in the UK during the last years of WWII. Her family often seems at war with each other, particularly Mary and her sister Ellen argue a lot, not least in connection with prison guard Frank, for whom Mary has mixed feelings herself.
The book has really great characters and a complex storyline. Although it is set in war time a lot of the book i
Georgia Rose
May 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a truly wonderful book. Beautifully written this romantic yet heartbreaking love story flows at a perfect pace throughout. I started off thinking one thing only to find my preconceptions wrong as Barrow skilfully leads you through this tale of life at the end of WWII for one young woman, Mary, and her family.

Barrow’s characters are fully rounded and very real and I quickly grew attached feeling empathy for them in the situations they faced throughout this satisfying story. Not wanting th
Heather Burnside
I found this novel a little slow to start but once I was a few chapters in I was engrossed. I used to read a lot of this type of book a few years ago, but where I feel this book differs from others with similar subject matter is in its realistic approach. The characterisation is so strong that I connected with the characters, and felt that their reactions to the situations they were faced with was natural under their specific circumstances. The plot is full of intrigue, and the writing is excell ...more
Juliet Greenwood
I loved this book. The writing was so vivid I felt I was there with the characters living the story with them. I also loved its intelligence. It made me really think about what it was like to live through a war from both sides. Brilliant. I can't praise it enough.
Sandra Danby
Jul 14, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: world-war-two
The first instalment of Judith Barrow’s Mary Howarth series is ‘Pattern of Shadows’, a historical romance set in World War Two Lancashire that explores the challenges and new opportunities for women in wartime. Set against a male-dominated background where the aspirations of working class women have traditionally been put second, war brings change and some people adapt better than others.
Mary is a nursing sister in the hospital attached to a prisoner of war camp, nursing German soldiers captured
Alex Craigie
Jan 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
After a cliffhanger prologue the novel intoduces us to Mary and her life as a nurse in a hospital attached to a POW camp in Lancashire during the latter part of the Second World War. The characters come to life under Judith Barrow's skillful hand and each of them has a unique voice and complex personality - there's no sterotyping here. The tension racks up with each small action and its subsequent effect on both close and fractured relationships. These people are so finely drawn you und
Janet Gogerty
Aug 08, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Sometimes I like to write a review without letting myself glimpse previous reviews, but on the other hand it is so interesting to see what others have written and Goodreads is surely meant to be a very large book club! I enjoyed the author's story telling, the setting very different from the suburban London of my parents' war as young teenagers in modern nineteen thirties terraced houses. ( But just as vulnerable to bombing of course ). Some readers have found Mary's character rather dull, but s ...more
Janice Spina
Jan 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Pattern of Shadows is an unforgettable story of a strong and courageous woman who holds her family together during WWII. Mary is a nurse who must take care of prisoners of war in the hospital. One of the doctors she works with is also a prisoner of war. When their friendship turns to something more serious they find their lives in danger.

Mary finds that she has to deal with a drunk and abusive father, a weak mother, a self centered sister, and two brothers who are different as night and day. One
May 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great story, beautifully written i enjoyed it so much from start to finish.
Aug 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: judith-barrow
Quite good.
Steven Kay
This is a well researched novel – you feel you can trust the author’s use of historical detail. (Only at one point towards the end did I start questioning that: when she refers to war crimes’ trials as early as August 1945. I could be wrong, but that seems a bit early.) Do such details matter – surely it is fiction? My view is that the historical novelist’s first duty is towards the history – that has to be right no matter how good the story, plot or characters. But, as I said, the detail here f ...more
Rosaline Riley
Jun 29, 2015 rated it it was amazing
A very good read.
This is a family saga with an interesting WW2 setting. Mary – the main character – is a nurse (along with her friend, Jean) in a POW camp hospital in her Lancashire town. Her brother Tom is a conscientious objector, imprisoned in Wormwood Scrubs; her other brother, Patrick, is a reluctant and bitter Bevin boy consigned to working down the pit when he wants to be in the army. Her younger sister, Ellen, starts out as a good time girl, dating an American GI. Then there is Frank Sh
Mirren Jones
Apr 16, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What a super debut novel by a very skilled storyteller. This is a real page-turner of a book, with the scene set full of tension and multiple stories developing right from the first paragraph. The story is set in the North of England during World War 2; traverses many places and themes: hospital life, POW camps, Conscientious Objectors, prison, the difficulties of home life under rationing, the stifling closeness of families living in cramped and sub-standard (by modern times) homes.

At its core
Feb 15, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this book. It was a love story filled with plenty of family drama. I felt like I got a real idea of what life was like for working families during WWII. I really loved the character Mary and often felt sorry for her as she was forced to run the household basically with no help from her parents or siblings. She also gets herself in quite the predicament when her feelings break through the boundary between ally and enemy. This makes for an interesting story. I can't wait to read t ...more
Annabelle Franklin
Set in WW1, Pattern of Shadows shows the effects of war on the lives of ordinary civilians. Mary Howarth, while nursing German captives in a UK POW camp, discovers that the enemy isn't always on the opposing side. I read this book over Christmas and it made great holiday reading - looking forward to reading the next two books in this gripping family saga.
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Judith Barrow,originally from Saddleworth, a group of villages on the edge of the Pennines,has lived in Pembrokeshire, Wales, for over forty years.
She has an MA in Creative Writing with the University of Wales Trinity St David's College, Carmarthen. BA (Hons) in Literature with the Open University, a Diploma in Drama from Swansea University. She is a Creative Writing tutor for Pembrokeshire County

Other books in the series

Mary (3 books)
  • Changing Patterns (Mary #2)
  • Living in the Shadows

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