"The factual side of the story - the handling of a narrowboat in all weathers and under difficult, even dangerous circumstances, was well researched and really brought home the effort these remarkable women of WWII put into keeping the country running."
Family Drama / romance
"Spring 1944, and the war shows no sign of stopping. In Hampshire, Elsie is desperate for a new start after her husband leaves her. When her friend Izzy, herself planning an escape from her abusive boyfriend, tells her about the wartime jobs going for women on the canal boats, she jumps at the chance. Their new boss, Dorothy, is kind and fair, but it's clear she has a secret of her own. Their crew is completed by Tolly, searching for a new vocation now that her dream job has been snatched away. The work is hard, but together they pitch in, and through shared ups and downs they forge close friendships that will see them through the darkest times. What none of them could have predicted is just how much working on the canals will change their lives. Could it really be that what started as a means of escape will end up giving each of them everything they ever wanted?"
The very thought of progressing at a leisurely pace through the English countryside towards the large, industrial towns such as Birmingham via a narrowboat on the network of canals conjures the immediate picture of romantic idyll. Of course, the reality of the canal boats and the men - or in this case, the women - who operated them is far from that idyllic concept. Taking a leisurely cruise on a modern-day floating holiday home is very far from transporting essential goods during the hazards of war.
I enjoyed this story, and not just because I have happy memories of holidaying afloat with my family on various English canals. Right from the start, I felt that I knew the 'girls' as 'old friends'. Elsie, Izzy, Dorothy and Tolly, sharing their worries, hopes, dreams, disappointments and secrets together as friends do.
The factual side of the story - the handling of a narrowboat in all weathers and under difficult, even dangerous circumstances, was well researched and really brought home the effort these remarkable women of WWII (and WWI, come to that) put into keeping the country running.
I must admit, I knew about landgirls working the farms and the women in the munitions factories but it never occurred to me that they would also be handling the essential transportation links of the canals.
This was a simple, unassuming story, predictable, as most 'romances' are, with the secrets and situations pretty obvious; to be honest there really wasn't much point in the author keeping the 'secret' until the end 'reveal' - better to have confided it to the reader but kept it from the characters, which would, I feel, have made the secret holder's dilemma far more poignant. Still, this was an enjoyable, easy novel, absolutely ideal for holiday reading - especially one taken on the English canals!
© Mary Chapple