Angel of Grasmere: From Dunkirk to the Fells

Angel of Grasmere: From Dunkirk to the Fells

By Author / Illustrator

Tom Palmer, illus Tom Clohosy Cole


Historical Fiction

Age range(s)



Barrington Stoke




Paperback / softback




Tarn grapples with the loss of her brother at Dunkirk as she faces the threat of Nazi invasion in the Cumbrian countryside in this gripping wartime tale from Tom Palmer.

July 1940 - as Tarn struggles to come to terms with the loss of her beloved brother in the chaos of the British retreat at Dunkirk, she and her friends scour the hills around their Lake District home, watching for any signs of the long-dreaded Nazi invasion.

But as the war drags on, with little good news from the front, the locals become aware of someone carrying out anonymous acts of kindness, such as saving a flock of sheep from a snowdrift and getting help for an injured farmer who might other wise have died.  With no one claiming credit, they come to think of this unidentified stranger as a kind of guardian angel, but when his identity is finally revealed, can Tarn come to terms with the truth...?



Tom Palmer's eagerly awaited latest book is worth the wait, offering fans of his work another excellent, thought-provoking story featuring both the battlefields of France and the rural farmland of the Lake District in Cumbria.

Angel of Grasmere is both a poignant and dramatic tale told from the dual perspectives of siblings separated during World War Two: Joss, a young soldier living through the horrors of war at the retreat to the beaches of Dunkirk; and Tarn, a young child living through the deprivations of war with her family, her friends and the local community of Grasmere in the Fells.

The author uses the twin emotions of sadness and shame which inhabit the two main characters to explore two years in the middle of the war when victory was not certain and invasion was fearfully expected. The terror experienced by soldiers during World War One, expressed as shell shock, was also present in the second world war and indeed, all theatres of war before and since. Tom Palmer introduces the mental health illness of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, describing the emotions of guilt, powerlessness and frozen terror through the character of Joss extremely well, enabling the reader to become empathic to what led to his actions.  As the story unfolds, acts of kindness secretly occur, reminding the local people that even in the middle of the despair of war, an 'angel' is looking over them.

Tom Palmer researches his stories extremely well and this book is no exception. He includes acknowledgements to the school children, staff and community of Grasmere to whom he dedicates this book. He includes references to his own writing hero, Dorothy Wordsworth, sister of romantic poet William, who wrote journals about the area and which were also loved by the characters in his 'Angel of Grasmere'.

This book, published by Barrington Stoke, is a fantastic and well written work of fiction which will be a valuable addition to our accessible school library collection and equally enjoyable for readers of all stages and ages. Highly recommended.

208 pages / Reviewed by Ruth Cornish, school librarian

Suggested Reading Age 11+


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