Christmas at Woolworths by Elaine Everest

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Christmas at Woolworths by Elaine Everest

Category: Historical Fiction
Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewer: Louise Jones
Reviewed by Louise Jones
Summary: This sequel to The Woolworths Girls continues the journeys of Sarah, Freda and Maisie in wartime Erith.
Buy? maybe Borrow? maybe
Pages: 416 Date: November 2017
Publisher: Pan
ISBN: 9781509843657

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Christmas at Woolworths is the sequel to wartime saga The Woolworths Girls, and continues the story where the first book left off. Members of the close-knit community in Erith are doing their best to pull together and keep morale high, even though the future is uncertain. At the heart of the neighbourhood, the home of kindly matriarch Ruby is a beacon where family and friends can gather for good food and conversation: a way to forget the troubles outside. Spirits remain high; even when the bombs are falling so close to home. We catch up with the three friends from the first book: Sarah yearns for peace and an end to the war, Maisie is desperate for a child and Freda would love to find romance. Will they all get their wishes this Christmas?

Like the previous book, this one is extremely well researched, with meticulous attention to detail. The author brings wartime Erith to life, detailing the struggles that ordinary families would have had to find work, housing and food in those difficult times. We see how, with so many men away at war, women found themselves in jobs that would normally be reserved for males: Betty Billington is the manager of Woolworths and young Freda gets a job as a motorbike dispatch rider. It does make you wonder how capable and intelligent women like that felt at the end of the war, when they had to go back to their previous positions.

The story wouldn't be complete without a little romance, and this time, Cupid has turned his attention to the older residents of Erith. Who said romance is solely for the young? As in the previous book, we have a likeable cast of well-written characters and we come to care about them all and wish them the happy endings that they deserve. We also meet some new characters; Gwyneth and Myfi, who have their own secrets to hide, and their story arc was one of the best in the book.

The book, like the previous one, did have some issues with pacing. The first few chapters were very exciting, with readers thrown directly into the heart of the drama. However, the story continues in flashback and the pace slows considerably before picking up again at the end. The ending was perfect; so beautifully and tenderly written.

The title Christmas at Woolworths seems confusing, as the majority of the book is set during the spring and summer months and the story actually ends at Christmas Eve, which itself is only a few pages long. The main story has nothing to do with Christmas or Woolworths, other than the fact that some of the girls work there. It is disappointing that the title of the book and cover art are so at odds with the storyline.

Christmas at Woolworths is a heart-warming reflection of the love and camaraderie of everyday people during wartime. It was a time when neighbours really were neighbours rather than strangers, and it is sad that nowadays we have lost that kind of bond with those who live in our community. I thank the publishers for my review copy.

It is probably best to read The Woolworths Girls before reading this book, as there are a lot of characters and it is useful to know their backstories in order to get the most out of the narrative.

Buy Christmas at Woolworths by Elaine Everest at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Christmas at Woolworths by Elaine Everest at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy Christmas at Woolworths by Elaine Everest at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Christmas at Woolworths by Elaine Everest at Amazon.com.


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