The Liberty Girls

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 19 May 2019

Member Reviews

The Liberty Girls by Fiona Ford sees us return to the world famous store for a second time as we follow a group of remarkable young women who work there during the difficult war years. It has been several months since I finished Christmas at Liberty's, a book which I really loved so admittedly it take me some time to re-familiarise myself with the various characters and their back stories. But once I had things fresh once again in my mind thanks to little recaps here and there which I think would also be helpful for readers new to this series, I really did settle down and enjoy this story that took me back many years to a time where women always showed such great strength, courage and determination.

I have never been to the Liberty's store that that the women who feature in this book are so passionate about but Fiona Ford makes me feel like I have. Such detailed research must have been undertaken in order to make the spirit, unity and uniqueness of the shop come alive on the pages. I feel as if I was there with the girls as they worked in the various departments and did their best to keep the shop they believed in up and running when world events were conspiring against them. The Liberty Girls balanced perfectly the daily dramas that went on inside the doors of the world famous shop alongside the issues and problems the girls faced in their own personal lives at home. How they come together to form a unit that goes way beyond friendship and one which ultimately develops into a special family and makes for a heartfelt story.

The characters are all complex and some have many flaws but it is how they manage to deal with what life throws at them during the war years that makes this a compelling read. The majority of the characters that we had been introduced to in book one do feature again although some take on more secondary roles as our attention really focuses on Alice Harris. In a brief prologue set in June 1930 we are given an insight into her upbringing and life situation. Things are not easy for her as her father was a criminal who due to a sticky situation abandoned both Alice and her sister Ivy for a life in America. Their 'Aunt Dot' continued to care for them and as we move forward to 1942, Dot still features very much in Alice's life.

In fact Dot is the matriarch figure for all the girls who work at Liberty's and she is now starting to job share with Alice. Dot is someone who they feel they can turn to in times of a crisis and Alice relies heavily on for her childcare for her young son Arthur. They share a house together which becomes a focal point for the girls where they can gather and share the good times and bad. Most of the story is told from Alice's point of view and we get a really in-depth insight as she to how she is coping with raising Arthur, keeping her job at Liberty's and just getting through each day while she waits of news for her husband Luke who is missing in action.

Alice seemed to be someone who was juggling a lot of balls in the air and returning to work and finding changes afoot at Liberty's was not what she needed. Times are challenging but Alice and her friends know they have a roof over their heads, food on the table each evening and a group of great friends who would always support each other no matter what happens. Liberty's had always been the one constant in Alice's life where she can work to earn money to do her best for Arthur but she also enjoys the camaraderie and spirit that is evident amongst the girls. The girls feel that they can survive whatever life throws at them but as various things are sent Alice's way which are trying and difficult to manage, will she crumble or will she emerge stronger and resilient out the other side?

Alice was a new mum who was just trying to do her best. She was bright with a huge heart but I thought she was in danger of making some bad decisions at various points during the book. She was put under pressure with things coming at her from all directions. Ivy, her sister makes a reappearance claiming to be back on the straight and narrow and seeking somewhere to stay. Surely you can't turn away your own flesh and blood even if you have your niggling doubts as to their true intentions. I loved the way Fiona Ford wrote the character of Ivy because like Alice - Dot, Mary, Flo and Rose all believed that she was a reformed person having unleashed the shackles of her fathers bad deeds and that she just wanted to get on with her life and turn positive into negatives. In one chapter you felt that she was on a good road and had taken Rose under her wing and then in another chapter you thought hold on a minute what exactly is she up to.

I loved how throughout my opinion of Ivy changed several times over and that it showed you have to give people the benefit of the doubt until the truth finally emerges be it good or bad. I say she took Rose under her wing because Rose was still very much suffering in this book as the traumatic event that had previously befallen her had had such a huge impact on how she could live her life on a day to day basis. Alice, Mary or Flo couldn't get through to her at all. She had become a shell of a person to what she was before and I hate saying this but at times I felt no sympathy for her situation because she was just being so nasty and mean to people who had been her friends for so long and helped her in her hour of need. Rose was full of hatred and anger and wanted to isolate herself from the Liberty's family and it caused consternation, frustration and worry for people who truly did care for her. I thought the Rose/Ivy plot-line was brilliantly written and I thoroughly enjoyed all the drama that unfolded surrounding it.

There are numerous strands to the overall plot which kept the book moving along at a good pace despite the initial slow start. Beatrice Claremount is appointed the new boss of the girls department at Liberty's and she is a wagon of a character who has no time for pleasantries and lays down strict rules that must be adhered to. She makes life a misery for Alice but I loved how Alice stood up to her even though she herself got in trouble from the powers that be. This is a prime example of where I thought Alice needed to not make rash and poor decisions but at the same time it showed what heart Alice had and she hated to see such injustice was being dealt at the hands of Beatrice. At one point I did think what was going on with Beatrice was too similar to a storyline in book one with matters of the shop floor but then I suppose there had to have been drama in the shop as well as in the girls home lives as this provided opportunities to show how they could come together and work as team to overcame adversity and manipulation. I thought the reason for Beatrice's carry on was slightly weak given how devious she had been. I wanted something a little bit more substance as to the reason for her actions, I felt a better explanation was needed.

As Alice battles on the shop floor to keep the job she loves with all her heart she also has a lot to deal with on the home front. So when the American GI's arrive into town and she meets one on an overnight work trip she cannot be blamed for engaging in a dance or two and allowing a friendship to develop given how lonely and under-appreciated she feels with regard to her marriage. She faces many conundrums and decisions and it was brilliant to read as to how she navigates work, love, being a mother and a sister whilst keeping the friendship and togetherness of the Liberty Girls alive. Will Alice choose the right path when faced with so many choices? Will she have to compromise her integrity or will she just follow her heart? Will she listen to the advice of those that know her best?

No doubt about it many threats and demands are sent in the direction of Alice and the Liberty Girls which also keep the reader intrigued and guessing until the very last moment. The latter half provided us with so much drama and that's why I am really enjoying this series because it's not all shop based which could become slightly mundane and run of the mill yet at the same time amidst all the tension, misconduct, angst and misfortune there is a brilliant rapport, good will and affinity amongst the girls which was undoubtedly needed during such difficult times. My only disappointment is that I will have to wait until next year for the third instalment in what is shaping up to be a brilliant series as Wartime at Liberty's will not be with us until February 2020.
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I love the cover for this book and after I enjoyed the first book in the series Christmas at Liberty’s so much, I was eagerly awaiting for this book to be released and I was genuinely delighted to be able to get my hands on a copy!

I must say that I thought that this book was delightful! I love this author’s writing style and she has a natural ability to bring her stories, and characters to life and this book is a brilliant read and will be a treat for any fans of books set in this period.

I thought that the plot was excellent, it was very well planned out and I was hooked by the story. I had mixed feelings about the ending, I couldn’t wait to see how it would all end and I also didn’t want it to stop! It really is a fabulous story and the author really did bring everything to life for me, I am even going to go as far as to say that this is quite possibly my favourite historical fiction release of the year so far!

It is five stars from me for this one, I thoroughly enjoyed it and this is a brilliant follow up to the first book, I loved being able to catch up with the different characters and can’t wait to see what the author releases next!
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Loved this book, great plot and characters. I really enjoyed the previous book around the Liberty girls and was hoping not to be disappointed. I definitely wasn't and I can't wait for more!
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I have been a fan  of Fiona and her books for a while now.  Ever since I picked up her first book ‘The Spark Girl’.  Each time Fiona releases a book, I grab hold of a copy and hide myself away until I have finished reading it.  I absolutely adored the first book in the ‘Liberty Girls’ series, which was called ‘Christmas At Liberty’s’ and it was released in November 2018.  I couldn’t wait to get hold of a copy of the second book in the series called ‘The Liberty Girls’ and I was fortunate to get hold of a review copy of it.  Blimey oh riley, I thought that the first book in the series was good but ‘The Liberty Girls’ is even better.  I adored reading it but more about that in a bit.
The main focus of the story is a young lass called Alice Milwood, who is currently on maternity leave but the start of the book sees her about to go back to work.  She isn’t looking forward to going back but needs must.  You see Alice is married but her husband is thought to be missing.  Alice has to be both parents to her child for the moment and they need her wages to be able to have a roof over their head, clothes for them to wear and food on the table.  Alice doesn’t return to work full time but she enters into a job share arrangement.  Alice is feisty, stubborn, determined, ambitious, kind and compassionate.  It’s fair to say that Alice grew up overnight in a sense because her father did a bunk and left Alice to care for her younger sibling.  When her father was on his way out of the door I so wanted to jump inside the pages of the book to give him a darn good slap with a wet fish.  I felt ever so sorry for Alice and I was crossing everything that she would go on to make a success of her life and that everything would work out well for her in the end.  I kept wanting to jump inside the pages of the book to give Alice a hug and to give her a shoulder to cry on.
Oh my word, Fiona Ford has written another delightful book set in the delightful sounding Liberty’s.  She has created a marvellous cast of characters.  Fiona has a way of drawing the reader into the book and her writing style is so convincing that you can’t help but feel that you have become part of the story yourself.  That’s how I felt anyway.  Fiona tackles some pretty tough topics in this book but she writes extremely compassionately and sensitively.  This book had a bit of everything.  There’s drama, there’s romance, there’s a bit of humour, there are a fair view twists and turns along the way and there are some pretty strong friendships in this book.  Even when the chips are down the women pull together and find their way forward.
I was addicted to this delightful read from the moment I picked the book up, never mind from when I started to read the synopsis or even the book itself.  I found it impossible to be parted from the book and in fact, woe betide anybody who had even tried to take the book out of my hands.  The book wasn’t exactly glued to my hand but it might as well have been because it literally came everywhere with me.  The story had developed a hold over me and I feared that if I put the book down, then I would break that hold that the story had over me and I would miss something.  I am a nosy devil and hate to miss out on the gossip.  I had to keep reading too because had to discover how the story panned out for Alice, her colleagues and her wider circle of friends.  The more I read, the more I wanted to read and the quicker that those pages were turning.  At one point the pages were turning that quickly that it was almost as if they were turning themselves and before I knew it I had finished the book which I was most disappointed about.  I don’t mean that I was disappointed with how the story ended, because that couldn’t be further from the truth.  In fact I loved the author’s writing style, the era in which the story was set, the characters and the storylines so much that I wanted the book to continue on and on.  In fact my only criticism of the book is that it had to end!!
In short, I absolutely loved this brilliant and delightful read from Fiona Ford.  I can’t wait to read what she comes up with next.  Here’s hoping that I don’t have too long to wait.  I wholeheartedly recommend this author and all of her books to other readers.  The score on the Ginger Book Geek board just has to be 5* out of 5*.
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Amid the hardship of war, friends will become their family 

The Liberty Girls is the second book in the Liberty Girls series, following on from the charming first book, Christmas at Liberty’s and is set against the backdrop of the iconic Liberty’s department store on Carnaby Street in London, during the height of the Blitz. Fiona Ford trawled through the original archives of the time as she was determined to bring her readers a very true and authentic experience of the lives lived during that period. 

The Liberty Girls continues the story of these fabulous girls, but this time the focus is on Alice Milwood. Born into a fractured home, Alice’s mother passed away when Alice was only four. Her father, Jimmy Harris, a hardened criminal, abandoned Alice to look after her younger sister, Joy, as he left for America. Alice experienced some very tough years but always stayed on the right side of the law, refusing to follow in her father’s footsteps. At the age of sixteen Alice finally found a place she could call home when she was offered a job at Liberty’s. Alice thrived working with such a fabulous and supportive bunch of women, and in time she fell in love and married Luke Milwood, a handsome RAF pilot. Like many women of the time, Alice waved her husband off to war, while pregnant with their first child. But Alice was used to living through difficulties and she strived to be a good wife, a good mother and a loyal member of the Liberty’s team.

Although the story is centred around Alice, the wonderful characters from the first book are all featured. These women have been there for each other through the difficult years of the war, all the time withholding the traditions of Liberty’s. Their camaraderie is a delightful experience to read about, as Alice, Dot, Mary, Flo and Rose bring us into their personal and working lives. A fascinating fact about Liberty’s is that it was never bombed during the blitz, inspiring Fiona Ford to imagine a world that provided such beauty in the midst of such chaos. Once these Liberty Girls walked outside the doors of this institution they were immediately reminded of the horrors of the war and the impact it was having on so many, including themselves.

Alice experiences some very traumatic months, very unsure of her future in Liberty’s and of her marriage. Her sister Joy, a forever reminder of her past, brings very mixed emotions for Alice. Alice has been a mother, a sister, a confidante for Joy but how far will Joy stray before it’s too late? Can Alice save her sister? As persistent issues raise their head in Liberty’s, can Alice maintain her position there? Will the team support her or is there a possibility she is in serious trouble?

The Liberty Girls is categorised as a saga novel which Goodreads defines as follows – ‘The family saga chronicles the lives and doings of a family or a number of related or interconnected families’ Fiona Ford has taken the lives of the Liberty Girls, this magical family, and created such an engaging world that we all get the opportunity to lose ourselves in for a moment in time. Packed with so many historical insights, this series is such a pleasure to read. Who has heard of utility fashion? I certainly hadn’t….

The Liberty Girls is a such an appealing book packed full with endearing characters that worm their way into your heart. The women of Fiona Ford’s imagination are generous of spirit, loyal to the core and so very strong but more importantly, based on those incredible women who kept the show on the road during the Second World War.
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Firstly I would like to thank Arrow for asking me to review this book and to be apart of the blog tour. I am also very excited to be able to welcome Fiona Ford to my blog in a brilliant interview which you can find further below. Thank you so much Fiona for taking the time to answer my questions.

I adore The Liberty Girls. Having read the first in the series The Liberty Girls at Christmas I was hooked. I feel in love with the setting of the story, the characters and the period its set in. Fiona has such a way with words that she draws you completely into her story. I felt every emotion that the characters feel.

In this story we follow Alice, who is a strong women who knows what she wants from life and is determined to give her son what she never had. The American GI’s have landed in this series and Alice’s life gets complicated when she meets one certain good looking American GI. Alice’s home life is not the only thing with complications her work life soon becomes difficult. Alice and her Liberty Girls soon have to lean on each other for support.

If you love wartime sagas then this is most defiantly a book for you. I loved it and really looking forward to ready more from Fiona.

Read Fiona’s Interview below to find out more about The Liberty Girl’s.
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It's the second book I read in this series and it was a pleasant and engaging read.
I'm starting to think about the girls as friend and I root for them and I'm happy to see their achievements and feel sad for their trouble.
The historical background is amazing, well researched and lively, it makes you feel the atmosphere of London during WWII.
The characters, well written and fleshed out, are relatable and their individual story are both heartwarming and heartbreaking.
I look forward to reading the next installment in this series.
Highly recommended!
Many thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for this ARC, all opinions are mine.
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This is the second book in the Liberty Girls series.  It can be read as a standalone book but to understand the story I would recommend reading in order.

This sequel to Christmas at Liberty’s begins in 1942.  War is still raging and Alice Milward is preparing herself to go back to work at Liberty’s Department Story.  Her little boy, Arthur is only 4 months old, but with Alice’s husband Luke missing, presumed dead, Alice feels she has no choice but to return to work to give Arthur the best start in life.  She settles back into work but when American GI’s arrive in London, Alice and the other girls working at Liberty’s find their appearance brings more problems.

I loved the first book of the series, so I knew I would be reading this one!  This book flowed straight on from the first book and even though it’s been a while since I read it, I reconnected with all the characters and the fabulous Liberty’s Store straight away.  Alice’s character is very likeable and I really enjoyed her story.  As so many other women at that time, Alice has a lot to deal with at home.  Her husband is missing and she has no idea if he will ever get to see his son Arthur and this was particularly sad as I would imagine there were many women who were in this situation.  I love the relationship that Alice has with her friends at Liberty’s and it’s lovely to see that they all rally around each other in times of trouble.

The story is, like the first book, very well researched and you are instantly transported to the war torn London streets and into the fabulous department store as soon as you start to read!  Liberty’s sounds absolutely wonderful and I could just imagine the hustle and bustle as the store goes about its business.  The descriptions of the store gave me not only vivid pictures as to how grand it must have looked, but how difficult it must have been to have worked in a store of that scale at that time!

I loved the story and all its characters.  It tugged on my heartstrings just the right amount, yet still filled my heart with joy and happiness with how the people during that time made the best of a very bad situation.  Would definitely recommend and I can’t wait for the next book in the series!
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What a fantastic book i have loved catching up with Alice,Dot,Flo,Rose and all the other members of Liberty's.When Alice and her friends arrive for work they find that Mrs Claremont is set on spoiling the friendships that have been forged between the staff of the fabric department.Alice has a lot contend with at home and it seems at work too,praying that her husband who is missing in action finds his way home.There is an aweful going on in Liberty's and i don't want spoil it for others but i must say that Fiona Ford writes a fabulous story that draws the reader in to the story and i love that in a book.Well Done to the Author.5*
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I loved this book and would highly recommend it to all.  It has a great story line, brilliant main characters and is a real page turner.  I couldn't put this book down.
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