1939. Nine-year-old Susie and her sister Gyll live in Watford and all week look forward to their Saturday shopping expedition to Woolworths, accompanied by their nanny Alice, to buy something nice for Mummy. But as war breaks out across Europe, Susie and Gyll are evacuated to Africa. Alone on a dusty continent, the sisters find little to like about their new way of life and get no sympathy from their guardians, especially devout Aunt Geraldine (or 'Dor-dor') who forces them to wear patched-up clothes and be in bed by six o'clock.
Feeling increasingly abandoned as the years pass and letters from home stop arriving, the sisters dream desperately of escape and cling fervently to their memories of idyllic England. When they do finally reach British shores, only a few weeks after D-Day, there is no one to meet them at Liverpool Docks. After getting to their father's new home in Gloucestershire, they find a strange woman living with him and gradually learn that their mother has moved away and joined the Polish army. Life only gets stranger when they are sent to Cheltenham Ladies College, where English boarding school life is possibly even worse than their years of exile in Africa.
Wonderfully evocative, funny and charming, Susan Kennaway writes about the difficult challenges of growing up during the Second World War with rare honesty and insight. The Yellow Duster Sisters is a moving and unusual exploration of the often ignored, and often destructive, nature of shifting war-time family relationships.