Saturday 11 September 2021

πŸ“– The Surplus Girls by Polly Heron


On Hist Fic Saturday

Lets go back to ....Manchester, 1922


My thanks to the author for the copy of this book

After the loss of war, can there be hope for the future?

Manchester, 1922.

Belinda Layton is a surplus girl. One of the many women whose dreams of marriage perished in the Great War, with the death of her beloved fiancΓ©, Ben. After four years of mourning, she's ready to face the future, even though Ben's family is not happy to see her move on, and her own only cares about getting hold of her meagre factory wages.

Then, Belinda joins a secretarial class and a whole new world opens up to her as she quickly finds herself drawn to beguiling bookshop owner Richard Carson. But after all the loss and devastation she has experienced, can she really trust him with her heart.

πŸ“– My Thoughts...

In the aftermath of the Great War when a generation of young men lost their lives there was a huge number of surplus girls who would never have the chance to marry, either because they had lost husbands, fiancΓ©s and boyfriends in the war, or quite simply that there just weren't enough eligible men to go around.

Belinda Layton is mourning the loss of her fiancΓ©, Ben, who died in France in 1918. Whilst living with Ben's mother, and grandmother, helps to keep Ben's memory very much alive, Belinda is still only a young woman who feels that there is more to life than wearing mourning clothes forever. Belinda's home background is one of constant hardship and struggle, and so she becomes determined to make life better for herself, and in doing so she hopes to pull her own family out of poverty. In the hope of improving her employment prospects, Belinda makes the controversial decision to enrol in a newly established secretarial college, however, this decision doesn't sit happily with either Ben's family, or her own hapless relatives who rely on Belinda wages from her job in the mill.

The Surplus Girls is set in the 1920s, when there was so much social and economic change, and I think that this story reminds us just how far women have come in the last hundred years, when in 1922, even for a woman to enroll in a secretarial college to learn typing, shorthand and book keeping was viewed with distaste by some parts of society.  Rich in historical detail, The Surplus Girls brings to vibrant life the strength of those people who made the suburbs of Manchester their home. The harsh background of mills and poverty, the snippets of northern humour, and the sheer grit and determination which is so characteristic of this area all help to make this into such an engaging historical saga. 

Beautifully written by an author who knows how to bring northern history alive in the imagination, The Surplus Girls is the first in a series of historical sagas about this forgotten generation of young women.


About the Author

Polly Heron is a historical saga writer living on the North Wales coast. She is originally from Manchester, which is where her books are set.

Twitter @Polly_Heron #TheSurplusGirls


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