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The Railway Girls In Love
by Maisie Thomas
Review

THE RAILWAY GIRLS IN LOVE – (The Railway Girls Book #3)

Cover image of the book 'The Railway Girls In Love' by author Maisie ThomasManchester 1941

Love is in the air, and together the railway girls can overcome even the hardest of times.

Mabel has finally put the past behind her, and her relationship with the dashing Harry is stronger than ever. That is, until an old flame shows up, leaving Mabel questioning her future.

Meanwhile Joan has made amends with Bob – if only she could do the same with Gran. And there’s still that family mystery she wants answer to, isn’t there?

As a mother and grandmother, Dot Green has always put her family first. Her job as a parcels porter has brought new purpose to her life, so is it finally time to start following her heart . . .

Life as a railway girl is busy but as war rages on and air raids disrupt daily life, the women realise they need each other more than ever, especially when there might be wedding bells on the horizon

Cover image of the book 'The Railway Girls In Love' by author Maisie Thomas

MAISIE THOMAS

Cover image of the book 'The Railway Girls In Love' by author Maisie ThomasMaisie Thomas was born and brought up in Manchester, which provides the location for her Railway Girls novels.

She loves writing stories with strong female characters, set in times when women needed determination and vision to make their mark.

The Railway Girls series is inspired by her great aunt Jessie, who worked as a railway clerk during the First World War.

Maisie lives on the beautiful North Wales coast with her railway enthusiast husband and their two rescue cats.

They have enjoyed many holidays chugging up and down the UK’s heritage steam railways and their favourite is the Severn Valley Railway.

Follow Maisie on Twitter

Visit Maisie on Facebook

“My hope for the characters in this series is that they will forge friendships that will last a lifetime, because I know from personal experience that strong friendships between women can provide support and comfort, not to mention loads of fun. I hope that you, my readers, have just such special friendships in your lives too”

Cover image of the book 'The Railway Girls In Love' by author Maisie Thomas

FIRST LINES

CHAPTER ONEFEBRUARY 1939

“With her gloved hands thrust into the big patch pockets of her rust-coloured wool coat, and her scarf wound snugly around her neck and tucked in beneath the wide lapels, Mabel Bradshaw tramped along, lifting her feet clear of the thick snow so as not to let it spill over the tops of her calf-high galoshes. The benefit of wearing two pairs of thick socks over her stockings wouldn’t last long if they got wet. Beside her, Althea her best friend, matched her pace”

Cover image of the book 'The Railway Girls In Love' by author Maisie Thomas

MEMORABLE LINES

“Be friends with one another – regardless of age or background or anything else that would normally come between you. If you can turn to one another for support, it will help you all”

.

“That’s the trouble with death.’ said Persephone. “It doesn’t happen at a time that’s convenient for all concerned, with everything neatly wrapped up. It happens right in the middle of things”

.

“I like the sound of that. “Our girls”. When I joined the railways, I didn’t want to end up being a substitute mum to my younger colleagues. I do enough running around after others at home. But it hasn’t been like that. I don’t feel like a mum to the youngsters, but I do want to watch over them”

.

“Actions have consequences. Bad actions have bad consequences”

.

“The power of upper-class expectation was indeed a wondrous thing”

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“It was a wise woman who loved her son’s choice of wife”

.

“Family and friendship. What could matter more?”

Cover image of the book 'The Railway Girls In Love' by author Maisie Thomas

REVIEW

“As war rages on, where there is hope, there is happiness”

Once again there has been a delay of several weeks between me being able to schedule in this book, and my review of the previous episode in The Railway Girls series. However as usual, I just knew that I had no need to worry, as Maisie fills in all the backstory gaps within the first few pages, without it feeling as though she is repeating herself, for any of her dedicated series readers. It’s just like catching up with old friends, when after those first few minutes of routine homely enquiries, you can get down to having a good chat and gossip, as if you had never been apart. The pages to the short, seamless chapters, simply turned themselves and passed by in the blink of an eye, leaving me surprised at just how short a distance on the physical timeline I had actually travelled – There was never a dull moment in this instalment of a series which just keeps on giving and getting better!

The Railway Girls series, which is set during WWII, seeks to highlight the extra burden placed on the women left at home, who not only found themselves working full time during the day in order to fulfil some of the roles of the men who were away fighting at the front, but who also in many instances were also carrying out voluntary first aid and fire warden duties in the evening. All this whilst the men who also remained behind, still also expected them to care for the family, doing all the household chores and queueing for hours to shop during rationing, as that was still considered ‘women’s work’.

However their story never comes across as ‘preachy’ or ‘whiney’, just some wonderfully shared, intimate and personal accounts of what are fast turning into the shooting seeds of changing times, by a small group of such women, who previously, in more ‘normal’ times, would probably never have met, let alone become firm and devoted friends, but who have now been thrown together by circumstance and necessity. War certainly has a way of breaking down all the barriers, including age and class, creating a level playing field, and just two years into what would turn out to be a very long campaign, this cosy band of sisters, are not only busy juggling a multitude of of ever-changing and evolving work-life and domestic projects and disasters, but even have a little time to contemplate matters of the heart, as an escape from contemplating what tragedies might still lie ahead of them, simply living for the day in the best way they can.

After one of the group, Joan was left staring down the barrel of a potentially life-changing decision, the stars came out in her favour and so too did her fairy godmothers! Despite the trials and tribulations you would expect from organising such an event as a wartime wedding, as air raids pound them nightly and anything with the potential to go wrong probably will; led by the elder ladies, who are totally used to the idea of ‘make do and mend’, Joan’s friends rally round her and Bob, to give them a day to remember. For the remaining youngsters in the group, fledgling romance is still in the air, and failing any more personal tragedies and casualties of war, I’m sure that more wedding bells will be heard ringing very soon.

Age is no barrier to love, as the matriarch of this close-knit group is about to discover, although true to the ingrained social mores of the time, she chooses to deal with her nemesis alone and discreetly. For Dot, who became a wife and mother whilst she was still but a girl herself, the independence she has been afforded by her war-work, is very much a poisoned chalice in the moral dilemma she is left grappling with. After much soul searching, she is forced to value what she has and stands to lose, against that which she might gain and whilst the scales tip neither one way nor the other conclusively, we are left to discover whether she ‘does the right thing’, or follows her heart.

Maisie has created and brought to life, a well developed and individually moulded cast of characters, given them a strong voice with which to tell their tale and who totally owned this storyline. They were often complex and emotional, raw, passionate and sometimes vulnerable; but always totally authentic , genuinely believable and completely engaging. The dynamics and synergy between them, makes them easy to connect with, as a whole community I could totally invest in – even the rather dour, po-faced figure of Gran Foster!

A well crafted and structured, completely immersive reading experience, written by an author who is totally in tune with her characters and skilled in the imagery of words, affording excellent visual depth to the narrative of the story. Maisie never forgets those unscripted moments though, those which are filled with spontaneous heart and humour and which she compassionately captures to perfection. Given the times the railway girls are living in, this is a wonderfully perceptive and strangely comforting story to escape into.

This multi-layered story, is a work of  cultural and societal fiction, which is replete in factual detail and social commentary, with an acute sense of time and place. Rich in atmosphere and beautifully textured, this series is wonderfully detailed homage to the ‘Home Front’ of the war effort, here in the UK.

Cover image of the book 'The Railway Girls In Love' by author Maisie Thomas

A complimentary kindle download of this book, for review purposes, was made available by the author.

Any thoughts or comments are my own personal opinion and I am in no way being monetarily compensated for this, or any other article which promotes this book or its author.

I personally do not agree with ‘rating’ a book, as the overall experience is all a matter of personal taste, which varies from reader to reader. However some review sites do demand a rating value, so when this review is posted to such a site, it will attract a well deserved 5 out of 5 stars!

 

Written by
Yvonne

I can’t remember a time, even as a child, when I haven’t been passionate about books and reading.
I began blogging, when I realised just how many other people out there shared my passion for the written word and I have been continually amazed at the wealth of books that are available and the amount of great new friends I have made, from literally 'The Four Corners Of The World'.

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10 comments
  • Not exactly my kind of read, but hey, ‘Variety’s the very spice of life, That gives it all its flavour. Thank you for the review, Yvonne, and have a wonderful day ahead!

    • Hi Angie,

      What a lovely thought! I know of the saying ‘variety is the spice of life’, but your added words about giving it flavour are so good and true! 🙂

      It definitely wouldn’t do if we all enjoyed the same genre of books and authors, would it? We would have nothing to share, discuss or talk about and then even reading might become pretty dull and mundane, as much as I love it!

      I always appreciate your visits and that you take the time to consider reading my posts at all.

      Have a great day 🙂

  • It sounds like the story sensitively gets some really interesting message across to the reader. Thanks for highlighting the series!

    • I have read a few UK centric WWII series over the years, but this one is streets ahead of the rest somehow. Possibly it is because author, Maisie Thomas, hasn’t gone down the road of giving her characters narrative in their colloquial accent?

      Whatever it is, I am finding it easy to connect and engage with both the characters and the location setting of the series and the messaging is coming across loud and clear but as you say, in a subtle way.

      Thanks for stopping by, I always value your comments 🙂

  • I’m so glad this series has continued to bring you such pleasure, Yvonne. I have the first on my wish list and hope to someday read all of them.

    • I know that this series probably wouldn’t be at the top of your ‘wish list’, especially as it is quite UK centric. However for me, it is definitely one of the best WWII series I have read and each new episode keeps me as engaged as the one before.

      Just in case you are interested though, Amazon has a great deal on that first book in the series!

      Thank you for taking the time to stop by, I always appreciate your comments and it is good to chat about the books we are reading, even though they may not always be to one another’s taste 🙂

  • Hi Yvonne! This sounds like such a lovely read. I think I’m going to check the rest of the series out and see if it will appeal to me. I think it will!

    Oh the trouble with death and all the inconveniences…! LOL. Good quote that one!

    We miss you at Wondrous Words Wednesday and hope you might join us one day again.

    I have a new blog! I’ve switched from Blogger to self hosting WordPress and we couldn’t be happier.

    I hope you are well and taking care of yourself.

    Lots of love,

    Mareli & Elza

    • I think you would really enjoy this series and the earlier couple of books are on a good offer at Amazon right now, so well worth checking out!

      I am still toying with a few ideas about where to take the blog next and I am not sure where the regular memes figure in that yet. There is no excuse for me not stopping by to check out your new WWW posts though and for that I apologise. Just posting reviews has given me back a bit of my spare-time life and I am quite enjoying the feeling!

      Blogger is quite a restrictive platform I think, so WordPress should definitely give you a bit more scope to try a different look. I hope it is working out for you both and I shall be stopping by a little later to take a look around your site.

      I promise not to be so terrible at keeping in touch and thank you for taking the time to reach out to me, I really appreciate your kind thought 🙂 🙂

    • I know what you mean, although I do wonder if they should look quite so serenely happy, being as there is a war raging around them?

      I do try hard not to judge a book by its cover, however with so many great new books and authors hitting the shelves on a daily basis, it’s very difficult not to opt for a book whose cover catches the eye, before going on to read the premise.

      Thank you so much for stopping by, I truly appreciate all the comments I receive 🙂

Written by Yvonne

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