Anne Bonny #BookReview The Bomb Girls by Daisy Styles 5* #ww2Fiction #Saga #Lancashire @PenguinUKBooks ‘Journey through ww2 with the women of Lancashire’

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The Bomb Girls by Daisy Styles
My own copy
Synopsis:

On an ordinary day in 1941, a letter arrives on the doormats of five young women, a letter which will change everything.

Lillian is distraught. And whether she tears, hides or burns the letter the words remain the same – she must register for compulsory war work. Many miles away, Emily is also furious – her dream job as a chef will have to be put on hold, whilst studious Alice must abandon her plans of college.

Staring at an identical letter, Elsie feels a kindling of hope at the possibility of leaving behind her brutal father. And down in London, Agnes has her own reasons for packing her bags with a smile.

Brought together at a munitions factory in a Lancashire mill town, none of them knows what lies ahead. Sharing grief and joy, lost dreams and gained opportunities, the five new bomb girls will find friendship and strength that they never before thought possible as they unite to help the country they love survive.

My Review:

The Bomb Girls is an unusual series, in that each novel follows a different set of bomb girls. They are not a follow-on series such as The Shipyard Girls by Nancy Revell. So, each book can be enjoyed as and when you want to read them! I am already earmarking the Christmas novel, for one of my December reads.

The novels are set in the small Lancashire town of Pendle. Being from Lancashire myself I recognised some of the small towns and villages mentioned. The novel follows Lillian, Emily, Elsie, Agnes and Alice. Five very different women, as they navigate their new post at the munitions factory in an old Lancashire mill. With each of the women being seconded to compulsory war work, life is far from easy. But the girls will come to bond and it is that growing sisterhood that makes this novel so beautiful.

Emily is from the small Lancashire mill town of Pendle. She has a boyfriend Raymond who is serving with the Lancashire Fusiliers. Emily is a fantastic cook and had dreams of culinary school before the war. Eventually she ends up being able to provide some much needed subsidence to the workers at the munitions factory. Although she does have to twist the arm of Mr Greenhalgh.

Alice is the clever gal of the group. She had plans to attend Manchester University and study a degree in the French language. She is also a bookish girl, that can often be found at Tonge Moor library. Although she is the group tomboy, she has had a grammar school education and had high hopes for her future. Nevertheless, she signs up at the labour exchange and finds herself at the old mill.

Elsie is a unique character, she signs up to the labour exchange to escape her home life. One that is filled with domestic abuse and unpaid labour. Her character really develops throughout the novel and her strength is inspiring.

Agnes lives in London, she has in one sense the most heart-breaking background. Her husband Stan is MIA. Her daughter Esther is not only an evacuee currently residing in the Lake District. But Esther is also recovering from polio. Agnes knows that a move to Lancashire is a move closer to Esther and so she takes her chances on life at the factory.

Lillian is the beauty of the group and she knows it. Lillian uses her charms and good looks, so breeze through life. When the female conscription is announced, to say she is unimpressed is a major understatement.
Can Lillian thrive at the factory? Will it change who she is?

The women arrive to their ‘hostel’ type lodgings. By hostel, I mean cowshed. They are joined by local women of Pendle, Nelson, Colne and Darwin. Their work involves long exhausting shifts and each of the women quickly makes alliances with each other and new best friends.

‘From now on we’re going to look after Agnes’ – Emily

The group band together to organise compassionate leave for Agnes to visit her daughter. It is then we see the true personal costs of MIA soldiers, polio and the plight of evacuees.

When the US and Canadian troops arrive in the UK, some of the girls find their eyes wandering. With Lillian, Emily and Alice actively going in search of these mysterious men.

There is love, laughter and an explosion at the factory.
Can the women survive the war with their hearts intact?

Alice is offered a job at the war office, a job that will see her leave Lancashire for London and more important work in the war effort. The women are left devastated by her departure but determined to stay in touch as best they can.

The novel is an emotional rollercoaster, there are ups and downs galore. The strength of the women and sisterhood that develops is what makes this a brilliant read. It also forms as sort of a ‘coming of age’ in the ww2 era for the women. When the novel starts out they may be naïve, but by the end of the novel they are toughened young women.

‘Lancashire folk are fighters and we don’t let folk down do we?’ – Gracie Fields

Journey through ww2 with the women of Lancashire. 5*

More information about Daisy Styles

Anne Bonny #BlogBlitz #Extract Death On The Coast by @BernieSteadman #CoastalCrime #Crimefiction #Mystery #WestCountry #NewRelease #BeachReads @Bloodhoundbook

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Death On The Coast by Bernie Steadman
Synopsis:

Can DCI Dan Hellier decipher the twisted mind behind the ritualised burning of homeless men on Devon’s beaches before more people are sacrificed?

When images from the burning appear all over social media, Hellier realises that he is dealing with a cult and a mystery that will lead back to the Irish Troubles.

Hellier will battle a bitter man who has plotted revenge for more than twenty years, without a care for the lives he will destroy.

Extract:

Kegan waited outside the rough circle of stones until the moment was right. Faces, made hideous by red and black paint, stared at him through the swirling flames of the fire. He found Tana’s eyes, so black in her white face. It was time. The rock, cold in his hands, scraped at his palms as he lifted it high and smashed it down on the back of the man’s head. The crack of stone on bone was loud enough to make one of them flinch, but they held firm, watching intently as Kegan hauled the unconscious man into his arms, before rising – each taking a limb of the inert body – and throwing it messily into the heart of the fire.

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Bernie Steadman
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B LO G B L I T Z

Anne Bonny #BookReview The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood 5* Genius #VintageClassics #HandmaidsTale #PraiseBe #BlessedBeTheFruit #UnderHisEye @vintagebooks

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The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
My own copy
Synopsis:

‘I believe in the resistance as I believe there can be no light without shadow; or rather, no shadow unless there is also light.’

Offred is a Handmaid in The Republic of Gilead, a religious totalitarian state in what was formerly known as the United States. She is placed in the household of The Commander, Fred Waterford – her assigned name, Offred, means ‘of Fred’. She has only one function: to breed. If Offred refuses to enter into sexual servitude to repopulate a devastated world, she will be hanged. Yet even a repressive state cannot eradicate hope and desire. As she recalls her pre-revolution life in flashbacks, Offred must navigate through the terrifying landscape of torture and persecution in the present day, and between two men upon which her future hangs.

Masterfully conceived and executed, this haunting vision of the future places Margaret Atwood at the forefront of dystopian fiction.

My Review:

I am currently making my way through season two of the TV series. I am feeling more and more disturbed with every episode. One night in particular, I had a nightmare in which I was in the full red dress and bonnet!!!! Now if this isn’t scary enough, I was burying my books. As a woman, I was no longer allowed to read! Oh, the sheer horror!!!!!
After this unsettling night’s sleep I decided I simply HAD to read the novel and know the how/what/when/where.
What I found is an in-depth novel that I digested in five straight hours. I was horrified and scared, yet I couldn’t take my eyes away from the pages.
Margaret Atwood is one impressive author.

‘They’ve removed anything you could tie a rope to’

The entire narrative is from Offred’s perspective. For which she is Offred, not June. We meet fellow handmaid’s Alma, Janine, Dolores and Moira. All of which go on to take their commanders names, as June has Of-Fred. The handmaid’s lifestyle is bleak, terrifying and at times depressing for the reader. It shows a lifestyle that would strike fear into most women.

‘A return to traditional values’

Offred is at her third house, the home of former gospel singer Serena Joy. We are introduced to the ‘Martha’s’ in the kitchen Rita and Cora. Martha’s are infertile women of low status. We also meet the homes guardian Nick who also has a relatively low status. But who regularly crosses the line with Offred via way of winks and eye contact. Which leads her to ponder if he is ‘an eye’ a type of informant to the Republic of Gilead. At her time at the house Offred dreams of escape, but just what kind of escape is left open to interpretation. . . .

‘It’s those other escapes, the ones you can open in yourself, given a cutting edge’

Offred is partnered with Ofglen for her only luxury of a simple walk to the shops. The often take walks to ‘the wall’ where traitors of the regime hang for all to see. Eventually it is through these meetings that we learn of the plight of others. Such as, Ofwarren (Janine) who is now heavily pregnant. The indoctrinate of Aunt Lydia has had the largest impact on Janine’s psychology. She is well and truly a programmed Handmaid.
On their journey back the girls are accosted by Japanese tourists, hoping for a picture of the famous handmaid’s. Offred and Ofglen are shocked to see women dressed as they once did in their past lives. It reminds them how much their lives have changed.

Through the narrative we learn of ‘gender treachery’ aka being homosexual. That unwomen are sent to the colonies, which is a death sentence of hard labour. We also learn that only 1/4 babies are born an unbaby. That this is due to the high levels of pollution, that caused the situation of infertility in the first place.

‘It’s not the husbands you have to watch out for, said Aunt Lydia, it’s the wives’

Serena Joy (Pam) used to enjoy giving speeches on the ‘sanctity of home’. Now she finds herself a prisoner to a regime of her own making. Although she enjoys a much higher status than Offred. She is still a woman and therefore sanctioned as so.

Offred must endure monthly obligatory tests which include urine, hormones, cancer smear and blood tests. In Gilead there is no such thing as sterile men. There are only fruitful women and barren women. It is a regime designed around female control and male dominance. A regime for which I am sure, I couldn’t last the week.
But the will to survive is human trait.

‘Sanity is a valuable possession’

Offred reflects upon and longs for her daughter. We are unaware of Offred’s full background. But we know that her daughter was 5yrs old when taken and now must be approximately 8yrs old. Offred longs for news of her child and this will provide an emotional pull, for all mother’s who read this novel. To be stripped of your rights as a woman, human being and mother. Is a life truly unworth living.

There is a particular scene at the red centre (handmaid training facility) where Janine must take part in ‘testifying’ she must go into personal details of her past. Her gang rape and subsequent abortion. It is a harrowing scene. You come to understand how her fragile mind could be easily manipulated, with just the right amount of human despair and suffering administered.

‘Love is not the point’ – Aunt Lydia

The Gileadean regime is explored in a much different way than the TV series. At times it feels more personal and harrowing as the voice of Offred infects your inner most thoughts. Yet the visuals from the TV series really add the sense of realism. As we watch this insane regime brought to life.

I can easily see why this is a classic novel and I am glad that due to the TV series adaption more and more modern women and women of future generations will read/watch and listen. I was only 2yrs old when this novel was first published, and it’ll be one I will NEVER forget!
5* Genius

‘I wish I was ignorant,
so I didn’t know how ignorant I am’

MA
Margaret Atwood
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