New to me author Rosie Clarke is on the blog today with the first in her pre-war family saga, Mulberry Lane. Full of hope, secrets, love and loves lost, please read on for my review of
The Girls of Mulberry Lane
London is preparing for a war, with the drumbeats on the horizon in 1938, Mulberry Lane and her residents in London’s East End have just started to find some sort of normalcy in life, but after the last war, nothing is ever quite the same. Spanning a 2 year period, the story focuses on Maureen, stuck caring for (and managed by) an overbearing father, she’s lost much of the hope she had in love and its power to transform her life. Returning to Mulberry Lane we also meet Rory, love of Maureen’s life but with a new, and pregnant, wife in tow. Janet, with her parents Peggy and Laurence run the Dog and Pheasant, the pub on the lane. Janet wants to marry Mike and start her life, but her father refuses to let them marry. Laurence was never quite the same after returning from the last war, and the last thing he wants is for any of his children to know that heartbreak and hardship. Both of his sons want to sign up, and his daughter wants a man who will more than likely go to war as well. With his own worries about being returned to duty, and his fear for his own children, Laurence is adamant that life stay the same for his little family, and the war doesn’t intrude.
As in most places, there is a center for the activity, advice, conversations and dream sharing, and that just happens to be the local pub. See Mulberry Lane is like most of its day: a small neighborhood within the city, where everyone knows everyone else, friendships are a given, and advice is free flowing. Quickly Clarke develops the story and presents the characters, flaws and all, to the reader, allowing us to see the spoken and unspoken, interactions and avoidances, and even the gossip and worry that the war will bring to the country and the lives of those we are getting to know.
While Maureen is dealing with love lost and her own family issues, Janet overrode her father’s refusal to marry and has ended up pregnant, now married to a serviceman and realizing that life as she imagined it is a far cry from her often romantic fantasies. Her mother Peggy is always willing to listen and lend a hand, with advice and time, but Janet’s realization that marriage, particularly in these troubled times isn’t easy, and she isn’t quite mature enough to actually find her own coping mechanisms, relying on Peggy who has plenty to deal with when it comes to her own marriage.
Each character is well-rounded and presented as a functional being, we see them change and grow, feel their slights and the slow adjustment of their dreams, struggles and actions. Yes, despite his wife, Maureen still yearns for Rory, although tied into caring for her father and discovering his misdeeds becomes more of a burden, daily. A true ‘slice of life’ story that keeps readers wondering and learning, providing answers and new questions nearly every page. While not a particularly action-packed read, it is character and motivation driven, with enough drama to keep readers engaged while telling the story. Yes, there are still some questions and some situations that aren’t fully resolved, but these are characters that stay with you, and call you back. I’m ready for the next.
Title: The Girls of Mulberry Lane
Author: Rosie Clarke
Series: The Mulberry Lane #1
Genre: Family Saga, Historical Fiction, Setting: Britain, Woman's Fiction, World War II
Published by: Aria
Published on: 1 August, 2017
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Audio Length: 8 Hours: 54 minutes
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Love, marriage, birth, death and betrayal make up life in Mulberry Lane, perfect for fans of Nadine Dorries and Cathy Sharp.
Maureen Jackson is a prisoner of her father's blackmail. Three years ago, she'd been hoping to marry Rory, the man of her dreams. However after her mother's death Maureen was left to care and work for the overbearing father who claimed he couldn't manage without her. Now Rory is back in London with a pregnant wife in tow and reminds Maureen of the life that should have been hers.
Janet Ashley is the daughter of Peggy and Laurence, landlords of the local pub The Dog and Pheasant on Mulberry Lane. With the war looming, Janet hopes to marry her sweetheart Mike, but her father refuses to grant them his blessing. Going against his wishes Janet finds herself pregnant and Peggy is determined to hold her family together at all costs.
The Girls of Mulberry Lane is the first in a series set in London's East End during WW2.
A copy of this title was provided via Publisher via NetGalley for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.
Reading this book contributed to these challenges: