Cover Image: The Hazelbourne Ladies Motorcycle and Flying Club

The Hazelbourne Ladies Motorcycle and Flying Club

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Member Reviews

Thank you to NetGalley, Random House Publishing, and Helen Simonson for allowing me to read the ARC in exchange for an honest review.

There were lots of changes for women in 1919, when the men returned from war and needed their jobs to support their families. Women were expected to give up these jobs that they had performed so well and enjoyed. One such person, Constance Haverhill, had to give up her job on an estate, which included the cottage where she lived. Finding a job wasn’t that easy, so she accepted a temporary job of helping an ailing family friend at the seashore. While there, she is befriended by the delightful Poppy Wirrall, who wears slacks and has a motorcycle taxi business. Put your imagination to work. Add in Poppy’s brother who seems fond of Constance and you are set for a great adventure!

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Welcome back, Helen Simonson. We have missed you. How pleasant and wonderful to be in Simonson's new historical novel, this one taking place just after the end of World War I in England. It feels like going back in time to meet the most finely drawn characters who become people you will admire, love and some you will detest.

Constance, a talented young woman, comes face to face with the fact that now, with servicemen coming back from the war, women will lose the jobs they were needed in. She works as an aide to Mrs. Fog, her friend Rachel's grandmother, and is constantly told by Rachel's mother that she should resign herself to life as a governess. Post 1918 flu, piling further losses upon losses, Constance has left her brother's farm following the death of her sister-in-law's baby.

Constance meets Poppy in a seaside village. Poppy runs a motorcycle taxi service along with a group of women. If you find engineering fascinating, you will get quite an education regarding motorcycles and Sopwith Camel airplanes. You will also learn a lot about estate management, British society, Indian royalty, and living with an amputated limb. Is it a lot? Yes! But every page is filled with Simonson's gripping prose. The novel is lengthy, but worth it. Several suspenseful scenes will have you reading on the edge of your chair. At the end, you will sit back with a satisfied smile.

Thanks to The Dial Press and Netgalley for the opportunity to read this early copy.

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I am 26% through this book, It has so many storylines and people that I cannot keep it all straight. Plus, nothing is happening really. It is very descriptive and slow. Additionally, there are so many words used that are either very British in style or words that are pure SAT words that I have to stop quite frequently to look up definitions. Yes, I love to learn new words, but not in every single paragraph.

I'm so sorry not to finish this book, but it just didn't work for me.

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This charming historical novel meets us in Britain as WWI is coming to an end. It centers around high society women and the roles they assumed while the men were in the war. As the men come home, the women find themselves undervalued and displaced. Can a group of fun and adventurous female entrepreneurs provide a haven for female jobs, or will their carefree, sometimes raucous behavior be too much for Hazelbourne to handle? Thanks to Dial Press and NetGalley for the ARC. This is my honest review.

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3.75 stars rounded up to 4.

As the book started, I was entranced by the life of Constance and her companion Mrs. Fog. We watch as we get to know the hotel, its guests and the women in and around the hotel.

Then, the pacing falls off a bit and it was necessary to keep reading as the characters are compelling and I was curious as to their fate. However, the story was very slow and there were several times I considered not finishing.

As always, I’m so glad I finished. The last third of the book was charming and heartwarming. Constance’s character grew by leaps and bounds, as did Mrs. Fog, Harris and Mrs. Wirrall. The beauty of the story was truly in the characters that were redeemed and grew to be better people. They found happiness and purpose, and the end for these characters felt very complete.

Advance Reader copy provided by NetGalley and Random House but all opinions are my own.

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I thoroughly enjoyed this novel about the displacement of British women who worked for the war effort during WWI and then had to give up their jobs to returning war veterans. It is a character driven novel with quite a bit of social injustice and romantic undertones. Great characters, a well placed plot and a bit of intrigue kept me turning the pages. I read it straight through in two days. Highly recommended

Thanks to NetGalley and The Dial Press for an advanced reader copy.

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The Hazelbourne Ladies Motorcycle and Flying Club is generally an easy read about a young woman in a wealthy seaside hotel for the summer. Under the gentle romance and friendship, there is a sad undercurrent of a society trying to heal from World War 2. This is an enjoyable and thought-provoking novel.

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4.0 difficult path for women post WWI

I managed to read two WWI books, back-to-back! This one had a different angle and, for me, really illustrated the class structure in England and showed how difficult a path women had, especially after the war. So many women stepped into work roles while the men were away at war and got a taste of what that was like, earning their own money. Then, when the war was over, the women were expected to go back to traditional roles as wives and mothers and not work.

We have several characters and points of view in this one. Constance managed the farm office for three years during the war and has several accounting certificates. Now she’s struggling to find a job, as men are supposed to do these jobs now. Due to her mother’s friendship with a wealthy family and her nursing a sick family member back to health, she’s been rewarded with spending a summer at the seaside as a companion.

We see how the wealthy live and how Constance is treated. Constance meets a young woman Poppy, who is enterprising and has set up a motorcycle club and business serving as a taxi. The two women develop a friendship and Constance is pulled into her social orbit. We also meet Poppy’s brother, Harris, a pilot who lost his leg in the war. He’s also struggling to find his place, and we see how he’s treated as if he has nothing left to contribute to the world.

There’s much more to this book, and it was often unsettling. Several times, characters are mistreated because of their social standing, nationality, or race. The author successfully places us in this time. In some ways, we have advanced in terms of women’s rights and humanity, but there’s still a long way to go!

I rooted for Constance to find some measure of happiness, either with a job, or romance, or true friendship.

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I’m a big fan of this author, and this book did not disappoint.

Set in 1919 in Britain, during the Influenza epidemic that came about right after the end of the first world war, the book follows Constance Haverhill, a young lady that is struggling to find her way in the changing society of the time. As the men return from the war, women are forced to give up the jobs that they took over, and with them some of their independence.

In Constance’s case she ran the family estate, having taken bookkeeping courses by correspondence. Now the estate has been turned over to her brother, and she must leave her cottage and find work. Not wanting to be a governess, one of the few positions deemed socially acceptable for a young lady, she becomes a companion to an elderly lady, Mrs. Fog, recovering from illness at a seaside resort. There Constance meets Poppy Wirral, a well-connected young woman who runs a ladies motorcycle club.

Poppy and her friends are modern, intelligent young women who wear trousers, ride motorcycles and generally behave in a way very much frowned upon by polite society. Harris, Poppy’s brother, has returned from the RAF injured, having lost his leg, and he is struggling both mentally and physically with coming back to regular life.

This book highlighted the treatment of women during this period of history, and the huge differences between the classes and especially between people of money, such as the Wirral family, and people like Constance who must make their own way in a world that suddenly does not value the skills that helped Britain get through the war. It also highlighted the treatment of anyone who returned from war ‘damaged’, who were treated as if they were mentally feeble rather than physically injured.

I bristled with annoyance over some of the ways in which Constance was treated, while also acknowledging the fact that the author did a marvelous job of showing exactly how things really worked at the time.

Filled with wonderful descriptions of the time and place, and some excellently detailed and somewhat quirky characters, this book was a joy to read. I particularly loved following the bright, sharp, strong Constance as she figures out her path in life.

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“The Hazelbourne Ladies Motorcycle and Flying Club” is my first read from author Helen Simonson. It is set in a small village in England the year after WWI ends. It follows the adventures that ensue when down on her luck lady’s companion Constance Haverhill meets local gentry Poppy Wirrall who runs a motorcycle based taxi and delivery service.

From the description of the book, you might think that high jinks ensue and that it’d be full of madcap adventures of empowered young women. But while it is described as a comedy of manners, I’d say this book is more of a slow moving post-war character study with a bit of romance thrown in.

The book was slow to take off, in my opinion, but I did eventually become invested. I just found it hard to decide what kind of book it was and go settle in accordingly. The ending came pretty quickly and was a little jarring.

I will say that I appreciated learning more about the German/British experiencing during WWI from a character named Klaus. I also learned a lot from Poppy’s brother Harris about what injured servicemen dealt with upon returning from the war.

If you like character driven historical fiction I have no doubt you’ll love this book.

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Thanks to the Dial Press, Helen Simonson, and NetGalley for allowing me to read a free ebook in exchange for my honest review.

Like Helen Simonson's two previous novel, this unfolds at a pace that is rarely found in modern novels. Its timing is more akin to a jane austen or George Eliot novel that is told at the pace of life for people of a certain station in a time long ago. Through characters that we come to know deeply, Simonson shows us why honesty, humility, and caring for those around us are important in life. Not all of the characters are thoroughly good, and not all of them are thoroughly bad (although some of them do some pretty bad things). I loved this book because it very subtly leads the reader down a trail and allows the reader to form opinions about the characters' actions. This novel is a model work in "showing" not "telling". The dialog was exemplary and I will miss the characters, especially Mrs. Fog, now that I won't be visiting them every day!

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I wanted to love this book based on the synopsis but I found it was too confusing to be enjoyable. I do not recommend it.

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I've read previous novels by Helen Simonson and this one did not disappoint. Delving into the world of the wealthy women who helped during the second world war but are now being told they are not needed along with a woman whom they befriend but desperately needs a job after the loss of her parents and her only brother married to a woman who doesn't want her around.

These motorcycle-riding women who are able to manage these noisy, unwieldy machines start a motorcycle taxi service, much to the chagrin of the 'proper' hotel guests who can't abide women in pants on these machines. Relationships come together and fall apart. Secrets are revealed and families are put to the test of loyalty.

A compelling work of historical fiction.

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World War I is over, the soldiers are returning home, and now the women who helped sustain the war effort are expected to leave their jobs and return to domestic life. Wait. Not so fast. Not every woman is willing to give up the jobs and responsibilities that they’ve enjoyed. Some of these women are members of the Hazelbourne Ladies Motorcycle Club.

Ms Simonson has written a book that looks at the aftermath of WWI and the expectations of society as Great Britain settles into a new norm. British society and women’s place in that society is much of the focus. By and large, I found the “society” women to be distasteful, rude, and hurtful. Their attitudes and expectations were simply inexcusable. Only two women were the exception and they were delightful.

Overall, I enjoyed the latest book by Ms Simonson but there was a lot of repetition detailing the plight of women and that seemed to cause the plot to falter more than once. NetGalley provided an advance copy.

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This was ok. I think I expected more depth, based on the description. It felt a bit flat to me. However, I did like the author's style, and it might be I have just read too many books like this. Though the motorcycle club was a new angle. I think it would appeal to readers who like books with a lighter feel. Thanks to Netgalley for the chance to read the ARC.

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I was delighted by this novel and set aside all other books to read it.

I loved it for the witty epigrammatic insights of the characters. I loved it for the sensitive portrayal of the post WWI world of Britain. There are the war wounded men, struggling with horrific disfigurement and trauma, unable to obtain employment because no one wanted to be confronted with the human cost of the war, and because they were considered mentally as well as physically handicapped. Spunky women who had kept Britain together were being forced out of jobs after the government classifies the jobs as for men only. I loved it for the wonderfully drawn characters. So often, I was reminded of Jane Austen, that master of the comedy of manners and reversals of fortune in affairs of the heart.

In 1919, Constance Haverhill is a companion to her mother’s dear friend, connected by regard and not by mere economics, summering at a seaside resort. Come fall, she must find employment or become dependent on her brother, who had inherited the family farm. During the war, she had run an estate, her accounting and management skills top notch. But that job was going back to a man.

Constance meets the iconoclastic Poppy and her women friends who hope to continue their independence with a motorcycle transport business. These daredevil ladies include a mechanic and a motorcycle racer. Poppy hopes to expand the business by adding flying lessons for ladies; her brother Harris was a pilot in the war, returning home without a leg. He is morose and surly; his fiance had thrown him over, unable to face a crippled husband.

The war had left two million disabled and over forty thousand amputees, many of the men maimed with no prospects for employment or love, Constance learns when she visits the local convalescent center filled with veterans. Constance and Harris face the same challenges, unable to find employment. “People are unable to see beyond what they deem our limitations,” Harris concedes.

With the introduction of an American Southerner and a man from India with a secret, the story addresses racism on both sides of the pond.

Constance is drawn into Poppy’s exciting circle and her welcoming family, taking risks she would never have imagined. But even they fail her, their wealth sheltering them from their worst actions. Her prospects growing dim, Constance outwardly keeps her place while secretly she is breaking limits, daring to hope for a fuller life.

Thanks to the publisher for a free book.

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Taking place after WWI, The Hazelbourne Ladies Motorcycle and Flying Club explores how WWI has affected the lives of young and old in Great Britain. The novel explores how men returning from war with physical or mental disabilities are looked upon as lesser beings. Women who had been employed in traditionally male jobs during the war are now being replaced by returning veterans since the men require those jobs to support their families (even if the women in those jobs are also supporting families in the absence of their men.) The novel explores how Germans living in England were mistreated during the war and thereafter. It also looks at the differences in attitudes between the nobility and the working classes as well as how the upper class doesn’t want to associate with those it perceives as not worthy of their attentions such as blacks and/or citizens of the British Commonwealth. And throughout it all, there are those who are trying to change these insular attitudes. Constance is one of those people and we see how she tries to both accept and change these preconceived mindsets.

Another five-star novel by Helen Simonson! Highly recommended.

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The story is set in a seaside town in England just after the first World War. It's a time of social change. Women who worked while men were away fighting are loathe to give up their jobs to returning soldiers. Social mores are being challenged though class prejudices still remain strong.
Constance is a summer companion to an elderly woman recovering from influenza.
At the Meridith Hotel she meets the Wirrall family - mother, maverick daughter Poppy who runs a motorcycle taxi business and son. Harris who lost part of his leg in battle.
Constance finds her former quiet, dutiful life upended when she becomes part of Poppy's motorcycle group.
The story is pleasantly bland and predictable with too many subplots. There's lots of repetition- old ladies playing whist and sipping bouillon, snooty upper class people expressing disdain for the working class. Characters are flat and the ending was obvious early on.
Thanks to Netgalley and Dial Press for the ARC.

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Connie and her mother have been living on the estate where her mother worked, but now her mother has died, so there is nothing for her to do except live with her brother on the family farm. Since that is not possible at this time, she takes a position as a companion to an elderly lady who is spending the summer at a resort by the sea. Since she had been running the estate while all the men were at war she had been hoping to find a position as a bookkeeper after the summer is over. In the meantime she makes friends with Poppy, who since she is from the upper class, can get away with an unusual lifestyle. My 21st century sensibilities were offended by being reminded of the constraints on women in the World War I era. The ladies and their motorcycles were a good, fun story, but the book was also important for reminding how well we have it in our own time. It will be a good read for my high school friends. I received this as an arc from NetGalley, and am under no pressure for a positive review.

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I loved this book. The writing is just exquisite. The differences between the haughty upper echelon of society, toward the proletariat, are less than subtle. Having financial stability doesn’t automatically mean having class. Constance, being part of the less privileged, exudes the acumen of an extraordinary and sensitive and intelligent woman. Poppy and Tilly and Iris are strong and incredibly efficient. Adored Mrs. Fog and Harris and abhorred Lady Mercer! Life after WWI was not kind to women, in many ways. But the perseverance, of many of the strongest female sect, proved themselves exceptional. The members of the Hazelbourne Ladies Motorcycle and Flying Cub will win your hearts! Thank you NetGalley and Random House Publishing Group for sending this book for review consideration. All opinions are my own. #TheHazelbourneLadiesMotorcycleandFlyongClub, #NetGalley.

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