I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions expressed here are my own.
I’ve said this at least on 11 different blog posts here, but here goes: I love stories about women who joined the industrial workforce during World War II, taking up jobs that were previously thought of to be men’s spaces. And luckily for me, my favourite publisher noticed and started sending me such books to review!
The Shipyard Girls is one of the very first series from this genre I started reading. This is the eighth book in the series and I am as invested as ever! Read on to find out what I thought of the latest instalment in my favourite series.
Triumph of the Shipyard Girls picks up where the previous book left off. Rosie’s teenager sister Charlotte is back in town and has tough questions about her past — questions Rosie doesn’t want to answer. Polly’s husband Tommy leaves for his posting at Gibraltar the day after their wedding, leaving her hoping he comes back in one piece. And the penny’s just dropped for Helen — she finally realises why her new staffer Bel Elliot looks so familiar; she’s the spit of Helen’s mother Miriam. How the women deal with these new developments and how their friendly gang of welders help them through their crises form the rest of the story.
This entire series is about female strength and solidarity, but right off the bat, it was clear that Triumph of the Shipyard Girls was going to be more powerful than the previous books. The main storylines in this instalment all had the leads trying to navigate tough situations, be it revealing they worked at a bordello, coming to terms with the fact that their new husband could possibly never come back, or finding out how someone random could possibly be related to you.
With every book, it becomes clearer to me how strong Nancy’s writing chops are. She’s created some of the most powerful cast of characters I’ve read in a while and they’re all unique too — it’s a huge feat when you consider the exact number of women in this series!
Another thing to commend is the positive representation of sex work this book has always had. It’s truly great to read a book set during WWII discuss not just the economic empowerment that sex work can bring but also female sexuality. This really is a feminist series set in a time period you’d least expect it to be set in.
“It’s a transaction. A business deal. You want something I have and I’m prepared to sell it to you. At least under this roof it’s a safe place to conduct business, which is more than I can say for a lot of marriages.”
Like all these empowering storylines weren’t enough, this book also has a healthy dose of angst! And we all know what a sucker I am for angst. Helen and Dr. Parker’s will-they/won’t-they had me shaking my fist in silent frustration throughout the novel. Nancy can expect a strongly worded letter from me very soon about the effects it had on my heart. xD
Also, this book gave us THIS iconic line that I’m going to have framed, get tattooed on my forehead, AND printed so I can hand it to everyone I meet on the street:
“If it’s about some bloke, pet, I’d say dinnit waste yer energy. They’re not worth the hassle.”
In summary, we stan Nancy Revell. Really, really hard.
With Triumph of the Shipyard Girls, Nancy proves that the series not only doesn’t lose steam as it goes on, but becomes stronger, better, and somehow more intriguing than you’d imagined. Books about such women of indomitable spirit is exactly what we all should be reading in these trying times.
Rating: 5 out of 5
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