Tuesday, 5 November 2013

The Clippie Girls by Margaret Dickinson

Set in Sheffield in 1939, the book opens with the family huddled around their Bakelite wireless listening to Chamberlain declaring war.  The story focuses on three generations of women (Grace, Mary, Peggy, Rose and Myrtle), all living in the same house and who have to pull together through the hardships of wartime Britain.  The war affords the women new employment opportunities which would not have been possible before and thus, Mary, Peggy and Rose all become conductresses, also known as clippies, on the trams.

In December 1940 Sheffield experienced an onslaught of bombing and the author cleverly uses this real life event around which to set her story.  The tram on which Peggy is working is caught up in a bomb blast; the consequences of which are life changing and will alter the relationship between the whole family. Although she is injured herself, Peggy’s priority is to ensure the safety of her passengers.  She is aided by a good looking soldier and a relationship quickly forms between the two.  When he is posted abroad, the level headed Peggy, who everyone looks up to, discovers that she is pregnant.

The relationship between the three sisters, their mother and their matriarchal grandmother are excellently portrayed and I felt like I actually knew these people.  The dialogue is well executed and through which the attitudes of the time are well illustrated.  I whizzed through this in a couple of days as I was so involved with the characters and the story.

I have previously read a handful of family sagas but I certainly wouldn't go so far as to say it is my usual kind of thing.  However, my sister was a clippie on the London Transport buses during the 1970’s so this book caught my eye.  Eight years my senior she was my role model in all things and as her ‘little sister’ I used to get to sit on the bus for the entire route watching my glamorous big sister in her smart uniform doling out tickets from the ticket machine that was attached to her waist.  So, when I saw this book some time ago I couldn’t resist buying it for no other reason than the happy memories it invoked.

I‘m very glad that I did purchase this book for although  the storyline was a little predictable at times, it was a quick, easy read with a feel good factor at the end and was a very nice way to spend a wet and windy weekend.   Anyone who enjoys a family saga will enjoy this book.

ISBN:  978-0330544313

Publisher:  Pan

Price:  £3.85 (based on today's price at Amazon.co.uk)
This was a book I previously owned.

Total saving so far:    £36.57

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