The Shop Girls of Lark Lane

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 17 Dec 2018

Member Reviews

I am a fan of Pam Howes because she creates characters that seem perfectly placed, with depth and warmth but also weaves into the narrative some serious challenges. I really enjoyed the last series I read from her (The Liverpool Girls) so I was hoping for the same immersion into this novel.  

Howes gave Alice a really difficult start and an even more challenging middle.  Her husband returning from war to be killed so shortly afterwards was heartbreaking so I was immediately entrenched in the hardship that was about to follow for her. But her choice to allow herself to be pursued by another man, a friend of her husband,  seemed doomed from the start and I couldn't quite get my head or heart to see it the way Alice did.  Her life was difficult without remarrying but I was not a fan of the new man.  I was also frustrated because her life without a husband didn't seem to be insurmountable, she had support from her brother, friends and her mother in law.  It's perhaps a sign of the times that the need for a husband would have her still choose someone with red flags rather than be alone.   

But what I loved most about the story was Alice's love for her brother, her daughter and her friends.  This is really a novel of friendship and family relationships rather than romance.  The strength of all the women is apparent.  

Thank you to Bookouture for our review copy.  All opinions are our own.
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The Shop Girls of Lark Lane by Pam Howes takes readers to Liverpool, England in August of 1945.  Alice Lomax has enjoyed time off with her recently demobbed husband, Terry and their four year old daughter, Cathy.  Alice must return to work at Lewis’s which leaves Terry taking care of Cathy who does not know him.  They are in for a struggle until Cathy gets to know and trust Terry.  Sadie Romano works with Alice at Lewis’s which remained open during the war and it has the bomb scars to prove it.  Rationing is still in effect and items are in scarce supply.  Sadie is a single mother raising her son, Gianni.  She hopes to never see Luca Romano, Gianni’s Italian father, but luck is not with Sadie.  Luca wants to be a part of Gianni’s life, but Sadie is wary of trusting him.  Terry obtains a used motorbike to get back and forth to his new job over Alice’s objections.   Then one day the unthinkable happens leaving Alice a widow with a young child to raise.  What does the future hold for these two women?  

The Shop Girls of Lark Lane is the second book in the Lark Lane series.  I do recommend reading The Factory Girls of Lark Lane first.  Otherwise, you will be missing necessary background information on the characters.  I do want readers to know this book is dark and realistic (not an upbeat, perky story).  It shows what life was like for women after World War II.  I thought The Shop Girls of Lark Lane was a slow starter.  I had a hard time getting into the story, but I wanted to keep reading to see what would happen next.  The book picks up as you get further into it.  I like the main characters which consist of Alice, Sadie, Millie, Granny Lomax, and Brian.   Alice is lucky to have such good friends and a helpful mother-in-law.  It is a shame that Alice does not always appreciate Granny Lomax.  Brian is helpful as well with young Cathy and around the house.  Millie has met the love of her life and has plans with him for a new future in Canada.  Sadie is worried when Gianni’s circus performer Italian father returns to Liverpool.  I do not want to say too much and spoil The Shop Girls of Lark Lane for you.   At the end of the book, readers are left wondering what will happen next for Alice (cliffhanger).  I look forward to reading The Nurses of Lark Lane when it comes out.  The Shop Girls of Lark Lane is an emotional and realistic novel that tug at your heartstrings.
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For some reason I had trouble downloading this book-sorry for the lack of feedback! I'm not sure what happened.
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Book 2 in The Lark Lane series is another of Pam Howes wonderful books that make me laugh and cry. At times uplifting and heartbreaking and such wonderful and realistic characters.

Always a treat to sit down with a new addition to one of this authors fantastic trilogy’s,

A terrific read that I highly recommend
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Another great read from Pam Howes after Alice's husband returns from the war and settles into family life again a tragedy strikes and Alice's world is turned upside down with much heartache along the way before she can finally find some happiness again
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I really enjoyed this book. It was brilliantly written with a great cast of characters and intriguing plot  that kept me turning the pages. Perfect read to escape from day to day life.  A great read.
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Honestly this book just wasn't for me. There was too much drama,sadness,violence, etc. It was a downer to read. I really hate to write negative reviews but I don't want to misrepresent the book and make it out to be what it's not.
December 12, 2018 publish date.
I was given a complimentary copy of this book from Bookouture through NetGalley. Thank you. All opinions expressed are my own.
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A powerful story of strong women after the war doing everything they can to keep their lives and families together.
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I enjoyed the characters and quickly found myself becoming close to Alice and Sadie and rooting them on through their pain, hardships, and good tidings. However, I have to say getting interested in the story much more than that was a struggle for me. I felt that the story was rushed and most of the characters were underdeveloped to the point that I really starting losing interest. I was also disappointed in the abrupt ending and was wishing so much that Alice would have dealt with Jack once and for all, if nothing else for sake of her daughter, but that didn’t happen. I can only hope that the next book will tie all of the loose ends and things will be put right.
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Today’s featured book is The Shop Girls of Lark Lane by Pam Howes and I would like to thank both NetGalley and Bookouture (the publisher) for providing me with this free e-book in exchange for an honest review. I read it around the time it was released but have only got around to reviewing it now.

So what is this book about?
The book is set in 1945 just after the end of the Second World War. It follows Alice, a young woman adjusting back to life with a husband (whom she had married days before he left for the war). Trying to mother her younger brother and five-year old daughter, Alice’s life isn’t easy but through her pluck and perseverance she is able to overcome a myriad of difficulties.

What I liked . . .
Historical fiction that was fairly low on romance.  (I mean why do they keep on doing that? I came here for history not for love.)
Learning about the British struggles to live life at the end of the war.  (The aftermath of bombing was something Australia didn’t really have to deal with (well . . . apart from Darwin and Broome)).
The way everyone was trying to be a big happy family and the friendships that were made during the war lasted and continued to grow stronger.  (Seriously any book with healthy representations of friendship and family and I’m there for it.)

What I didn’t like . . .
It is the sequel to a book so I think the first few chapters would have made more sense if I had read it previously.
It did have some British (or maybe Liverpudlian) slang (e.g. ‘gel’ (which I think means girl) actually that’s it I think) that took me several chapters to wrap my head around.
There are some trigger warnings that I have to give for this book.
It contains domestic violence and rape that broke my heart (as it always does). I’d be curious to see how it plays out in the next book.
Also there were some non-violent sexual references which I thought weren’t necessary (but then I am yet to be convinced that any are).

My Rating 💭/2 originality  💭/2 engagement  💭/2 enjoyment
Star Rating ⭐️⭐️⭐️/5

This book was an alright read. It was a summer read, the kind where you pick up lazing in the summer sun, wanting to read but not wanting your life changed. I enjoyed the post-World War II story of a family dealing with its ongoing effects and would consider picking up the third one when it comes out to see how it all ends. I personally wouldn’t recommend it to people because of the adult themes but if that is something you are okay with reading, go ahead and pick it up from wherever you can find it.
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i have loved the characters in this series and also the way that these books have portrayed life in England after the war in such a realistic way.  The storyline in this book is sad.  At times it was hard to read about the pain that Alice was experiencing in her life, and I’m hoping that in the next book in the series, things will be better for her.  I like this author’s writing style and the research she puts into the settings of her books.  
This one has some adult themes in it, such as domestic abuse, so be aware of that when you read it.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher. All opinions are my own.
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Really good book about what happens to families after the war is over .  Heartbreaking and uplifting at the same time.  You will like this book,
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I am typically a big fan of historical fiction but I found it hard to get through this book. The storyline of Alice and Jack was an uncomfortable read. The relationship between Jack and Brian was off. Brian looks up to Jack and starts thinking his sister is a nag? I much more enjoyed the story of Terry and Alice and will look to read the first book to see how that one goes.
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I really enjoyed this book. Great characters and very well written. I'd love to see a follow up and will definitely look out for more from Pam Howes in the future.
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Alice is so excited her husband Terry is back from war. He has night terrors but otherwise seems fine. He was called to war right after they were married and has never even met his little girl. Alice is lucky to have the friends she has. One if them even delivered her baby during an air raid. This a series of books that keep you enthralled. You laugh and cry with these young women. You enjoy their triumphs and cry with the downs. Wonderful series.
Greatly recommended.
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Overall The Shop Girls of Lark Lane was a very good book about Alice Lomax, her husband Terry and her friend Sadie Romano as well as other citizens of Lark Lane who are trying to get back to normal after the devastation of the Second World War. The years of 1946-1950 were rebuilding years because so many buildings and other tenements as well as monuments were destroyed by The Blitz in 1940-1941. Even though the war is over, rationing is still there although it has relaxed a bit, but prices are still sky high and many people were struggling with financial expenses. Terry Lomax has been demobbed from the Navy and is trying to adjust to civilian life. At first, he tries to bond with his daughter Cathy but he fails because he has been separate from her for a long time and it was difficult for veteran fathers and children back then to forge a connection because the fathers weren't there in the children's' formative years. Terry also hasn't found a job yet so everyone relies on Alice's income which she earns from working in a haberdashery store in the city with her good friend Sadie, who is a married but single mother to her son Gianni, but also with a few problems of her own.  Eventually,  Terry bonds with Cathy and he finds a job. In addition to Cathy and Terry, Alice also looks after her youngest brother Brian who is a very clever boy who does very well in school. Alice's parents died as well as her brother Rodney, so she takes care of her younger brother. Cathy's grandmother and Terry's mother Grandma Lomax helps out Alice by regularly looking after Cathy and also looking out for Brian as well. Everything seems to be going normally until Terry is devastatingly killed in a motorbike accident. Bereft but knowing she has to get on with her life, Alice continues to keep busy with her work and take care of Brian and Cathy, although her budget is very strict. She finds she can't afford to keep financing Brian's further education even though she does very much want him to attend university and succeed in his career, so she remarries to her good friend Jack, who works at the Legion bar 16 months after Terry's death because they are fond of each other and that she can provide a better financial future for Brian and Cathy, almost everyone including Grandma Lomax don't like Jack because of his drunkenness and lack of personal responsibility to acknowledge his grave mistakes in the past. However, Alice doesn't heed their warnings and marries Jack anyway. Jack I believe had bipolar disorder which wasn't widely known at the time. Sometimes he was kind and considerate but otherwise he was a mean old drunk who was careless, rude and violent and insanely jealous and controlling of Alice. I felt the ending of this book was abrupt and bittersweet. I actually wanted to see Alice find genuine happiness after all her struggles, but the ending does offer some hope, but not much in my opinion. However, on the whole, I think this was a great book that talked about the aftermath of the Second World War where people were trying to pick up the pieces and move on and try to bring a state of normalcy into things. I like the genuine friendship between Alice and Sadie as well as their other friends Jimmy and his wife Millie and how Grandma Lomax helped Alice out and she taught me the proverbial lesson "Where there is smoke, there is fire." I also liked the fact that this book also talked about social changes such as the creation of the National Health Service (NHS) and The Beveridge Report to name a few.
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The war is over.  Alice Lomax is happy to finally have her husband, Terry, home.  As Terry settles into family life, Alice thrills over having him back from the war.  Terry obtains a job and the extra money will help support the couple, their daughter, and Alice’s brother.

Terry and a friend, Jack, fix up Terry’s old motorbike for him to use as transportation to and from work.  Tragically, on the day he tests out the motorbike, it slips on ice and Terry is killed.

Unable to see any other way to support her family and send her brother to university, Alice marries Jack.  This does not turn out to be anything close to what she had with Jack.  

Sadie is Alice’s best friend and supports her during the struggles she encounters.  The two work together and often share confidences.  

This book is part of a series. I have not read the previous books.  I found it to be entertaining.  I understood Alice’s saga and Sadie’s attempts to support her friend.  I did not realize that this was a series while I was reading it.  I felt that Jack’s change in behavior was too sudden and unrealistically accepted.  Alice seemed to forget the abuse she received and believe Jack wouldn’t repeat it.

I enjoyed this book.  It was well written, with the caveat described above.  I would suggest the readers give it a try.  You may wish to read an earlier book in the series first.
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Lovely book and a great story that I read as a stand alone novel with no issue. I would definitely read more from this author.
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*Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for an ARC of this book in return for a fair and honest review. 
I can't get enough historical fiction, and Howes latest book is just the kind I crave. "The Shop Girls of Lark Lane" tells the story of how the lives of three young English women were changed by WWI.  Interesting characters, romance, and a little heatbreak, I can highly recommend this book.
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The Shop Girls of Lark Lane will tug at your heart strings once again as we catch up with Alice and the gals of Lark Lane

This is the second book in a series and  as the book opens, we find the war is over and the men are returning home. Alice, who was introduced in the first book, is reunited with her husband who is seeing his daughter for the first time. She isn't exactly happy to share her mum with this new man and makes their adjustment rather difficult. But then, there are difficult adjustments for everyone as the women give up their factory jobs and independence and settle back into domesticity. Tragedy, sadly, does not escape Alice in this saga and her story holds more tears for her and requires much courage as she finds herself alone once again.

Although The Shop Girls of Lark Lane is part of a series, I had no trouble at all reading it as a stand alone. I suspect that it helped that I didn't have preconceived ideas about certain characters, especially as they evolved into rather unsavory sorts as the book progressed It did start off rather slowly which, I think, partly was due to the fact that the author was laying down a lot of background information so that readers could catch up from the first book. A quarter of the way in I was hooked completely and fell in love with the characters, Alice in particular, and their stories. Normally I'm not a fan of this era but this tale was well told with a lot of historical detail and human emotions. If you enjoy historical fiction then you will like The Shop Girls of Lark Lane which is available now. 

Thank you #Netgalley, #Bookouture and #PamHowes for my copy of this terrific book. The first in the series is titled #TheFactoryGirlsofLarkLane
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