Saturday 27 November 2021

πŸ“– Hist Fic Saturday ~ The Surplus Girls' Orphans by Polly Heron


On Hist Fic Saturday

Let's Go back to Manchester...1922


Book #2 

My thanks to the author for my copy of this book

Manchester, 1922

Molly Watson has had enough. Engaged for the last three years to a penny-pinching pedant, she finally decides she'd rather be a surplus girl than marry a man she doesn't truly love. Aware of the need to support herself if she is to remain single all her life, she joins a secretarial class to learn new skills, and a whole world opens up to her.

When she gets a job at St Anthony's Orphanage, she befriends caretaker Aaron Abrams. But a misunderstanding leaves them at loggerheads, and damages her in the eyes of the children she has come to care so deeply about. Can she recover her reputation, her livelihood, and her budding friendship, before it's too late?

πŸ“– My Thoughts..

Those who have read the first book in The Surplus Girls' series will be entirely familiar with the notion of those women who, after the loss of so many young men during WW1 now find, in the 1920s, that there is, quite simply, not enough eligible men to go around, and faced with the prospect of life as single women they need to find a way to support themselves.

As with the first book, this second story brings alive the impact of living through times of social inequality, especially for women who were still very much seen to be of value only if they were wives and mothers. Independent women were classed as something of an oddity, however, this stalwart group of women certainly lead the way for change, but, that doesn't mean that these changes came about easily, or without high personal cost.

From the very start of the novel I hoped that Molly Watson wouldn't just settle for second best and that she would strike out for independence. I needn't have worried as Molly decides that life as a Surplus Girl is infinitely preferable to spending the rest of her life with her penny pinching fiancΓ©. Leaving behind her sheltered life and taking up employment with the newly formed Board of Health opens up new horizons and leads Molly into a job at St Anthony's Orphanage.

There's a definite sense of social deprivation in this novel, especially for the orphans at St Anthony's who, although, by the standards of the day, are reasonably well cared for, they do lack emotional warmth from some of the care givers. However, children are very much at the heart of the story, not just about what happens for those at the orphanage but also for those who linger in the shadows.

The Surplus Girls' Orphans is both heart breaking and heart warming in equal measure and was everything I wanted in a continuation of this excellent historical series. I raced through the story hoping that everything would eventually come right for those characters I had quickly come to love. Beautifully written and imaginatively described The Surplus Girls' Orphans once again brings the northern spirit alive so in many different ways. The early part of the twentieth century, with its multifaceted shades of light and dark, infuses the story with so much character that following Molly Watson's journey through this time in history has been such a joy to read.  

For those who are interested the next book in the series is available Christmas with the Surplus Girls is published by Corvus and is out now. And just to remind you that they are all perfectly readable as standalone stories.

October 2021

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 #TheSurplusGirlsOrphans #SagaSaturday


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