By bestselling British writer Charlotte Bingham, The Chestnut Tree is a sweeping, romantic novel about the women who stayed behind in World War II.
It is the summer of 1939, and the residents of the idyllic Sussex fishing port of Bexham are preparing for war. Beautiful but shy Judy Melton, daughter of a naval hero; her determinedly feckless friend, the social butterfly Meggie Gore-Steward; seemingly demure Mathilda Eastcott, and Rusty Sykes, the tomboy daughter of the owner of the local boatyard, are all in their very individual ways determined to play an active part in the defense of their country. But knitting socks and bomb-dodging are not what they have in mind.
Under the tree on the green the women of Bexham meet to look back on a landscape that has changed irrevocably, and which they have in their own ways helped to alter. None of them are the same, and yet, with the men returning from war, they are expected to slip back into their simple roles of mother, daughter, grandmother. This, more than anything perhaps, is their greatest sacrifice.
Only the chestnut tree planted by Corrie at the edge of the village flourishes in the accepted manner, finally becoming the uniting symbol of all that has passed forever.