Wartime for the Shop Girls by Joanna Toye

I’m delighted to be sharing my review of Wartime For The Shop Girls today as part of the blog tour celebrations! It’s out in paperback this week on Thursday 23rd January so happy publication week to Joanna Toye!

What’s this book about?

It’s 1942 and as shortages of staff – and goods – begin to bite, young Lily Collins is thrilled to step up to sales junior in her job at Marlow’s department store.

But bombs are still falling and Lily and fellow shop girls Gladys and Beryl need a stiff upper lip to wave boyfriends, husbands and brothers goodbye, especially with a baby on the way and grim news on the wireless. When Jim, who works with Lily at the store, seems restless, things are bad enough, but nothing can prepare Lily for the secrets that come tumbling out when her favourite brother comes home on leave…

Somehow, she must keep smiling through. Community, family and friends rally round as her home town – and the whole country – is tested once again.

My review

This is the follow up to the fabulous A Store at War and continues the story of Lily Collins who has gone to work at Marlows department store in the Midlands during WW2. I don’t think you need to have read A Store at War to enjoy Wartime for the Shop Girls as lots of background information is there if you need it. The year is now 1942 and Lily is lucky enough to still be working at Marlows and her friendship with Jim is still developing but a trip back home for Jim may throw a spanner in the works. And there are a few more secrets about to unravel as Lily and her family and friends cope with life during these difficult times.

This is an engaging wartime family drama with a very likeable young heroine at its heart. Lily is a smart cookie, ahead of her years really but I think that shows an understanding of the era where young women had to grow up very quickly in times of great stress. Women were left behind whilst the menfolk were away from home and it became the women who stepped up and into roles that changed their lives forever. Lily and her friends Beryl and Gladys felt realistically portrayed and I enjoyed each one of their journeys as they worked to overcome the problems caused by a country at war. One plot thread was handled completely in keeping with the time period and, even though we may find the attitude towards it rather politically incorrect today, it’s a true representation of thoughts at the time.

Wartime for the Shop Girls is a well researched and written family drama that has an edge over other wartime fiction. Joanna Toye is brilliant at bringing this time period to life and immersing her readers into the lives and loves of the women left behind. And I’m now looking forward to the third book Heartache for the Shop Girls which is due out in May!

Meet the author

Joanna Toye joined the production team of The Archers after reading English at Cambridge University, and became a scriptwriter for the programme for over twenty years. She has also written a number of spin-off books about the long-running radio drama. On television she has written for Crossroads, Family Affairs, Doctors and EastEnders.

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I am a Norfolk girl living in leafy Cheshire with my grumpy Scotsman. A mum and nana who lives for my family but who is also addicted to reading (and Marmite!) I will read almost anything but my preferred genres to review are psychological thrillers, crime procedural novels or women's fiction. My kindle is my life but I also have a substantial bookshelf in my cosy reading room where I can go to escape the stresses of family life with plenty of tea and chocolate. I am a member of netgalley and bookbridg. I review on Amazon, where I'm a Top 500 reviewer, and Goodreads. You can always find me over on Twitter @jocatrobertson for any review requests.

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