Today it’s a pleasure to take part in the BlogTour Wartime for the Shop Girls by Joanna Toye.
About 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 written a number of spin-off books about the long-running radio drama. On television, she has written for Crossroads, Doctors and Eastenders.
About the book
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 trough. Community, family and friends rally round as her home town – and the whole country – is tested once again.
This is the second book in a new series set in the fictional department store Marlow’s. Both books can absolutely also be read as standalone novels.
The charm of this series is the normality of it all, well as normal as it can be when you’re writing about World War II. Instead of delving into the horrors of that period in history Toye gives the readers the war at home. The changes, the coping and the new structures needed to sustain everyone on the homefront.
How everyone comes together to support Beryl while she is feeling vulnerable and Gladys becomes brave enough to speak her mind. The way Lily deals with a secret that brings grave consequences with it. All of them know that they are stronger together, as opposed to letting themselves be ripped apart by the tragic losses and fear they experience.
The focus is on a few characters, family and friends and the way they deal with the heartache and the fear. It gives it a warmer feel – emotions and situations the reader can relate to. It could be your family, which is exactly what the strength of the series is.
It’s historical fiction set in Britain during World War II. Toye uses the department store to show the changes and difficulties during that time on a small scale, which makes it easier to imagine and comprehend all of it on a national scale. Women stepping into the roles of men to ensure that the country, and the war machine kept running. Families having to deal with the uncertainty of their loved one being in the midst of dangerous conflicts. Hoping every day that a death or MIA message wouldnt be delivered to their door.
The author captures all of that in this heartfelt story, which is ultimately about family and friendships holding each person together in the most difficult time of their lives. It will be interesting to follow Lily, Beryl and Gladys as their stories continue in the third book of this series.