Triumph of the Shipyard Girls by Nancy Revell
As a nation, we have just celebrated VE day. Our TV screens were filled with images and moving stories of the celebrations that took place in 1945. At times these were bittersweet, happiness that the war in Europe was over and sadness for those not coming back. It feels appropriate, therefore, to be reviewing a novel set during wartime.
This is Book 8 in the Shipyard Girls series, I would strongly recommend reading these in order. You can read my review of the previous novel here.
Set in Sunderland during World War 2, the Shipyard series follow a group of friends and their families as they work in the Sunderland shipyards. Helen is looking to uncover her family's secrets, Newly married Polly has had to bid farewell to her husband who has gone back to the war and Rosie is trying to keep the secrets of her past from her curious sister Charlotte. The women's lives and those of their friends play out against a backdrop of World War 2 and the ever present threat of being bombed.
These books are a little bit of a guilty pleasure for me. The first aspect I really enjoy is the information and detailing about what life was like during the war. The women work at Thompson's Shipyard and we see how women began to be more prevalent in the work place as oppose to being housewives and mothers. There is a real sense of duty to the country and a pride that the work they are doing is helping to win the war and bring their loved ones home to them. The women's lives in the novel look very different to how they were at the start of the war. We see neighbours pitch in and help with childcare and the sharing of rations, just so the women could go to work and celebrate events we take for granted now.
We learn about the terrible bombing inflicted on Sunderland and the aftermath, how the community tried to help where it could and mourned when it was too late.
The other theme running through the novel is one of friendship and camaraderie. The girls always look out for each other. We witness relationships blossom during the most trying of times. At its heart the novel retains its sense of strong friendship, strong women and the support they provide each other.
I really continue to enjoy this series of novels and will happily carry on reading Nancy Revell's series which is truly a tribute to the people of Sunderland.