This is a very readable book of drama and incident, and the lives of women during the Second World War. It is the second book in a series of “Bomb Girls” novels, but this one has a completely different set of girls from the first, so is very much a stand alone book. The Bomb Girls is the name for those conscripted women who were sent to a munitions factory where they would lodge locally and assemble bombs on an assembly line. It was dangerous work, using materials that would be explosive if mishandled or used without due care. It was also a dangerous work place because if the enemy bombers discovered the buildings, it would be a prime target. Women were sent there from various parts of the country as the war went on, as there were insufficient locally. At least one of the women in this novel was glad to move to the factory as it was unsafe to remain at home, and for female workers at the time it was well paid work. In this novel there is Kitty, over from Ireland, Gladys, a musician and Violet, with a secret past that still frightens her. They come together with more local women and men to form a group. I found it a very good read of a group of women who become a cohesive unit, facing the challenges of their work and lives together.
Kitty is a young woman with a significant need for money and a home. She has entrusted her baby to her sister’s care back in Ireland, and must send a significant amount of money to her father to support him. After finding some work which was tough she was told of the opportunity to work at the munitions factory, and was eager to come, even though the accommodation was a converted cow shed which was preferable to the slums she had previously lived. As time goes on, she makes a discovery about her son which means she knows she must depend on another person’s help to rescue the situation. Gloria is a talented musician from a strong family, who is very close to her brother Les. His military service worries her. When she begins a group of musicians to entertain the workers at the factory, she encourages and enables those who felt that they had little to offer. Violet is also a musician, though it has been pushed to the back of her mind by experiences that have seriously endangered her well being. When she joins the group she discovers help and support that she never realised were possible.
This is a book with a lot to say about the dangerous work that was undertaken by women in wartime, that was a feature of both World Wars. There are some moments of tragedy and bravery when the volatile nature of the substances being handled was quickly brought home to everyone, including the reader. I really enjoyed the way the women not only came together to form a group themselves, but also drafted in some of the other workers and locals. This is a book of deep relationships, love and hope. I enjoyed the humour, the coming together of those with different skills, and the background of a war which would leave no one untouched. Although another saga with the word “Girls” in the title, this is the story of strong women whose efforts made a real difference, and whose lives and loves represent many truths of life at the time .
This is another book of women in the Second World War brought together by their war work and who formed a group to support each other in difficult times. Although similar in some respects, these books are usually well researched and present real insight into a world of uncertainty. I seem to have acquired quite a collection of them, so all I need to do is try and sort out the series!