Three Cheers for the Shipyard Girls by Nancy Revell
Happy Tuesday everyone! Do not adjust your set, I am here blogging on a Tuesday, rather than my usual Friday just like old times with a review of a book that is very close to my heart.
I'm pleased as punch to announce that I am taking part in the book tour for Three Cheers for the Shipyard Girls by Nancy Revell, which is the final book in the Shipyard Girls series. A big thank you to Penguin Random House UK for gifting me a copy of the book in return for an honest review.
This series has a very special place for me as it is about the city where most of my husband's family liveI first discovered these books, thanks to my wonderful mother-in-law and her best friend Jenny (Team Yorkshire) who attended a talk and a signing given by Nancy about the Shipyard Girls and they kindly bought me a copy.
This is book 12 in the series, and people I am not going to lie, I have been dreading this day as there will be no more of my beloved Shipyard Girls books. I don't want this wonderful series to end. Before we get fully into the review, a quick note, this is the twelfth book in the series, I would strongly recommend reading these books in order. You are introduced beautifully to the characters and understand a lot of the history. A full list of the book order can be found below:
January 1945. Spring is in the air. And so is Victory....
Wedding bells are ringing at long last for Gloria and her soon-to-be husband Jack. But she can't rest until her youngest son is safely home. Head welder Rosie is delighted her own husband has returned from enemy territory. But the promise of victory brings more change. Her squad has come so far - what will happen when the war ends? Meanwhile Helen is caught between two men - but must hide her feelings from the one she loves. Can her fellow women welders help Helen follow her heart?
Only by working together will the Shipyard Girls win the day
Well, it's only blinking wonderful isn't it!
Throughout the series, Nancy Revell has clearly done her research into The Shipyard Girls, who were women employed by the traditionally male-dominated industry of welding in the city's shipyards. Because of the importance of this industry, Sunderland became the 7th most bombed city in Great Britain during the second world war. These courageous women undertook back-breaking work over long hours, to do their bit for the war effort. The Shipyard Girls pays respect to these brave women and the people of Sunderland.
But it is the heart in these books. Women from different parts of the town, different classes and circumstances coming together and forging friendships. Indeed this is the theme of the book, support and friendship. The decisions that each of the women take are wholly supported by the others. We see Hannah return to Europe to assist the British Red Cross and to search for her parents imprisoned in the concentration camps. We see Angie marry her Quentin, who when the question of differing classes comes up, is given support by the group of women in overcoming family disapproval.
The biggest character arc has been Helen, who in the first novel was awful to the women, but through finding herself has become a key part of the women's group. And it is these women who step in to help Helen make the right choices over the man she loves. I was on the edge of my seat, waiting to see how this plays out.
There is one further theme running throughout the novel, and that is one of paying tribute to a cast of characters we have come to love over 12 books. The last quarter of the book, is a victory lap for these characters. Nancy Revell's writing made me feel at times really quite emotional. I got the impression that this book was a chance for the author to also say her own goodbye and thank you to the Shipyard Girls in her own way and it is all the more powerful for it.
The novel remains a celebration though, not just for these characters but also for the end of war in Europe. We hear Churchill's rousing radio speech, Richard Dimbleby's moving account of the liberation of Belsen and we get to witness Sunderland's pride in its industry and own people. We also get to celebrate this fine cast of characters from the secondary players such as Lily, George, Pearl and Bill, characters no longer with us such as Teddy and Arthur and of course, the wonderful shipyard girls themselves. Even better we get to find out what happened to them.
I've become so invested in these characters, it's easy to forget that they are fictional, which is a measure of how good the writing actually is. We genuinely care about Gloria, Rosie, Polly, Dorothy, Angie, Helen and Martha
And so to conclude, after a very emotional weekend reading this book. Its a heart-warming, glorious celebration of a series of novels that have found their way into my heart. I'm excited to see what Nancy Revell does next. But oh, I will miss the Shipyard Girls so very much.
Once again a massive thank you to Nancy and Penguin Random House for my free copy of the book.