The Canary Girls by Rosie Archer
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
The Canary Girls is historical fiction set in and around the coastal town of Gosport in Hampshire. Gosport lies next to the naval port of Portsmouth so the area was very busy during WW2. This is book 2 of a series and begins in 1944.
Rita works in a munitions factory with friends Em, Lizzie and Gladys. Rita works on the production line which puts TNT into shell cases, the women are exposed to dangerous chemicals, particularly tetryl which yellows the hair and skin, hence their nickname and the book title, “The Canary Girls.”
The book revolves around the storyline of secrets being leaked to the Germans, there are quite a lot of characters each with their own tale. For me this drew the book away from the main theme and made it more of a light read.
There were occasions where areas of dialogue were used for info dumping, making the dialogue unrealistic. I would have liked to have read about the historical evidence in a more subtle manner. Rather too many he said, she said and other simple dialogue tags, where opportunity for more expressive tags would have given each character more depth and personality.
The storyline was interesting and did have an engaging ending, and I must mention the great book cover, but for me it didn’t quite have the wow factor I was hoping for.
Find a copy here from Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com
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I’m not a fan of exposition either, and I think authors get pushed into giving away information in dialogue by a lot of bad advice around the whole ‘show don’t tell’ thing. With some books – I’m talking traditionally published ones here – I do wonder whether the editor had a heavy hand in this 😉 Sounds like a really interesting book, and I love that cover – thanks for sharing your review, it’s definitely made me want to find out more.
Thanks Joanne, sounds like you’ve seen how authors can get pushed in different directions, but not always the best ones for the readers.
I’m allergic to exposition, I hate it so much I panic about it giving any info at all in my own dialogue!!! I have read (or started to read) a few ‘nostalgia’ books over the last year (with that sort of cover!) and many of them do it – yes, I wonder if the editor/publisher sees the nostalgia selling point as more important than how well the book is written!
I don’t write historical fiction but can imagine it’s difficult to try and keep a balance between the historical background necessary to make the story come alive and making it clanky. It sound like an interesting story and I do love the cover too.
You’re right Olga, how to make the book authentic for it’s setting without upsetting the flow of the narrative – tricky.
This sounds like my kind of book, but I agree that exposition can spoil a good story. Anyone who ever watched television’s New Tricks will understand how frustrating it can be. What a brilliant cover.
Hi Marilyn, yes this book is the same era as your “Baggy Pants & Booties” book.
Reblogged this on Barrow Blogs: and commented:
Information dumping in a book.is the one thing that stands out for me as a reader.. It’s a shame that an editor hasn’t advised the author because it does sound to be an interesting.book.
Too bad about the exposition, which ruins this novel for me.
Characters talking at one another instead of to one another is problematic. Dialogue is not the place for exposition, except in very small doses. Still, the story sounds interesting. Working in a munitions factory? Not something I’d want to do!
I also like the title of the book and the time-period cover. Thanks for sharing, Rosie. 🙂
Oh, my! Such a terrible reason for the nickname, “The Canary Girls.” This sounds very interesting.
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