Journeying with Pam Howe's The Girls of Victory Street
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Pam Howes takes you on an emotional journey with Bella and her friends, Fran and Edie who were on the brink and in the midst of WWII.
While reading The Girls of Victory Street, we’re introduced to 15-year-old Bella who is forced to quickly grow up quickly after the death of her youngest sister and news of impending war. I loved how her character takes on a leadership role within the singing group that her and her friends form, The Bryant Sisters, in efforts to earn a living and boost morale for the community.
I liked how the author wrote about the not so pretty side of lower class living in England during the late 30s. It brought a touch a realism into the story that made me feel like I was right there experiencing it all with the characters.
When Bella’s five-year-old sister, Betty passed away, it made my heart ache. But this is where the book started to get a little disappointing. I found Bella’s grief very distant and lacking emotion. I felt wanting to know more and the story progressed way too quickly for my liking. Normally, I like progression, but it skipped a lot of details and feelings.
After Bella discovers that the man she loved, Bobby impregnated his childhood friend, she moved onto Earl, a black American soldier who joined up with the band that played for The Bryant Sisters. Her perception that she as a white woman was dating a black man in the 40’s as not a big deal, was completely unrealistic. To this day, we’re still dealing with racism and it was certainly not as progressive back than as it is today. I believe that since the story was going to cover interracial relationships and then even having Bella give birth to Earl’s son, it should have been given the detail it deserved for such a important topic. Bella for sure would have faced discrimination and harsh words from people during that era; but instead, she floated through her relationship with Earl with almost no issues.
With that being said, the story was enjoyable, and I grew to emotionally invest within the characters’ lives. I look forward to reading the upcoming novels in the series.
Overall, The Girls of Victory Street is a heart wrenching story that will deliver misty eyes, yet leaving you expecting a lot more.
Thank you to Bookouture and NetGalley for the advanced reader’s copy.
From Amazon bestseller Pam Howes comes an emotional World War Two saga about three young women whose bravery and friendship will see them through the darkest times. Liverpool, 1939. Bella Rogers thought her life was just starting; she can’t wait to get married to her childhood sweetheart, Bobby. But when war is declared and Bobby is called up, his letters stop, leaving Bella heartbroken and alone. Then her family is torn apart by tragedy when her angelic five-year-old sister dies from a terrible illness. They can barely afford a funeral, but the church is packed with the entire community, devastated for their loss. Grieving for her sister and lost love, Bella finds a job at the Bryant and May factory, making matches. As bombs begin to fall, Bella gets the workers singing, keeping spirits high amidst the fear. When she meets a handsome American airman, Earl Franklin Jr, Bella’s heart finally starts to mend. Earl encourages her passion and soon she and her friends are offered the opportunity of a lifetime: to travel the country’s army bases, entertaining the troops and singing for victory. They name themselves The Bryant Sisters. Just as her life is getting back on track, Bella finds herself pregnant – and Earl reveals a shattering secret that changes everything about their future. Devastated, she flees home to Liverpool, but as an unmarried mother, will her family reject her? And, as she faces a terrible sacrifice, will she ever sing with The Bryant Sisters again? A heartbreaking historical novel about women in wartime, friendship, family and hope. Perfect for fans of Nadine Dorries, Diney Costeloe and Wives of War.
Pam is a retired interior designer, mum to three daughters, grandma to seven assorted grandchildren and roadie to her musician partner. The inspiration for Pam’s first novel came from her teenage years, working in a record store, and hanging around with musicians who frequented the business. The first novel evolved into a series about a fictional band The Raiders. She is a fan of sixties music and it’s this love that compelled her to begin writing.
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