Rose and Myrtle Sylvester look up to their older sister, Peggy. She is the sensible, reliable one in the household of women headed by their grandmother, Grace Booth, and their mother, Mary Sylvester. When war is declared in 1939 they must face the hardships together and huge changes in their lives are inevitable. For Rose, there is the chance to fulfil her dream of becoming a clippie on Sheffield’s trams like Peggy. But for Myrtle, the studious, clever one in the family, war may shatter her ambitions. When the tram on which Peggy is a conductress is caught in a bomb blast, she bravely helps to rescue her passengers. One of them is a young soldier, Terry Price, and he and Peggy begin courting. They meet every time he can get leave, but eventually Terry is posted abroad and she hears nothing from him. Worse still, Peggy must break the devastating news to her family that she is pregnant. The shock waves that ripple through the family will affect each and every one of them and life will never be the same again.
Margaret Dickinson has published thirty novels in her career so far and is currently celebrating her 20th year and 20th novel as an author with Pan Macmillan. Her family sagas and historical romances have a huge following but until now I’ve not read one of her books so I decided to find out what I was missing out on! The Clippie Girls caught my eye because it is set in Sheffield, a city that I think of as my second home. I also love wartime historical novels and romances!
From the first pages, it’s clear that Margaret is an experienced and entertaining author; from the opening scene where the family listen to the announcement that war has been declared and the five women who form a family unit react in their individual ways, my attention was captured and I couldn’t wait to find out what would happen to them all.
This is a warm, dramatic and enjoyable story of five women and the way that the Second World War changed their lives and their city. Although not overburdened with historical detail, the events of the Sheffield blitz are recounted and the heartbreaking impact of the bombings given a very personal and heartfelt touch through the individual experiences of the Sylvester women. I found the details of Rose and Peggy’s work as clippies on Sheffield’s trams fascinating too.
Margaret Dickinson skilfully weaves a a wonderful wartime romance into the novel as Peggy meets the handsome Terry but their story comes with a large dose of controversy as their relationship causes heartbreak and drama within the family and Peggy finds herself at the centre of a complex love triangle. Peggy and Terry’s story kept me turning the pages as fast as I could and as soldier Terry is posted abroad Dickinson cleverly kept the twists coming, maintaining the mystery of what the final outcome would be right to the end of the novel.
There are five strong women leading this novel and I liked them all. Gran Grace was a favourite with her no-nonsense approach and knack of knowing exactly what was really going on in each of her granddaughter’s lives. I also loved Myrtle who is the baby of the family but bright and clever and often made me smile. The relationships between the sisters and their mother and grandmother are lovely to read and I was rooting for them all to come through the story unscathed.
The Clippie Girls is a great family saga to cosy up with and I enjoyed the mix of romance, history and drama. I loved reading about the history of a city I know well and felt Margaret really captured the spirit of the city and its residents. I’ll be looking forward to reading more of Margaret Dickinson’s books in future.
I’d like to thank the publisher for sending me a review copy of this book.
Find out more about Margaret and her novels at: http://www.panmacmillan.com/author/margaretdickinson