Cover Image: Canary Girls

Canary Girls

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Member Reviews

I received a copy of this book from net galley, the thoughts and opinions are entirely my own.
I’ve been reading Jennifer Chiaverini books for a long time.  I started with the Elm creek quilters and moved onto the historical fiction (which have turned out to be my favorites). And if I’m being completely honest I have certain time frames that interest me more than others. World War 1 holds a special interest for me- so this was all right up my alley. 
One of the things I like about her books are the multi person point of view.  There are 3 main characters so each chapter is a different view point that advances the story and you can see where they all intersect and where everyone came from. I also like that each character has a different background (one was a wife and mother , one came from domestic service, one was a scholar’s secretary …) In canary girls they all come together to make munitions for the war.  It’s not just how the war changed their lives, but also working with the dangerous chemicals (TNT) that changed their health and their friendships, but also brought them altogether on the pitch. 
I also liked that this one came out on the heels of the switch board soldiers and woman’s march.  This book is just more pieces to what all was going on leading up to WW1 and the duration of the war.  You can see all these things come together and play out.  For me this one read a little like downton abbey meets bomb girls. I liked it , and would recommend it- it was a quick easy historical read
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I really enjoy Jennifer Chiaverini's historical fiction novels, and this one did not disappoint. I always learn about a time or event in history that I didn't know about. What a joy to read and learn at the same time! This book focused on the "munitionettes", the brave women who worked in the arsenals in London during WW1. They worked with deadly chemicals like TNT, making bullets for the men fighting in continental Europe. This was a dangerous job, and between the possibility of explosions and the toll it took on their health- this work was a massive sacrifice of the part of these women. The title, "Canary Girls", comes from the fact that working with the TNT turned their skin yellow and even changed the color of their hair. 
The novel moves between three women: Helen, married to the owner of the arsenal, April, who takes the job to escape the poor pay and drudgery of being a maid, and Lucy, married to a footballer serving in the British forces. I highly recommend this book. I truly admire these brave women who served in their own way during WW1.
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I learned so much about " munitionettes" and their dedication to helping their country during WW1.
Many of these women felt an obligation to help manufactor arsenal for the military since their sons, brothers and husbands were on the front lines fighting the German soldiers. They assumed if they kept "the boys" flush in bullets they could win the war quickly and thus, get their men home sooner.
Working long hours together, these ladies became like family for one another. They even spent non-working hours together. one of the most note worthy past times became football (soccer for us Americans). There was even a "Munitionettes Cup" in 1918.
Their hard work and dedication - even when work became detrimental to their health- changed the way society veiwed them. This garnered them greater freedom and fostered a strong backing for a woman's right to vote.

There is value in this novel due to it's rich historical content, but for me the storyline that was to propel the timeline of the novel fell a bit flat. I found myself skimming pages containing no dialogue. Some of the novel became bogged down with soccer matches and other non-essential information that just didn't seem necessary or significant to give the story any real value.

While not a "bad" read it is not a book I would readily recommend.

Thanks to Netgalley and Harper Collins for the opportunity to read this ARC.
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Another wonderful book by Jennifer Chiaverini! The characters were very engaging and the setting was very interesting. I loved learning about this part of the world during WWI! Another must read from this author!
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I received an advance reader copy from, and in exchange for a fair review. I am a fan of Jennifer Chiaverini, and I had high hopes for this new novel after reading "Switchboard Soldiers" last year, which was exceptional. However, this novel was not as engaging as I was hoping it would be. The protagonists weren't compelling enough, despite consistently reading the first 20% of the novel, it kept losing my attention and although I wanted to like these women, they weren't as captivating as I would have liked. 

I read more than 50% of this novel, and although it definitely improved as the plot shifted the characters to working at the manufacturing facility for shells, but I personally preferred the "Switchboard Soldiers" to this one. I rate this novel 3 stars out of 5.
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I absolutely love historical novels. It’s one of my favorite genres to read because I always learn something new. I had never heard of the canary girls from World War I before reading this book, and I loved learning about the contributions they made to the war effort and the many sacrifices they endured for their country. I also enjoyed learning about the women football leagues and how they defied the gender bias of that era. This was my first time reading a Jennifer Chiaverini novel, and it reminded me a lot of Kristin Harmel’s work. You can easily tell a ton of research went into writing this story, and I admire that. The only thing I didn’t particularly care for was some of the dialogue, especially from Helen and Arthur. It was very prim and proper and felt out of place. (Words like “shan’t” and “jolly” were used quite often). Perhaps this is just how middle and upper-class British people talk, but either way it was annoying. Overall, though, I would gladly recommend this book to everyone because it has a wonderful plot and is full of interesting historical facts. I look forward to reading more of Jennifer Chiaverini‘s work in the near future.
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Thanks to NetGalley and Harpers publishing for this early  copy of Canary Girls by Jennifer  Chiaverini. I couldn’t put this book down! I have never heard of f the Canary Girls who worked at the arsenal plants before.  In order to survive these women went to work in the arsenal plants while their husbands went to war. Because of the chemicals in the bombs the women got a yellow tinge and some became very sick. So brave!  Their one relaxing moment was playing womens football , can you imagine? Read all the details in this marvelous historical novel!
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