A Christmas Wish for the Shipyard Girls by Nancy Revell – A story of women on the Home Front in 1943

A Christmas Wish for the Shipyard Girls (The Shipyard Girls Series):  Amazon.co.uk: Revell, Nancy: 9781787464278: Books

A Christmas Wish for the Shipyard Girls

This a book that, like many of its type, finishes with Christmas celebrations, but is mainly about the rest of the year.This is a challenging year for the women who work in a shipyard in Sunderland, it being 1943 the Second World War is still has not yet been decided. Bombing raids still take place, there is a desperate need for the ships they are making and repairing, and some characters are away from home and in some danger. Not all the women are welders,though that was the focus of the earlier books in the series; some of the other women work in the office, look after the children and have other occupations. The range of relationships between them is part of the attraction of these books, and the closeness of most of the women is their strength. Not that they always agree, or find their relationships always easy. Past hurts, secrets and some evasions from the truth are challenges that must be coped with by everyone at some point. Helen is a great success at running the shipyard, but is suspicious of her family. Bel is still in love with Joe and adores her daughter, but is sad that she has not got the big family she so longs for so long after her second marriage. Polly is married and hopes for an addition so, but, her husband is still at risk and away from home. Other people in this book are planning changes, but can they all survive at this dangerous time?

The book begins in part of one the local hospitals, where Helen has come to find her friend Dr Parker, now convinced of her true feelings for him. She is surprised and upset to find him in an apparently compromising situation with Dr Claire Eris, who has her own agenda for the handsome doctor. Pearl has also arrived with her daughter Bel in search of her friend Bill, but has wandered into a different room and made a significant discovery. Charlotte is still causing problems and asking questions trying to find out about the various women as well as Rosie, and has established a firm relationship with Lily. Polly is struggling with advice from all quarters, as she struggles to hold on to hope for a happy reunion with her husband. Meanwhile,Bel and Pearl share a huge secret, but will they keep silent?

This book describes wonderful and memorable characters in a way that draws the reader in. I meant to take my time reading this book, but once I started to read the book I was hooked, and as I read through the book I was so keen to discover what would happen with each character in their particular storylines which are cleverly blended together. The dialogue is rich and varied, as they range between Angie’s local accent and the educated tones of Helen. Revell has a keen ear for the timing, the sense and the pace of speech of the people in all their varied occupations, and it is this that helps bring the story alive. I really enjoyed this really readable book, and recommend it to everyone who enjoys an involving story featuring strong women in challenging times.              

Triumph of the Shipyard Girls by Nancy Revell – In 1943 the women of the shipyard must cope with life on the Home Front

Triumph of the Shipyard Girls: 8 (The Shipyard Girls Series): Amazon.co.uk:  Revell, Nancy: 9781787464261: Books

Triumph of the Shipyard Girls by Nancy Revell

This book begins at Christmas 1942, following seven previous books in a vibrant series featuring women who work in a shipyard in Sunderland. Unlike the previous books, however, this book has lots of flashbacks to the 1930s in the case of Rosie. This book stands alone in its strong contribution to the overall ensemble story of war and strong women who are struggling to survive. Along with some of the previous books in this series, there are vivid stories in this novel of life, love and some sadness against the background of war. Several of the characters work as welders in a gang of highly skilled women, while Bel works in the office and Helen organizes much of the work in Thompson’s yard. Their families, represented by strong women like Agnes, are struggling on with raids, shortages and other problems of life on the home front. In this novel Rosie, the leader of the welding gang, has to struggle with her younger sister Charlotte, who is immensely curious about Lily and her business. Worse still, the teenager is also keen to discover why she was sent to an obscure boarding school so far away, and it is this questioning which problems memories of past trauma. This is a book which kept me fully engaged from the beginning, as I was so keen to discover what happened next. I enjoyed it tremendously and found it so hard to put down.

As always in these books, Revell manages to run several storylines at once, including the flashbacks to Rosie’s traumas, which is extremely well handled. She does explain the events in a storyline with delicacy and honesty. Rosie’s friends are supportive, especially the irrepressible Lily and her developing relationship with Charlotte who is visibly fascinated by her and her home. It proves difficult for some of the young women not to drop hints about Lily’s business, especially in Charlotte’s attentive hearing. Meanwhile Polly is coming to terms with the absence of her great love, and the implications of her discovery. Happily Helen is now so involved with the women who work on the yard and those she has recently come to know so well that she will provide practical and financial support. However, she too is curious, and enlists help to discover secrets that have been long kept. She is determined to maintain and improve production of vital ships in the yard, but realizes that cannot be done in isolation.

I found this book well researched in terms of daily life and details of clothes, housing and the effects of the raids on Sunderland. This book is about far more than bombing and the obvious effects of the war, but is a vivid picture of what the war was like for those in places like Sunderland.  The amount of research that has gone into this book is immense, yet it is never obvious. The characterization is excellent, and makes this a very special book. I recommend this book to anyone who is interested in the way women who coped with so many challenges, and the emotional demands put upon people. This is a well written book and I am looking forward to reading the next installment as soon as possible.  

Christmas with the Shipyard Girls by Nancy Revell – the build up to Christmas in 1942 with challenges among the people of Sunderland

Christmas with the Shipyard Girls: Shipyard Girls 7 (The Shipyard Girls  Series) eBook: Revell, Nancy: Amazon.co.uk: Kindle Store

Christmas with the Shipyard Girls by Nancy Revell

This is a novel in the popular and immensely readable Shipyard Girls series, telling the story of a group of women who worked as welders on the ships that were vital to the war effort. This volume is set in the months leading up to Christmas in 1942, when the Second World War was raging and places like Sunderland where the Shipyard is sited were particular targets for bombing raids. This novel continues the saga of the women, their friends and family, as they try to work and survive. They are a varied group, and those they live with and love are memorable characters. This being the seventh book in the series, many of the themes and people are well known, but it is possible to read these books out of order as they tend to concentrate on one or two characters. 

In this book, Polly is the centre of much of the story as she struggles with what should be a joyful time, but instead finds enormous challenges. As with all the books in this series, the research into the actual ship building, repair and maintenance is impeccable, yet never gets in the way of the human element. I enjoyed this book so much that I read it through the night. It is the sort of book that does not depend on a mystery, but rather on the simple question of what will happen next, and in particular, what will various characters choose to do. Polly has much to think about in this book, as despite the surprise appearance of someone she loves, she is not completely happy with her future. Revelations and twists dominate her story, as her friends and family are greatly concerned with what she will do. Meanwhile Helen, who has faced an awful dilemma in the recent past, has changed and become significantly more comfortable with the women in the Yard, which she effectively runs. While she is willing to help the people who she has become close to, she still has ambitions which seem to be dominating her life. Rosie’s life is made more tricky by the sudden arrival of her younger sister Charlotte, who is desperate to stay in the town while remaining silent about what has happened at her private school. She is especially intrigued by the amazing Lily, whose over the top personality is displayed to great effect in this particular book, and who raises lots of questions. 

This ensemble book is particularly strong on the motivation of characters, even those who are not central to the story on this occasion. People like Dorothy and Angie are drawn in well, full of life and given an enjoyable amount of dialogue. There are wonderful descriptions of clothes, even though the central set of women spend much of the time wearing overalls, which reflects a time of rationing and new clothes being a rare treat for many of the women. This book manages to make the whole area, the streets, the yards and the whole locality really come to life, as the buildings are described as illustrating the damage and destruction suffered in recent raids. This is a vibrant and involving novel which has a great sense of community, as well as secrets and half known elements of life. It finishes at Christmas, but much of the novel concentrates in the period from October, so I would suggest that this book could be enjoyed at any time. This is the first of two books in the series with Christmas in the title, and I am looking forward to reading the other one after the intervening installment!  

Courage of the Shipyard Girls by Nancy Revell – A group of women show the strength of female friendship.

Courage of the Shipyard Girls: Shipyard Girls 6 (The Shipyard Girls  Series): Amazon.co.uk: Revell, Nancy: 9781787460843: Books

Courage of the Shipyard Girls by Nancy Revell

This series about a group of women on the Home Front is a well written testimony to the strength and mutual support of women under pressure. The author points out that seven hundred women worked in the Sunderland shipyards during the Second world war, doing vital work to manufacture and repair the ships needed to maintain the naval presence to the war effort. This book tells the stories of a group of women who mainly do the actual welding on ships, as well as work in the drawing office and organisation of the shipyard’s output. It is dirty, dangerous work in its own right without the added challenge of bombing raids when the planes are aiming for the shipyards. These women, like so many others, were also missing their male loved ones who were on active service, as well as encountering those whose service kept them in Sunderland. The group of women in this book represent so many  real people. This book is part of a series, but such is the quality of the writing and the construction of the story it would be perfectly possible and indeed enjoyable to read it in isolation. 

This book begins with a Prologue  detailing the discovery of a letter addressed to Polly which announces that her fiance Tommy is missing on active service as a diver. She has already read it and is fleeing to J.L.Thompson’s shipyard where she works as a welder. The letter is given to her mother Agnes and Tommy’s grandfather Arthur, who pursue Polly to the shipyard to check on her. Once there they realise that she is with her friends and working in the job she is determined to do. Rosie is the chief of the work gang, Gloria being her slightly older deputy. Dorothy and Angie are younger women with a busy social life, while Martha is the solid worker. Another young woman, Helen becomes the other focus of the novel, as she has to cope with news that plunges her into a decision that has to be made by many women. Helen has traditionally not got on with the women who work in the yard, but has secretly been meeting Gloria and her baby Hope. Having got the reputation for unpleasant behaviour towards the women, especially Polly, when she has to cope with a succession of challenges she finds herself alone and having to deal with her thoroughly unpleasant mother and grandfather. Many other characters appear and affect the lives of the shipyard girls, who seek to manage their lives in the most difficult of circumstances. 

This is a moving and extremely well written which celebrates female friendship and genuine affection. The sense of place, the noisy, dirty shipyard and the terrace houses become real in every sense in Revell’s skilful writing. The individuality of the women is well drawn so it is easy to become involved in each woman’s emotions, from the confident to the insecure, from the loving to the necessarily defensive. I found myself completely drawn into the book, with its surprises, twists and incredible climax. I would thoroughly recommend this book to anyone interested in the roles women played in the Second World War, as despite being presented as fiction it has a centre of reality. I found it a vivid read, and I am looking forward to reading others in the series. 

Victory for the Shipyard Girls by Nancy Revell – a slice of wartime life for brave women in 1942

Victory for the Shipyard Girls: Shipyard Girls 5 (The Shipyard ...

Victory for the Shipyard Girls by Nancy Revell


This further volume in the Shipyard Girls series featuring women who worked in the shipyards of Sunderland and their friends and families during the Second World War is mainly set in 1942. There are revelations of the women’s lives and loves centred around an area of intense industry, which also provides a target for frequent bombing raids. This is a book of intense emotions as the women’s experiences overlap and centre on the works, especially as Helen, the owner of the shipyard’s granddaughter is working as the manager. As with other series of sagas this book carries the story onwards, but this novel has its own plot, as the characters journey through several months of wartime experience. It also refers back to events that occurred a few decades before, as one character remembers a life changing series of experiences. There is tension as secrets are kept, but also hope in the form of children who symbolise the future as well as the past. Those who are keen to discover what has happened to their favourite characters will find much to interest them in this book, but it also works as a snapshot of the wartime experience of women. 


The book opens with a wedding, as Rosie finally overcomes her reservations and commits herself to Peter. Not that it is an easy situation; a decision he has made means that he will be absent for much of the novel. Still, there are memories made and a new start for both, which will have an effect on others known to them. Bel is now happily married, but is seized by the urge to discover from Pearl the identity and fate of her father, something which Pearl is intent on avoiding at all costs. Gloria is settling into her role as a mother once more, but without her lover she struggles, concerned not only for her own child but also Helen, who she has begun to see in a more sympathetic light. There is  a grievous threat made to many of the group of friends by an embittered woman, a revelation of family secrets that would hurt several people. Gloria and Rosie choose to act to limit the potential threat, but the machinations of Miriam will still affect more than one life. The bounds of friendship will continue to support the women who live through this difficult time but every relationship is severely tested.


This book, like the others in the series, is easy to become engrossed in as the situations of so many overlap and also move in parallel. This is a skilfully written novel which features many concerns of the time which went beyond Sunderland, as the fate of nations was still hanging in the balance. Revell’s usual high standard of characterisation is well demonstrated in this book, as well as her gentle development of plot. The sense of time and place also emerges so well from this book, as everyone feels that they must contribute to the war effort, either on the front line, the building and repairing of ships of war, or the taking care of children to allow others to work. I found this a fascinating book, and am keen to read more in this series. 


I am taking Saturday and Sunday off from posting again this week, but I will be gathering my forces for the following weekends. Reviewing a book a day does mean reading many books, which can be easy in many ways – but I do get distracted. I have even started watching “The Crown” again – and once again been impressed by the acting of the leads. I have nearly finished Downton Abbey again, an as for Poldark… Have you been distracted by any classic series?





Shipyard Girls at War by Nancy Revell – women working together in a tough environment

Shipyard Girls at War

There are many books with the word “Girls” in the title, most of which tell tales of a group of women who joined together to work on the Home Front during the Second World War. This particular saga or novel tells the stories of a group of women, and some of the families, who worked at the shipyards of Sunderland. With air raids on the town and some of the local men joining the army, there would be casualties at home and away. This is a book which takes a fictional look at the difficulties of the work at the yard, being heavy and exposed to the elements. While women did the work, not all of them could physically keep up with the heavy tools and processes. It is the second one in a series, but there is enough in the book to allow the reader to pick up what has occurred before. Rosie is the gang leader, and has a secret double life and a tragic past.  Gloria is a woman who has secrets and challenges that are not confined to wartime pressures. A particular family group is coping with a loss as a soldier is killed in action. The survival of his brother causes problems and at least one household must come to terms with the future. This is a well written book of people who are living in difficult times, and making a difference, not just girls, but determined women.  


Bel is a young women who was married to Teddy, one of the twin sons of Agnes, but she has heard that he has been killed, leaving her a widow with a small daughter. Joe, his surviving brother, is returning injured and will need tending. Bel grew up with Agnes and her family, and still lives in the family home. When Bel’s mother turns up memories are reawakened of her poor treatment of Bel as a child, how she was virtually abandoned and was brought in by Polly, Agnes’ daughter. Polly continues working at the Yard, worrying about her fiance Tommy away in the army. Her workmates are led by Rosie, who has secrets of her own, as she copes with her dubious job as well as the problems of progress at the Yard. She has a particular battle with Helen who is acting manager. She is especially concerned for Hannah, who is struggling to keep up with the work. Meanwhile, Gloria is worried by the problem of her estranged husband and his tendency to violence. Many problems present themselves to the characters, in addition to the dangers of air raids and the actual fighting of a war.


This book tackles head on some problems that were paramount at the time and continue to this day. Domestic violence and the lack of resolution from the law at the time is a significant issue. The question of love after bereavement is a difficulty in many ways. The whole book looks at the way that a community must continue when many men are away, and the need for ships to continue the fight. This is a very readable book which makes the most difficult subjects human, the extra difficulties of the times seen through the eyes of women who are determined to stick together. It has much to say about how physically demanding the work at the shipyards was, and how so many people were determined to fight in any way they could. Not all the characters act in a positive way, or have positive motives for their behaviour, and it is a realistic picture of family and community life. I will definitely look to read other books in this series, and recommend this wartime saga for its appreciation of place and people.   


Yes, I am continuing with the theme of women in mid twentieth century Britain, facing lots of problems with life with many men serving in the military forces and finding a way to keep society going, as they had during the First World War. Have you a favourite book set in the time? Do you enjoy these saga type books?