A novel it will take time to recover from as Kate Thompson takes you into the, sometimes harrowing, sometimes funny, and sometimes heart-warming world of the East End during world war two. Not a gentle stroll, but a gripping, emotional journey, dragging you into the lives of her characters in a way that will have you not wanting to let go of the world she has set you in.
Thompson's four main characters are women, diverse in age and in what has shaped them. They are so well drawn you feel you know them as they toil for long hours in a sewing machine factory, and lighten their lives by singing as they work.
Three of them are strangled by their own dark secret and find it difficult to move on with their lives. The fourth one has a dream to break free of the restrictions placed upon her. This leads her into making choices that take her down a heartbreaking path.
But despite living in fear of their secrets coming out, even to each other, and experiencing domestic violence and prejudice, and the taking of a wrong path, they remain strong and supportive of each other, protecting one another as best they can and endearing themselves to the reader.
It is when the secrets begin to crack open that the real devastation is felt and consequences have to be faced. Be prepared to be shocked by revelations you never guessed at, and thrown into a final turmoil of emotion, the outcome of which is hope for a brighter future for the women, but a sadness that you are no longer in their lives. A riveting, and wonderful read, that will have you looking out for each new book by Kate Thompson.
I began reading it yesterday evening and didn’t finish reading until I reached p376 by which time it was around three o’clock in the morning! I thought it was marvellous, full of gutsy characters I immediately emphasised with , (as well as a couple of truly repellent ones). From beginning to end I found the book vibrant and engrossing and that it was set against a piece of little-known London working-class life during WW2 added to its interest.
What a lovely story!
The warm way Kate Thompson writes about Poppy, Daisy, Vera and Sal made me feel that I was reading about old friends. The camaraderie the girls found working in the factory blossoms into a close bond as strong as any family, and I just had to keep the pages turning to find out how they dealt with and overcame their problems and heartaches.
Kate Thompson writes with such skill and pathos that it’s hard to believe that this is her first novel. I am sure that before long her readers will be clambering for more.
Kate has managed to capture the real essence of friendship and camaraderie that bolstered the women during the Second World War.
An evocative tale of a time when women battled together to survive and do their bit in the most difficult of circumstances.
A poignant and moving story of the friendship of women during wartime Britain.