Beryl Kingston comes to the blog today with a re-release of a 1995 title Alive and Kicking, a story of family, loss, love and survival in
A Stitch in Time
Rose, her two sisters Nettie and Mabel, two brothers Bertie and Col all live in London, hand to mouth in two rented rooms at the advent of World War I. Life isn’t easy, but they all muddle on and just make ends meet: quietly taking one step at a time. Knowing that things are tight, Rose starts working at the ‘great house’ for Augusta Monk – a difficult if very rich woman: the money is welcome and her quiet nature (if much comes from biting her tongue) means she lasts longer than most, a necessity when her brother Bertie joins up and she and her younger brother Col are the only ones bringing in money. A keen eye and a talent for reworking old garments, Rose’s skill with a needle keeps her little family well-dressed, and her skill with a needle will bring her a way out of poverty. Eventually.
This was a sweetly drawn story full of the struggles of wartime Britain and the associated losses, highs and lows. Through it all, Rose and her little family now consists only of she and her sisters, and a friend welcomed in after her time as a ‘companion’ to the cousin of Rose’s employer. A small cottage-industry is started with dresses made more stylish but affordable to the women in her neighborhood, the story follows their lives through loves, deaths, losses and gains, as the little group slowly works their way through the war and after, making a mark on the world through Rose’s fashion and business sense.
While I appreciated the author’s characterizations and the emotional ties that bound the women together in their own little ‘band’ of sisters – the entire story has a rather rose-colored tint when in comes to the upward mobility of Rose. England was in fact going through a ton of changes, socially, but the sharp rise from poor and hardscrabble to ‘respected businesswoman’ for Rose was entirely fabricated and far too optimistic. Sure, in her own neighborhood she’s a rarity and thing of wonder, but outside that small and ‘samey sounding’ group – her “ain’ts’ long vowels and ‘finks’ are dead cert giveaways to her background – add female to that and there isn’t a way that she would have found such ‘acceptance’ from either the powers that be or the Manchester Mill owner. It just doesn’t work. But, if you can ignore that and forgive the overly simplistic ending with a seriously rose-colored bow, the story is engaging and smile-inducing, a bit of candyfloss for an afternoon.
Title: A Stitch in Time
Author: Beryl Kingston
Genre: British, Family Saga, Historic Woman's Fiction, Setting: Britain, World War I
Published by: Agora Books
Published on: 26 November, 2018
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Get Your Copy: Amazon ♦ IndieBound ♦ Book Depository
Rose’s life is about to be torn apart by war, but can she and her sisters piece together a new life in a rapidly changing world?
London, 1914: Rose Boniface and her orphaned siblings live a small but happy life in South-East London. But when war breaks out across Europe and her older brother enlists, nothing will ever be the same again.
As men leave for the war in droves, the girls must take on whatever work they can find to make ends meet. High-risk work in munitions factories and back-breaking domestic labour seem to be all that’s available to them, but Rose has other ideas…
A tale of love and heartbreak, triumph and resilience, this sweeping saga by best-selling author Beryl Kingston takes the reader inside the extraordinary lives of ordinary women in Wartime London.
A Stitch in Time was first published in 1995 as Alive and Kicking.
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: