Cover Image: Canary Girls

Canary Girls

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Member Reviews

I enjoyed this book. It told the story of the womwn who sacrigiced themselves through war the only way they had the ability to. By working in a munitions factory. It was interesting to read and see how their lives changed. I would read another book by this author.

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This book really just took me for a ride. I loved the build up, the character development, and the writing. I would definitely read more from this author!

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For readers who enjoy historical fiction, with an emphasis on wartime history, this book is not to be missed. The "canary girls" are women who work in munitions factories in England during World War II. Their strange moniker is attributed to the yellow hue acquired during their work.

Jennifer Chiaverini is a name probably well-known to readers who enjoy historical fiction. As an experienced author, she has again melded history with fiction, adding a glimpse into the lives of women who served their country by going to work,, and risked their health and well-being to do so.

I received this book from the publisher and and from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. The opinions expressed here are entirely my own.

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Early in the Great War efforts, Canary Girls by Jennifer Chiaverini take you back to the time when women were employed to make explosives for the war effort. This was the way women took pride in serving their country, husbands, and brothers who were serving on the front line. With little protective gear, working grueling shifts, and handling toxic TNT, the work started to take a toll on their health turning their skin yellow, tarnishing their hair, and even death. The Canary Girls were persistent despite the dangers of their work and proud to serve their country for one day rejoice in victory and peace.

Beautifully written!

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Thank you Netgalley, the publisher and author for the advanced copy of this book.

I love historical fiction and after a time away I picked this book up. Wonderful storylines and easy to follow. This gives us another take on the war years and really hits a home run with this storyline.
The characters are loveable and you cheer them on as the story progresses. Highly recommend.

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Thank you, Partner @bibliolifestyle @williammorrowbooks for the review copy of Canary Girls by Jennifer Chiaverini.

Do you know if any women in your family went to work during World War I or II to help in the war effort? My Dad was recently telling me a story about how my Great Grandma Godfrey went to work in a local factory and saved the money to put indoor plumbing in their home at the end of the war.

Canary Girls is the story of three women who worked during World War I in an ammunitions factory in London. April is a maid when she learns from her friend about the higher wages and “more fun” that she can have by moving to London to work in the ammunitions factories, so she takes her chance. Lucy is the wife of a famous football player, Daniel, who has left to fight overseas. She takes a job to supplement their income and help the war effort. Helen’s husband is the owner of the Thornshire Arsenal where April and Lucy work. She is appalled by the conditions and works to help the girls have better work conditions. The women work with TNT and start to appear yellow and have health problems. They are nicknamed the “canary girls.” The canary girls also start their own football team and play across the country.

I liked the three different viewpoints in this novel by three very different women from very different backgrounds. I enjoyed their personal stories, but I was horrified by the women working with this very poisonous substance and the health impacts. In the author’s note, it’s stated that it is unknown how many women and men were poisoned or injured due to this dangerous work in World War I.

I loved the women playing football during World War I. It reminded me of A League of their own, but with football (soccer) and in WWI instead of WWII. I was sad to read in the author’s note that women’s football was banned in 1921 in the UK. It wasn’t until 1971 that women were allowed to play professionally in the UK.

I appreciate that author Jennifer Chiaverini is able to weave together so many fascinating pieces of history into one fascinating story. There is sadness and tragedy in this story, but I enjoyed that it ended on a happy note.

I love that Jennifer Chiaverini is a Wisconsin author based in Dane County which she also states in the acknowledgements.

Favorite quote: “And for the grieving widows and sisters and mothers, every shell was a blow for vengeance, smoldering and bitter and full of anguish and spite.”

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The story of the women who work in a munitions plant during World War I England. They worry about their loved ones fighting in the war. They worry about their health and skin turning yellow due to their job duties in the munitions plant. They worry about their friends and their football team. A well written story that touches the live of the reader, as it can make you realize the trauma of those not on the front lines. Well written by a noted author of historical fiction.

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Three women from very different backgrounds sign up for war work in a munitions plant just outside London. Two work in shell assembly while the third carves out a place in administration as welfare supervisor, trying to improve the women's work lives. Shell assembly involves handling TNT which turns the women's skin yellow and their hair orange, hence the name canary girls. To keep up morale, the women form a football (soccer) team and compete against teams from other plants.
This has been described as Rosie the Riveter meets A League of Their Own, and I think that's a fair description. It's a snapshot of the home front during the First World War: doing war work, coping with rationing, trying to keep up morale while worrying about loved ones serving at the front. The plot was slow-moving, and there was a lot about soccer (which I skimmed, since I'm not really into sports, especially not into soccer). Well researched historical fiction recommended for readers who are interested in a little known facet of history.

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This book is historical fiction at its finest. I have recommended this book to so many patrons and it has been a huge hit! The story telling combined with the overall subject matter in general make it un-putdownable! I felt as though I was transported right into the times and a part of the story from beginning to end. Great read!

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Quick and Dirty⁣
-WWI home front fiction⁣
-women in service ⁣
-single timeline, multi-POV ⁣
-women in sports⁣

Well, y’all, I’ll be honest. This one was tough for me. I was expecting more history and drama around the risk these women took to work in the munitions factories and their fight for safety precautions, pay, rights, etc. Instead, it was a character-driven story about friendship and football. I started on the ebook and got about 25% of the way in and had to switch to audio just to keep my interest in the book. It’s a bit slow for my taste, with little action and lots of character development. I did enjoy getting to know the various characters and learning more about what led them to take roles in the danger buildings and continue to go when they learned they were being slowly poisoned. But I found it disappointing that the author allowed football to overshadow everything else. I love learning about the female perspective and response to wartime during WWI and WWII, so this held my interest enough to finish. But there are other WWI books I would recommend if you want more action. This one will be great for anyone who loves character-driven stories with friendship at heart.

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I have finally made the decision to set this book aside. I have read Chiaverini titles before nad have enjoyed them a lot, but this was not the case this time.

The Canary Girls is historical fiction about women getting jobs as munitionettes during the war. I can't even tell you too much about it because after reading about 30% of the book, I just didn't want to anymore. I found it to be dry and very wordy.

I am not disregarding Chiaverini as an author. Just this book of hers as it was not for me. I haven't picked it up in over a week because I just didn't want to and feel bad for saying so.

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An engaging historical fiction novel focused on the women who worked in munitions factories during World War I. It follows women from three different social classes, a former housemaid, the wife of a footballer, and the wife of the factory head. Though they're backgrounds are different, they're determined to do their part for the war effort. The other part of the book is centered on the state of the football league during the war, as the women form teams to compete. Overall, a well written account of the efforts of women in World War I and the dangers they faced when doing munitions work.

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I enjoy Chiaverini’s writing, her stories, and the pace of the unfolding tale. The Cannery Girls story also is a subject of interest to me, stories of the home front on WWI & WWII. Set in England during WWI, the actual Canary Girls were the women that became “munittionettes” and built bombs for the Allies. The TNT dust turned their skin yellow and bleached their hair, caused death to many, besides the ever present danger of explosion. Many were killed, wounded, and their health was severely compromised. Through her diligent research, Chiaverini tells their story through a masterful narrative intertwined with the stories of the factory sponsored women’s football ⚽️ teams. Very clever.

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History lovers will enjoy this fictionalized story taken place during WWI. Having never heard of the Canary girls, this proved to be a interesting story featuring three women from different walks of life. I enjoyed getting to know them and could emphasize with their struggles. I liked that the women bonded together to form their football team but did not enjoy the play by play of every event. Readers who enjoy soccer will probably like that aspect since they can visualize the game. Overall, this was an enjoyable read. Recommended.

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Writing: 4/5 Characters: 4.5/5 Plot: 5/5

A story about Britain’s World War One “munitionettes” — women who answered the call of duty and worked in round-the-clock shifts to produce the much needed munitions for the war arsenal. The label referred to a specific group of munitionettes who worked with the (very poisonous) trinitrotoluene (TNT) which over a short period of time, turned their skin, bleached their hair (green for brunettes and white for blondes), and brought on plenty of health problems, some fatal. The story follows three women from just before war breaks out until it is over: Lucy, married to a professional footballer and architect; Helen, daughter of an Oxford professor whose husband runs one of the biggest munitions plants; and April, a girl sent into service at 15, who leaves for a better paying, more meaningful job in munitions once the call for women goes out.

Chiaverini’s last book (Switchboard Soldiers) focused on the female Telephone Operators who managed the switchboards in France during WWI (at a time when every single call was connected manually). She brings the same attention to historical detail to this book managing to cover a panoply of issues from the perspective of multiple women who are driving or affected by them . These include women’s suffrage which was put on hold during the war with promises made for after; women’s football, which took off during the war and was brutally shut down by the men’s league until 1971; the massive propaganda techniques used to make men enlist; the pressure on male footballers to enlist when no such pressure was applied to the more elite leagues (golfers, cricketers, and polo players); the impact on British citizens of German heritage, the many fatal accidents at munitions plants; the hunger resulting from German blockades; the posters for “surplus women” to migrate out of country; and the Swiss Medical Mission prisoner exchange (to name just a few!)

I was in awe of her ability to weave in so much about life for these women in that time period in such a meaningful, genuine, and never heavy handed way. Could not put it down. If you haven’t read Switchboard Soldiers, go back and read that one, too.

Great bibliography!

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No one does historical fiction like Jennifer Chiaverini, and The Canary Girls is so many things. It's meticulously researched, fascinating, and also horrifying. If you've never heard of the canary girls, whose skin would turn yellow as a result of the chemicals they handled, grab this one. Even if you have heard of them, get this one. The characters are impossible not to get attached to. This is historical fiction at its absolute best.

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It's always exciting to see a new book by this author. I know not only will I enjoy a well researched and written historical novel - I will also enjoy being taught something new - a part of our history that I knew little to nothing about.

Reading to learn never gets old! Totally enjoyable book.

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4.5 stars

When you see in the book's description: "Rosie the Riveter meets A League of Their Own," it is no lie.

I give this book 5 stars for its historical accuracy, 5 stars for the compelling storyline, and, although interesting, only 3.5 stars for all of the football/soccer (I'm not a huge fan of soccer). I found it interesting to read the Author's notes on women's Soccer in Britain through the years and how sexist it all was compared to how it is now.

The work in these munitions plants is hair-raising, and I don't think I could do it even for the good of my country. Thank goodness we've invented machines to do jobs such as these. The horror these strong women face by being canary girls is amazing. It's bad enough to worry about being blown to bits, but add in the fact that none of the women complained about their yellowing skin, bleached and yellowing hair, or even the fact that the women were dying from working with TNT. It was not like it would be today.

I love history mixed with my fiction, and this book was perfect for me. I love learning about new things while being entertained by a good story. The stories of April, Helen, Lucy, and Marjorie were heartwarming. There were the expected tragedies...aren't there always s tragedies during wartime? But there was happiness also.


*ARC was supplied by the publisher William Morrow & Company, the author, and NetGalley.

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A deep immersion into 1914 London and a munitions factory where the female workers are called Canary Girls because the chemicals they work with turn them yellow and also give them disease. The setting and time period are more the subject of the book than the girls themselves.

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This book shares the hardship of women munition workers in England during World War I.

Historical fiction is my usual jam, but by the halfway mark of this book I found my attention to be wandering. While it was interesting to learn about the Canary Girls, I didn't connect with the characters and the football matches were a bit too many for my personal taste. Perhaps a sports fan would appreciate the football scenes more than I did.

I received a free copy of the book by NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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