Cover Image: The Bobby Girls

The Bobby Girls

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Member Reviews

This isn’t my usual type of read, but I found it refreshing. Set at the start of the First World War, the author appears to have done her research. A fictional story filled with history.
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Waiting with baited breath to immerse myself into THE BOBBY GIRLS, I was not disappointed. Although it is a fictional story, it is also steeped in plenty of history through the suffragette movement of how women came to enter the police force in 1914 as Women Police Volunteers (WPV). As volunteers they were not paid nor had they any powers of arrest but they did have specific roles in which they were to assist women in attempting to prevent acts of immorality. In other words, to help control their "loose" behaviour. In addition, women were more likely to respond to women rather than men.

In a highly male dominated profession, the women came up against a lot of resistance to the idea by men who thought they would merely be creating extra work for them, rather than alleviating it. And while not every woman was a suffragette, many believed that they could play a more active role in society rather than their only value being for cooking, cleaning and producing offspring.

It's London 1914 and many men are away fighting the Great War while a call has gone out for female volunteers to join the newly formed WPV. Amongst the many applicants, four women from different backgrounds join the ranks of volunteers and go through weeks of study and training in preparation for the tasks they will be undertaking. Of the four - Sarah, Maggie, Annie and Irene - only the latter three go on to complete their training as it is revealed that Sarah is far too short sighted for the job. Devastated, she returns to the one she was passionate about - a writer at "The Vote", a suffragette newspaper campaigning for the rights of women.

Maggie, Annie and Irene become fast friends as most of the other women are far older than they are. Then when, at the end of their training, they discover they are all placed at Bethnal Green Police Station in the East End, they are ecstatic. However, upon their arrival, just about every officer makes them feel unwelcome, making snide comments about their abilities and with no provision made for them they are forced to change in the toilet cubicles, in case a male officer should enter. Only one police officer, PC Frank Bird, welcomes their arrival and is responsible for showing them where they will be focusing their attentions and easing their role into the community.

But it seems no one is happy about their presence, neither the male officers - who see them as just creating extra work for them when they call on them to get them out of whatever scrapes they may find themselves in - or the community - who laugh at the very thought of "women policemen"! But with Frank's help and the support of each other, they soon fall into their roles within the community when the locals see they really are there to help them. Their daily patrols see them gaining the trust and advice from prominent locals such as Sally from the launderette, Bob the landlord of the local pub The Lamb and the elderly Arthur. Recording their daily activities in a diary in their breaks and at the end of the day soon provides evidence of their worth and the invaluable work they carry out every day.

When the Chief Constable gets wind of their activities through the daily diaries, he congratulates them on their work and begins them on night patrols. The three women are a little naive in what to expect of their night patrols believing them to be no different from their daytime ones. But they soon discover after dark a whole other world comes alive and their work intensifies but equally rewarding.

But trouble is brewing when a face from Maggie's past recognises her on patrol and realises he could capitalise on her duplicity by blackmailing her. Maggie soon finds herself in way over her head and without confiding in her two friends, lives to regret her decision.

Each women have secrets. Maggie comes from a privileged background in Kensington but has a traumatic home life with a controlling father who instills fear and compliance from his wife and children by beating them. Not only that, her beloved brother and best friend, Eddie has signed up to fight for his country, much to the chagrin and outrage from their father. But Maggie has an even bigger secret. She has lied about her age to join the WPV, and at 18 would have needed her parent's consent...which her father would never have given. And so she sneaks out daily on the pretense that she has taken up a volunteer position at an orphanage, which would be more acceptable to her father. Annie is incredibly shy and timid but gains her confidence through her work with WPV; her only fear is the fate of her beloved fiance Richard who, when he returns on leave, is a shadow of his former self. Irene comes from an impoverished background, working another job to pay the rent on a pokey little room with barely enough to eat. She finds their presence in the East End a little too close to home and lives in fear she will be recognised.

The depiction of the roles in the early 20th century is an authentic picture of the distinctions between the classes as well as those of men and women. The poverty, the injustice, the social aspects and the attitudes the first women police officers faced has been well researched as we follow Maggie, Annie and Irene in their journey as WPVs. Although the story followed is predominantly Maggie, the other two provided good background though I do hope future stories in the series will feature the other two respectively, as they featured so little in this one.

A delightful story with some lighthearted moments, a bit of tension and a little heartbreak, THE BOBBY GIRLS is a smashing debut and promises to be the beginning of a warm historical saga.

I love how the author ended the book with some photos of the real Bobby Girls, giving a real authenticity to the story and the era. I look forward to reading "The Bobby Girls' Secrets" in May, "Christmas with the Bobby Girls" in November and "The Bobby Girls' War" in May 2021.

A highly entertaining and easy read, THE BOBBY GIRLS is perfect for those who enjoy wartime historical fiction.

I would like to thank #JohannaBell, #NetGalley and #HodderAndStoughton for an ARC of #TheBobbyGirls in exchange for an honest review.
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Great book which i thoroughly enjoyed i like these family sagas and i recommended this title to my mother.
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According to Goodreads, if you give a book 2 stars, it's ok. So, that is what I am giving this book. It gets 2 stars because there was some kind of story there and I wasn't being hit over the head with a multitude of typos or grammatical errors. That is kinda where it stops for me though.

I was so incredibly disappointed by this book, that was my overwhelming emotion. It was such a good premise for a book - four girls from different backgrounds, patrolling the streets of London as volunteer police officers, during the first world war. Unfortunately, it ended up as "Maggie's lament" instead. I thought the four characters would get to star fairly equally in the story but it was all about Maggie, with the other girls making a luke-warm appearance. I didn't even get Maggie's character very strongly in this book, she came across as naive, tactless and thoughtless. Maggie's mother was even worse - I get that her father was some horrible, controlling man but her mother might as well not have been in the story at all. On top of that, there was some weird vibe between Maggie and her brother Eddie. 

By the end of the story, three of the girls had pulled together somewhat but I just didn't feel the camaraderie that there should have been at that point. I would have liked to have read a bit more about what they were actually doing on the streets; there were a couple of examples and some passages about getting to know the locals, but it didn't go far enough. Annie and Irene were almost closed books and Sarah - well, who knows really. 

I am really sorry about my rating but it took a lot of effort to get to the end of this book and reading books shouldn't be that way. 

An extra half a star for opening my eyes to the conditions and unfairness that women had to put up with at the turn of the last century. 

2.5 stars.

Thank you to NetGalley and Hodder & Stoughton.
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The First World War has just begun. The men are joining up & gradually women are encroaching on traditional male roles. The Women's Volunteer Police has just begun. The story follows four women who are part of this force. Maggie joins as a chance to escape from her abusive father & do something worthwhile. Annie joins after persuasion from her family to help build confidence. Sarah is a suffragette & sees this as furthering the cause. Irene believes she can make a difference.

This was a well researched story. At times I found it somewhat predictable but overall it was a good read. Thanks to Netgalley & the publisher for letting me read & review this book.
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For a 1st book Johanna Bell certainly knows how to go about it.
It follows the story of the beginnings of Women Police Volunteers.. it follows Maggie, Irene and Annie through their training. Then on the beat, while following their secrets which they have hidden from each other.
A certain 5stars from me and highly recommended. Can’t wait for The Bobby Girls’ Secrets.
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A great debut book from a fab new author. Set during WW1 this book tells how the Women’s Police Volunteers got started. Johanna did her research well and put it all into a great book with some lovely characters for us to get to know. Maggie, Annie, and Irene couldn’t have come from more different backgrounds to each other. Joining up at the same time brought three very different girls together in unusual circumstances. It is lovely to see how they grow and mature together bonding into a very special friendship. Book two is due out early next year, and I for one can’t wait to read it, and to catch up with the Bobby Girls. If you like this genre then I highly recommend this book to you.
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I loved this book, the first I’d read about women Bobbies during the war. 
A fantastic debut novel, would love to read the next one. Thank you to NetGalley and the publishers for letting me read this in exchange for a review, I have put this review on Amazon.
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This is wonderful story of women at the start of World War I.
It reminds you of how attitudes have changed and what women had to endure for changes to take place.
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It was a new read from this author.  It caught my attention from the first page as we get to know the 4 girls who are the first to be trained as wpv officers at the start of the war in 1914. Maggie,Irene and Annie  deal with prejudice against women doing traditionally what is a man's job and they grew in confidence  within there own personal lives and in the force  . The girls were not paid, couldn't arrest anyone and were faced with prejudice from the male dominant force and the public.
 This is unusual  novel in that its story is based around the WPS and there are not many based on this valuable job the women did while the men were at war in circulation.
The style of writing is excellent and created an easy to read novel.  
This book is due out in April 2020 and I can thoroughly recommend it.  
Thanks to Hodder and Staunton, Netgalley  and Johanna Bell for the ARC
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It's well documented that I enjoy books set around the domestic scene at the time of both world wars and this is right up there with the best of them!

At the beginning of WWI, women have put aside their suffragette fight to pull together for the good of the country. With so many men called to war, and more taking the King's shilling every day, there are more opportunities arising for women which, they hope, will lead to the better chances they so desperately dream of. A big step towards this is the setting up of the Women's Police Volunteers force, which draws women from all walks of life. This is the story of three such young women.

This is a terrific debut and, I hope, the beginning of a wonderfully warm saga. I admit to knowing nothing about the WPV prior to reading this, and I have learned to much. The author has obviously done some thorough research enabling her to create such a fabulous tale with well-rounded characters. It's a lesson in how people from all classes lived prior to the war, and how things changed as it continued. I'm delighted to see that Johanna Bell is already working on her second book in this series; whilst the first is a good, solid stand-alone read there is so much scope to continue this story and I, for one, will certainly be watching out for the next one! Beautifully crafted and such an attention-grabbing read definitely merits a full five stars.
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London 1914 and the men are away at war. The police are recruiting women to become volunteers. We follow Maggie, Annie and Irene as they make their way through training until they are given the police station they will be working from. They are given Bethnal Green and the girls are happy to be stationed together. The male officers are reluctant to help the women, thinking that they will have to protect the women rather than them carrying out "real police work". PC Frank Bird is the only ally they have. The three girls start patrolling the streets and they make a few friends along the way. But they also come across some nasty pieces of work. Maggie also has an encounter with an old friend of her brothers.

The three girls come from completely different backgrounds  but quickly become firm friends. We learn more of Maggie's story in this first book in a new series. Her father is a tyrant who's not afraid to raise his fists to his wife, son or daughter. I liked all three girls and the way they had each others backs from day one. The story is true to the era and the author has done her research. We dont have many books covering the WPV so this made for a nice change. Everything about this book is believable. I loved this book and can't wait to read The Bobby Girls' Secrets when it comes out in  April 2020.

I would like to thank NetGalley, Hodder & Stoughton and the author Johanna Bell for my ARC in exchange for an honest review
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Johanna Bell does her research in this novel of how women came to enter the police force in 1914, after intense lobbying by suffragettes in London. With the start of WW1, the force were under pressure with so many men leaving to fight, and so the WPV (Women's Police Volunteers) came to be established. They were not paid, had no powers of arrest and had specific areas they were expected to address, such as guiding women away from prostitution, and keeping prostitutes away from soldiers. Maggie Smyth, and fellow recruits, Annie and Irene, come from different class backgrounds, coming together and forging a strong friendship as the youngest female volunteers. Their training under Sub-Commandant Frost is a real eye opener, as they spend time in court to see women being treated far worse than men, learn self defence and become acquainted with the law. They find themselves all placed at Bethnal Green Police Station in the East End.

Almost the entire male police officers go out of their way to make them feel unwelcome, and no provision is made for them at the station, there is nowhere to store their uniforms and they are forced to change in the toilets. The only police officer who welcomes their arrival is PC Frank Bird, in charge of guiding them to their role in the local community. They weather the hostility from the police force and elements of the community by supporting each other, and getting help and advice from prominent locals, such as Sally, a laundrette worker who knows everyone and all the gossip, and the elderly Arthur. They record their daily activities in a journal which begins to provide evidence that they are proving their worth in the valuable and essential work they are doing. This begins to slowly shift male attitudes at the station but challenges lie ahead.

All the women have secrets, Maggie's home life is traumatic, her beloved brother, Eddie, is determined to fight for his country, she has lied about her age to join the WPV and has to face a horrifying ordeal. The timid Annie finds the confidence her family thinks she so sorely needs, but she lives in fear of what might happen to Richard, her fiance, fighting in the war with so many men being killed. Irene comes from a desperately impoverished background where she barely has enough to eat. Bell depicts an authentic picture of class distinctions, and the dreadful position of women, the everyday injustices meted out to them in this historical period, the poverty, and the social norms and attitudes the first women police officers faced. It took me a little while to get into this, but once I did, I became fully immersed in the storytelling. This is the first in a series, and I look forward to the sequel. Many thanks to Hodder and Stoughton for an ARC.
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What a well written and thought out book had me gripped from start to finish . It was set in world war one and I found I could put myself in the story . Look forward to the next book .
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It’s 1914 London and the men have gone off to war. Three women from different backgrounds have joined the Women’s Police Volunteers (WPV) to make a difference to society and to convince men that they can do so much more than cook, clean and do needlepoint. 
The three women, Maggie Smyth, Annie smith and Irene whilst training soon become friends and when they are finishing training, they are delighted to be stationed together because of the bond that they have formed between them.
But first, the male bobbies do not take the girls seriously and think it’s a passing fad and they will go home to their mothers. But the girls are there to prove them wrong except for one PC Frank Bird who is the only ally they have.
Putting their own troubles aside, they start patrolling Bethnal Green where they are all sorts of characters. They are there to help the women not fall astray to prostitution or alcoholism as, the men come home from war.
Thank you NetGalley and Hodder and Stoughton for a copy of The Bobbie girls. Based on real facts I really enjoyed this book. The book had great characters and a gripping storyline. I learnt so much about the WPV and women’s movement. Women trying to get their voice heard in a man’s world. It shows how far women have come. I can’t wait for the second book in the series.
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An interesting story based on an historical theme that shows how women were treated in the early days of WW1. Definitely recommended to those readers who enjoy this type of book.
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I was so excited to be able to read The Bobby Girls and get a copy via NetGalley and boy was I in for an exciting read.
This is Johanna's first novel and the first of a series. It is written very well. Clear and easy to follow with depth to create real and rounded characters. I had so many emotions flowing through me as I got to know Maggie, Annie, Irene and Sarah. The idea for the plot is brilliant an it highlights a particular era of history that I wasn't aware of. I knew women stepped up during both of the world wars but as Policewomen was a new idea for me. I am super proud of all women but what women went through back then is unbelievable. Men really did treat women as if they were of no importance.
In The Bobby Girls we follow Maggie and her story about standing up to her father and creating a life for herself and standing up for what she believes in. I loved going through this journey with her from training to becoming a policewomen and facing her fellow male colleagues to being out on patrol. The dramas that unfold are written with such passion and knowledge but handle sensitively, so even though I was upset at what was happening in the story it was still exciting to read what would happen next.
A brilliant read and one not to miss if you love historical fiction set in WW1. It is great to see a novel out their that highlights what women went through to help women in the future.
I cannot wait to be back on the beat with Maggie, Annie and Irene.
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I really enjoyed reading this book.  It has a great plot, excellent main characters and I read it in one sitting!  I would highly recommend this book.
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A great book. The first book that I have read about policewomen in wartime
Excellent characters and beautifully written. Pace of book is just perfect. 
This book drew me in from page one
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I really enjoy this type of Historical Fiction. England during World War 2 is so unique, and something that most people still living in the country have not experienced. I think it is wonderful to record the lives of the many in this way.
The WPV is not something I know a lot about. It was very interesting to learn about the training and the duties that the brave women undertook.

Maggie is our narrator, the privileged girl from Kensington, with an abusive father. She is stubborn and clever, choosing Irene and Annie to be her friends on the first day of training.
The book can be quite upsetting at times, with the opposition the women receive and the abuse they endure. 
In some ways, it feels unfinished. There are a few characters that get no real ending:
Does Annie's fiance come back from the war? What happened to Sal and Arthur?
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