#BookReview THE SURPLUS GIRLS’ ORPHANS by POLLY HERON @CorvusBooks @SusannaBavin

ABOUT THE BOOK

Manchester, 1922

Molly Watson has had enough. Engaged for the last three years to a penny-pinching pedant, she finally decides she’d rather be a ‘surplus girl’ than marry a man she doesn’t truly love. Aware of the need to support herself if she is to remain single all her life, Molly joins a secretarial class to learn new skills, and a whole world opens up to her.

When she gets a job at St Anthony’s Orphanage, she befriends caretaker Aaron Abrams. But a misunderstanding leaves them at loggerheads and damages her in the eyes of the children she has come to care about so deeply. Can Molly recover her reputation, her livelihood and her budding friendship before it’s too late?

PUBLISHED BY CORVUS

AUTHOR WEBSITE

PURCHASE LINKS

AMAZON


MY REVIEW

The second book in The Surplus Girls series, and another brilliant storyline that centres around the women after the war and the expectations that were placed on them by their family and society, no matter what their own hopes and dreams were!

Molly is the main character in this book and she has a spirited story to tell. She is back working at the local sweet shop and engaged to a man whose behaviour will leave you aghast as it did me! But it was the respectable thing for her to do, to tow the line, to marry, to become a mother.. so when Molly decides she wants more for herself it really is frowned upon.

I loved her determination so she sets out to improve her education and prospects and ends up working at the local orphanage, where a whole other set of emotional circumstances let you see another side of life at the times. The story of some of the children -especially Danny – is enough to break your heart and as Molly spends more time with them, along with Aaron the caretaker, they open others’ eyes to the plight of these children and to ‘think outside the box’, so to speak, in how to get through to them and make their lives better.

Molly is a really wonderful character, especially in the era the story is set in. She has a belief in herself and she doesn’t just want to settle for the norm! She wants choices and a future and seeing how others perceive her because of these decisions is quite enlightening and makes you cheer her on even harder!

A wonderful read and highly recommended!

★★★★★

My thanks to the author and publisher for the advanced reader copy, in return for a fair and honest review.

#BookReview THE RAILWAY GIRLS by MAISIE THOMAS #TheRailwayGirls

ABOUT THE BOOK

The first novel in the utterly brilliant Railway Girls series. Perfect for fans of Nancy Revell and Ellie Dean.

In February, 1922, at the western-most entrance to Victoria Station in Manchester, a massive plaque was unveiled. Beneath a vast tiled map showing the lines of the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway network, a series of seven bronze panels recorded the names of the men of the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway who gave their lives for King and Country in the Great War – a total of 1,460 names.

In March, 1940, a group of women of varying ages and backgrounds, stand in front of the memorial, ready to do their bit in this new World War…
_________________________________________

Mabel is determined to make a fresh start as a railway girl where no one will know the terrible thing she did and she can put her guilt behind her… Or is she just running away?

Meanwhile Joan will never be as good as her sister, or so her Gran keeps telling her. A new job as a station clerk could be just the thing she needs to forget her troubles at home.

And Dot is further into her forties than she cares to admit. Her beloved sons are away fighting and her husband – well, the less said about him the better. Ratty old sod. She is anxious to become a railway girl just like her dear mam – anything to feel she is supporting the sons she prays for every night.

The three women start off as strangers, but soon form an unbreakable bond that will get them through the toughest of times…

PUBLISHED BY ARROW

PURCHASE LINK

Amazon £6.99

whsmith  £5.94

hive.co.uk  £6.85

MY REVIEW

What a way to start a new series! Maisie Thomas has created an amazing set of characters that get you on side straight away as they start their new lives working on the railways during the war.


And it’s definitely a new experience for them, and the men they are working alongside! The attitudes of the time come across in volumes as they are looked down on by some, many thinking that they can’t possibly do a job as well as a man – and not only from co-workers, it’s from the men in their own families too! A time when women ‘knew their place’ and men wouldn’t even lift a finger around the house. So to get these girls doing a variety of jobs in the railway sector in the North West allows you to see the prejudices they faced both at home and at work.

Mabel, Joan and Dot are the main characters but we also get to follow other women they meet along the way, and as they’re all at different stages of life we get to see the different aspects they all face with this new way of life. What they all have in common though is their resilience and a desire to stand on their own 2 feet and that’s what is brilliant about this book. They face up to their challenges and don’t run away from things even if it is tough. The bond between the women is also really strong as they know they are all in the same boat. Dot was one of my favourite as she took no prisoners!! Despite the attitudes she faced from certain male co-workers she was determined to prove them wrong!

It was also fascinating to see how the attitude of their families changed over time, as at the beginning they thought they were bringing shame on the family by wanting to work! Even having painted toenails was seen as a disgrace at the time so heaven forbid that a ‘woman’ was to be seen working on the railway! Nowadays they would have had such pride in these women wanting to work at such a time and do their bit!

There was a great mix of drama and humour throughout the book, and it all felt so relatable! These were women you could imagine yourself wanting to hang out with and I’m so excited to see what else this series has in store for us!!


★★★★★

#BookReview THE SURPLUS GIRLS by POLLY HERON

ABOUT THE BOOK

After the loss of war, can there be hope for the future?
Manchester, 1922.

Belinda Layton is a surplus girl. One of the many women whose dreams of marriage perished in the Great War, with the death of her beloved fiancé, Ben. After four years of mourning, she’s ready to face the future, even though Ben’s family is not happy to see her move on, and her own only cares about getting hold of her meagre factory wages.

Then, Belinda joins a secretarial class and a whole new world opens up to her as she quickly finds herself drawn to beguiling bookshop owner Richard Carson. But after all the loss and devastation she has experienced, can she really trust him with her heart?

PUBLISHED BY CORVUS

PURCHASE LINKS

Amazon UK

hive.co.uk

Whsmith 

MY REVIEW

This is the first in a trio of sagas set in the 1920’s and what a way to start! Full of inspiring female characters and a great way to look back at a time in history when women were being written off as ‘surplus girls’ as they’d lost their husbands or fiancees in the Great War.


Belinda is the surplus girl, who is in her 4th year of grieving for her beloved Ben. As she reaches her 21st birthday she is finding life tough working at the mill, under the extremely creepy and vile Mr Butterfield, and starts to want a little more from life. All her plans for life with Ben are gone, so she wants to start taking care of herself and signs up for a secretarial course which promises to give her more of a future and won’t need to rely on anyone else.


Running the secretarial course are Patience and Prudence, 2 more wonderful characters, who come up with the brilliant idea of training young girls, in a way to ensure they don’t lose their house. They’ve seen how things are difficult for these young women and I just loved how smart/devious (!) they were in getting their plans put into action!


As Belinda begins a work placement in a local bookshop, she gains so much confidence in herself and is beginning to see there might be a life after Ben, although she is still very much beholden to people around her – her own family rely on her financially, and she never shirks from that responsibility, and Ben’s family are still very much grieving and expect her to keep doing the same without realising that she cannot grieve forever.


I really enjoyed the issues within this story – the pressures and expectations women were having to deal with at the time in history and how difficult times led people to desperate measures. The women in this story were some really impressive characters who were very hardworking and didn’t let situations get on top of them.

★★★★★

My thanks to the author and publisher for the advanced reading copy in return for a fair and honest review.

#20BooksOfSummer #BookReview A Respectable Woman by Susanna Bavin

And to book 19 of the #20BooksOfSummer.  This had been sitting on my shelves for a while after I’d been sent a signed copy by the lovely Susanna Bavin, and at 477 pages long it was perfect for the long part of my reading challenge! And what a mighty fine story it was too! Loved it!!

ABOUT THE BOOK

After losing her family in the Great War, Nell is grateful to marry Stan Hibbert, believing she can recapture a sense of family with him. But five years on, she is just another back-street housewife, making every penny do the work of tuppence and performing miracles with scrag-end. When she discovers that Stan is leading a double-life, she runs away to make a fresh start.

Two years later, in 1924, Nell has carved out a fulfilling new life for herself and her young children in Manchester, where her neighbors believe she is a respectable widow and a talented machinist. But the past is hard to run from, and Nell must fight to protect the life she has made for herself and her children.

PUBLISHED BY  Allison & Busby

MY REVIEW

I’m a recent convert to the genre of Sagas and if they’re all going to be this good then I’m glad to have finally started reading them! I found this to be such an enthralling read that I had to read it in one sitting and have taken the character of Nell to my heart as she had to put up with so much heartache but still found the strength to pick herself up and carry on.

Nell had faced heartbreak in her past – she lost her family in the Great War so was facing the world alone, until a soldier, Stan, walked into her life and seemingly was her knight in shining armour. She finds married life hard, with long hours working, trying to raise her son too while Stan seemed more interested in the opening hours of the pub. By chance she finds out the truth about Stan and his other family, so she does what is best for her and her son and runs away to Manchester to start over.

Life isn’t much easier up there but she soon finds somewhere to live, a lovely woman called Leonie takes her in and treats her like her own daughter, and Nell works her fingers to the bone as a machinist as she now has 2 children to provide for. All those who know her now think she’s widowed and admire her for her ability to stay so strong. All doesn’t run smoothly though in her new home as Leonies’ son in law doesnt’ seem to like the influence Nell has over his mother in law – being nice to someone seems alien to him and the more you find out about him and how he treats his own family, the more it made my blood boil!!

As she creates a new life for herself, she never shirks the hard work and also turns into a bit of a heroine but that notoriety may soon become her downfall as the press attention brings back her past and to see how women were treated, even in the court system, at that time was appalling and quite an eye opener. With the help of her new friends you always find yourself cheering her on in her battles but always fearful that the attitudes of the time would go against her.

There were some vile characters in this book that were brilliantly described, and the character of Posy was just a delight – the author really captured the children in this so well! Naive in many situations, but wise beyond their years in others and their storylines really added extra depth to this story of triumph over adversity.

★★★★★