If, like myself, you grew up in the UK; I’m sure that many of you have the very same nostalgic memories of Woolies stores as I do.
Growing up on the outskirts of Glasgow, our nearest Woolworths store was on the local high street and I have fond memories of spending pocket money or selecting toys to add to my Christmas letter to Santa. As I grew older, it became somewhere friends and I would go to buy makeup , jewellery, books or stationery; and it was where, in 1990, I purchased my very first vinyl – the Unskinny Bop single by American glam rockers Poison.
Needless to say, this sense of nostalgia meant that when I was approached with an invitation to participate in an upcoming Blog Tour for Elaine Everest’s latest novel Christmas at Woolworths, I jumped at the chance!
TITLE: Christmas at Woolworths
AUTHOR: Elaine Everest
GENRE: Historical Fiction
PUBLISHED BY: Pan Macmillan
PUBLICATION DATE: 2 November 2017
Even though there was a war on, the Woolworths girls brought Christmas cheer to their customers
Best friends Sarah, Maisie and Freda are brought together by their jobs at Woolworths. With their loved ones away on the front line, their bonds of friendship strengthen each day. Betty Billington is the manager at Woolworths, and a rock for the girls, having given up on love . . . Until a mysterious stranger turns up one day – could he reignite a spark in Betty?
As the year draws to a close, and Christmas approaches, the girls must rely on each other to navigate the dark days that lie ahead . . .
With so much change, can their friendship survive the war?
I see the friendship circle of Sarah, Maisie and Freda as being the main characters of the book; along with their boss Betty and their wider family groups. They are, for the most part, likeable and believable characters and I found myself rooting for Maisie and her hope to finally become a mother, that Sadie’s airman husband would return home safely, and that the once timid Freda would excel in her endeavours as a despatch rider for the fire service.
The author’s local knowledge and love of the place makes for rich descriptions which bring both the people and places to life.
Whilst this particular book is actually a sequel to Everest’s debut novel The Woolworths Girls, it can be read as a stand-alone novel; however, having enjoyed reading about the girls’ lives in this festive offering, I plan to read the previous book.
Funnily enough, it was only whilst reading this book that I recalled stories my maternal grandmother had regaled us with about her time as a Woolworths girl in the 1930s! Born in 1912, she worked in Woolies in her twenties, before leaving when she got married in 1938.
RATINGS & RECOMMENDATIONS
Everest has written a wonderfully touching tale, full of charming details of life during this difficult period of history. She presents a likeable cast of characters, equally flawed as they are endearing, and spins a story filled with hope and friendship, and a little Christmas magic.
I rate this uplifting tale 4 out of 5 sparkly Christmassy stars.
An uplifting and heartfelt story about the struggles faced by women during wartime and the camaraderie that helped them get through hardships and unimaginable heartache; Christmas at Woolworths is perfect for fans of The Woolworths Girls, The Butlins Girls, and romance novels; as well as lovers of Historical Fiction, or those with an interest in the social history of wartime Britain.
Born and raised in North West Kent, Elaine grew up listening to tales of the war years in her hometown of Erith; a location which not only features in Christmas at Woolworths but also her previous bestselling novels The Woolworths Girls and The Butlins Girls. Indeed, it was during her formative years in Kent that Elaine herself briefly worked as a Woolworths girl!
A former journalist, Elaine has also written a number of nonfiction books aimed at dog owners, as well as having penned an impressive sixty plus short stories for women’s magazines.
She still lives in Kent, with husband Michael and sheepdog Henry; where, when she isn’t writing, she runs the Dartford-based creative writing school The Write Place as well as the blog for the Romantic Novelists’ Association.
I received a pre-publication Advance Reader Copy of Christmas at Woolworths, from the publisher free of charge, for the purpose of supplying an honest review and participating in this blog tour. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.
And, also as always, thanks for stopping by!