5 April 2023
My thanks to the author for my copy of this book
Manchester, 1923: Jess Mason is determined to make her own way in the world.
When a misunderstanding on a job application means she's appointed manager for Holly Lodge, a home for old soldiers, she must convince the owner that she can run things just as well as any man - if not better.
Tom Watson has not been the same since the war. Traumatized by his experiences on the battlefield, he has vowed to himself that he must go through life alone. But when he takes on the job to renovate Holly Lodge and meets Jess, all the walls he built around himself start to come crumbling down.
As challenges arise in the opening of the new soldiers' home, Jess must fight tooth and nail to hold on to her precious new role. And as her and Tom grow closer, she can't help but wonder if there is room in her life for both love and the career she's always dreamt of...
📖 My Review..
Being one of the surplus women in the aftermath of the Great War was never going to be easy especially when post-war jobs were scarce and priority was given to returning soldiers. Attitudes towards women in the work-place were fraught with prejudice and very few women were recognised for their contribution.
Jess Mason has had to fight every step of the way and even her probationary role as manager of a new care home for ex-soldiers doesn't come with a guarantee of permanent employment because first she must prove that she's up to the task by an employer who is embarrassed at the prospect of employing a woman in managerial role. What then follows is a lovely continuation of these historical novels which have introduced us to The Surplus Girls who live, work and love in this corner of south Manchester, a place which is filled with interesting salt-of-the-earth characters who have brought the story to life on so many fascinating levels. Although this is very much Jess Mason's story it has also been a real treat to see her mingle with those characters who have come to love from previous stories, especially Vivienne Atwood, and Miss Patience and Miss Prudence who run the local business school. I especially loved getting to know Jess, she's a steadfast heroine with so much to offer and her burgeoning relationship with Tom Watson, a local builder, adds a frisson of will they, won't they romance.
As always, the author writes with such passionate commitment, bringing to the forefront ordinary people who were simply going about their lives as best they could in the aftermath of a war which caused so much personal tragedy. Beautifully written, New Beginnings for the Surplus Girls is a story of hope and friendship, and about finding love unexpectedly and going forward into a brighter future.
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