I’m thrilled to be the host for today’s stop on the blog tour for this fantastic new novel from Kate Thompson, set against the backdrop of WWII London.
I received a copy of The Allotment Girls* for review.
It’s always a pleasure to read Kate Thompson’s books, and I really enjoyed both Secrets of the Singer Girls and The Wedding Girls (click through to read my reviews). So I happily accepted the invitation to review her new novel, The Allotment Girls.
Like the two previous novels, this book is set in London against the backdrop of World War 2. It follows the fortunes of four young women working in the Bryant & May factory. Rose, Annie and Millie are London born and bred, and Pearl has moved down to London following a German bombing raid that destroyed the factory where she was working.
As you would expect, none of the women has a straightforward life. Millie has an abusive husband, Rose has an overbearing adoptive mother, and Annie is struggling to look after her elderly Nan. And Pearl? She’s clearly hiding something, because her family in Liverpool think that she died in the raid.
Even Annie’s Nan, Elsie, is hiding a secret – and not even her grand-daughter knows about it.
The women are inspired by the Dig for Victory campaign, and gain permission to start two allotments on land owned by their employers. It gives them a peaceful diversion from the stresses of war-time life. There’s also another form of diversion, as the women all meet young men who will change their lives in one way or another.
And the secrets they are hiding get bigger and more explosive…
I really enjoyed reading The Allotment Girls. Kate Thompson has a wonderful way of constructing characters and storylines that completely grab my attention. I could easily picture each of the women in my mind’s eye, and grew very fond of them all.
It’s very obvious that she does a lot of research, and a lot of talking to people who were living in London during the war. This attention to detail makes reading her books a real pleasure. As with the previous books, Kate Thompson weaves real life events into her story. I always enjoy reading the historical basis for the novel, which she adds on as an epilogue.
I also love the way that she breathes life into war-time communities. You get a real sense of what life would have been link for the match girls, and the strength that they get from each other.
But don’t be fooled into thinking that this is just a gentle read. The Allotment Girls addresses some of the very serious issues that were affecting women in this time. It shows how attitudes to marriage and child-bearing have changed – thank goodness!
And when Pearl’s secret finally comes out in the open, it leads to a shocking twist to the story.
I thoroughly enjoyed this novel, and highly recommend it. You don’t need to have read any of Kate Thompson’s previous work, as they are all standalone novels. But I’m pretty sure that once you’ve read The Allotment Girls, you’ll be seeking out her other books as well!
The Allotment Girls is an inspiring and heartwarming novel of wartime hardship, friendship and fortitude from Kate Thompson, author of the Secrets of the Sewing Bee.
During the Second World War, life in the iconic Bryant & May match factory is grimy and tough. Annie, Rose, Pearl and Millie carry on making matches for the British Army, with bombs raining down around them.
Inspired by the Dig for Victory campaign, Annie persuades the owners to start Bryant & May allotment in the factory grounds. With plenty of sweat and toil, the girls eventually carve out a corner of the yard into a green plot full of life and colour.
In the darkest of times, the girls find their allotment a tranquil, happy escape. Using pierced dustbin lids to sieve through the shrapnel and debris, they bring about a powerful change, not just in the factory, but their own lives.
As the war rages on, the garden becomes a place of community, friendship – and deceit. As the garden thrives and grows, so do the girls’ secrets . . .
Another thoroughly enjoyable read from Kate Thompson, I can’t wait for the next one! 8.5/10
The Allotment Girls* will be available in paperback on 22nd March 2018, published by Pan
This Giveaway is now closed and the winner will be announced soon
To be in with a chance of winning this book, simply log in to the Rafflecopter below and answer the question. There are also social media entries that you can use to boost your chance of winning. The giveaway is open to UK entrants over 18 years old, and will close at 11.59PM on 29th March 2018.
And the question you need to answer to enter the giveaway is: The match girls find tending their allotments relaxing, but what’s your favourite way to relax?