Genre: Literature and Fiction, Historical, War, Military
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Publication Date: February 5, 2019
Print Length: 366 pages
- ISBN-10: 1542044529
- ISBN-13: 978-1542044523
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title and Cover: The Beantown Girls – Photo representative of the era
A novel of love, courage, and danger unfolds as World War II’s brightest heroines—the best of friends—take on the front lines.
1944: Fiona Denning has her entire future planned out. She’ll work in city hall, marry her fiancé when he returns from the war, and settle down in the Boston suburbs. But when her fiancé is reported missing after being shot down in Germany, Fiona’s long-held plans are shattered.
Determined to learn her fiancé’s fate, Fiona leaves Boston to volunteer overseas as a Red Cross Clubmobile girl, recruiting her two best friends to come along. There’s the outspoken Viviana, who is more than happy to quit her secretarial job for a taste of adventure. Then there’s Dottie, a shy music teacher whose melodious talents are sure to bring heart and hope to the boys on the front lines.
Chosen for their inner strength and outer charm, the trio isn’t prepared for the daunting challenges of war. But through it all come new friendships and romances, unforeseen dangers, and unexpected dreams. As the three friends begin to understand the real reasons they all came to the front, their courage and camaraderie will see them through some of the best and worst times of their lives.
The “Greatest Generation,” those Americans who lived and fought through the second world war are now in their late 80s and 90s. There is an average of 362 (according to Wikipedia) from the generation dying every day. Fortunately, there were thousands who penned accounts of their experiences sufficient to leave a legacy of the human spirit, endeavor, valor, and hope during that horrendous conflict for the succeeding generations. Many women left their homes, their families and loved ones to volunteer service in any way they could find to help support the effort of the men. One of those historic unknown volunteer groups was the Red Cross Clubmobile participants, so-called “donut dollies.” It wasn’t easy to get accepted, only one in six accepted. The initial qualification required being single, college graduate, and over the age of twenty-five.
In July 1944, Fiona, Dottie, and Viv, best friends from Boston, made the cut and found themselves on the troop transporter on their way to London for training and it’s not long after their arrival they are introduced to “buzz bombs.” Their Red Cross mission is to help raise morale among the troops, bring some American girls over to remind them why they are fighting, and provide a break, a snack, some swing music or jazz, a little bit of home and a pack of Chesterfields, Lifesavers, donuts, and coffee.
And they make donuts.
By the thousands.
They learn to drive the Clubmobile, but with all that weight and bulk, only a four-and-one-half gallon gas tank. They are watched, judged, graded, and sent to the Continent to provide the same boost of morale as they had in the U.K., except, they were subject to far worst conditions than buzz bombs. And they were ill-prepared for just how bad it would get.
This narrative is heartbreaking as it is emotionally inspiring. The author creates such a kaleidoscope of sights and sounds, you are drawn in and invested heavily in the three friends and their Clubmobile buddies, each so well-developed you ache for their trials and celebrate their victories.
You quickly learn to love these characters and fear for their safety. Each of the three has their own reasons for entering the program. Fiona knows that her fiancé was shot down, but doesn’t know if he survived or is lost or a prisoner of war. She’s determined to find out. Dottie is an untapped musician and soloist, but cripplingly shy. Viv (Viviana) is the most outgoing, almost outlandish, but instantly creates a connection to the GI’s who mob the vehicle wherever it goes. It is perhaps serendipitous that each will eventually be attracted to a member of the services in one capacity or another. And the missions apart are frantic.
I just love discovering new women heroes previously unknown and unsung. The author went to great lengths to research and pull together accounts that collectively created a beautiful, engaging story from beginning to end. The ladies managed to exhibit extreme initiative and bravery when the situation could provide no other alternative and somehow they managed to prevail. It’s a story of deep friendship, love, loss, and triumph of the human spirit in the face of ultimate depravity.
I was excited to receive this ebook download by the publisher and NetGalley and greatly appreciated the opportunity to read for my unbiased opinion. And I honestly loved it! Heartily recommend to all, whether historical fiction fan or not. It is an important and soul-satisfying story.
The Author: Jane Healey shares a home north of Boston with her husband, two daughters, and two cats. When she’s not writing historical fiction, she enjoys running, reading, cooking and going to the beach. For more information on the author, her work and upcoming events:
Twitter and Instagram:@healeyjane
©2019 V Williams