Tuesday, 16 February 2016

Gunner Girls and Fighter Boys by Mary Gibson

As London is bombarded during the Blitz we are introduced to the Lloyd family, in particular two sisters who quickly find their lives turned upside down. 

Peggy is trapped in a stifling marriage to a small time crook and even the little luxuries provided by her husband’s dodging dealings do little to fill the emptiness in her life. In the chaos of war she finds a forbidden love, but will her heart be the ruin of her? 

Baby sister May, affectionately known by her family as their homing pigeon, is sensible and innocent. But with the destruction of war around her she feels like she isn’t doing enough to help in the war effort and bravely enlists in the ATS, much to the shock of her friends and family. 

She becomes a gunner girl, and throughout her training and active service on the guns, she forges important friendships that are the making of her. Separated by war and their new lives, the two sisters experience new love, new-found courage and bravery in the face of devastation, as World War Two rages around them. 

The story is centred on the Lloyd family and then extends to their friends both old and new. As the war progresses, the lead characters face so much change, adversity and tragedy and as the events are so detailed, you come to know them all so well and really care about how things work out for them. 

I really enjoyed May’s journey. Being the baby, she is so underestimated by her nearest and dearest, but she sticks to her guns (no pun intended) and really comes into her own as she resolutely follows her own agenda. Although there are a few romances throughout the story, there is a big love story with May and one of her old workmates and throughout the whole novel I was pleading that she would get her happy ending. Whether she does or not...you’ll have to find out for yourself. 

Historical fiction is one of my favourite genres, and in terms of World War Two stories, it is the role of women in the war which is a topic that really fascinates me. My own great grandmother worked in an armaments factory during the war, and when I read these novels, it’s almost like I’m seeing the war through her eyes. 

This novel encompasses pretty much the whole war, and in that time, so much is destroyed and yet with new friendships and relationships made, there is also plenty gained. It’s a sweeping saga fraught with a whole spectrum of emotions and I enjoyed every well written moment of it. With memorable characters in a story that will stay with you, Gunner Girls and Fighter Boys is a heart-warming tale of hardship, hope and history. 

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