Cover Image: The Hazelbourne Ladies Motorcycle and Flying Club

The Hazelbourne Ladies Motorcycle and Flying Club

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Member Reviews

Poppy runs a taxi and delivery service and hopes to add flying lessons soon. She employs local women. But now that the men are home from the Great War, everyone expects women to go back to worrying about manners and clothes. But, Poppy refuses to relinquish what little freedom she has uncovered.

Oh! These characters are so great! I just love Poppy! But honestly, it takes all of these young characters to make this story entertaining. Each character, Poppy, Iris, Constance and Harris, have a great story surrounding them. The way these people learn to ignore the noise, so to speak, just made this book so wonderful! Talk about non-conformity!

Need an adorable tale about strong women…THIS IS IT! Grab your copy today.

I received this novel from the publisher for a honest review.

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What a gem of a little novel. This is the story of post WWI England in the small seaside town of Hazelbourne. Our main character Constance is the companion of elderly Mrs. Fog who is convalescing after warding off influenza. In the small community, Constance befriends another young woman named Poppy who is fighting convention and driving a motorcycle with a sidecar serving as a taxi. Though high born, Poppy is determined to see women’s jobs remain even as the boys are coming home from war.

Stuck between worlds, Constance doesn’t quite fit in with Poppy and her childhood friends, who seem to have unlimited funds available, but as she often is forced to remind others, she isn’t Mrs. Fog’s servant either, but rather her companion. She is also a trained bookkeeper as well, having taken correspondence courses during the war and aided a large estate in keeping the ledgers. Constance frets about her future after as her position is temporary, and all the jobs seemed to be designated for the boys returning home from war. Both of her parents have passed, and she does not want to live with her brother and his wife, so figuring out her options is imperative.

Filled with a memorable cast of characters, the author doesn’t shy away from racism, misogyny, and classicism that was prevalent in the time period. Constance is such a great character, one who has a heart of gold and sharp tongue. Her sense of equity is threatened regularly due to her circumstances, but her positive outlook keeps her from being too bitter. I found myself wanting all of her dreams to come true, and literally had a visceral reaction to some of her setbacks.

Thank you to NetGalley, Random House, and of course the author Helen Simonson for the advanced copy of the book. The Hazelbourne Ladies Motorcycle and Flying Club is out now. All opinions are my own.

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Because of my admiration of the author’s previous books, I chose to read this. It was nicely written and explored themes that were interesting, but I just could not feel drawn to it. Thanks to #NetGalley and #TheHazelbourneLadiesMotorcycleAndFlyingClub for advanced digital copy.

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The Hazelbourne Ladies Motorcycle and Flying Club was an interesting read. I had trouble getting into it. It just seemed to drag on and on at the beginning. I ended up not finishing it. Might come back to it at a later time to see if it gets better. The writing was good.

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I finally broke my reading slump. This book is delightful. The author has never written a series before as far as I know and I doubt she'll write one now, but I'd love to see books based on one or two of the characters of this book. A great cast of characters and interesting story. I liked that it's post-WWI since too many historical novels focus on WWII. I also don't expect to see a tv series based on this show, but I'd love that. I think it'd make a great show.

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Simonson is now one of my favorite historical fiction authors, with character driven stories filled with hope. Set at the end of WWI in England, Constance is trying to find a place for herself. Not of the wealthy class, but luckier than many, Constance is accompanying Mrs, Fog to the seaside for holiday. When she meets Poppy, the spirited leader of a group of nontraditional women riding motorcycles to provide local tourist transport, Constance is opened up to a different path. Poppy’s brother, Harris, lost a leg in the war, and is struggling to find his place too, often battling for recognition as more than newly disabled. There is social commentary, historical details of the times, and more. Highly recommend. Thanks to NetGalley for the ARC.

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4.75 stars

This is another amazing book from Helen Simonson! She has once again crafted an engaging story of English life in the early 20th Century. This time, it’s right after WWI, and women have once again been relegated to the sidelines and deprived of the jobs they held during the war.
The story is told from three perspectives, each showing how the return of peace has impacted three different groups.
Simonson has done a great job of capturing the strict social mores that are just beginning to be loosened as the country enters the 1920s. She also weaves in enough facts to give a real sense of time and place. I loved that while everyone was glad the war was over, some missed the excitement. Simonson finds the perfect balance between the dark and the light - the depression and worries against the joy of the ride and the friendships. All the characters are fully fleshed out, and I loved all of the main characters.

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I loved this book. The adventure was great and I loved reading it and feeling like I was getting sucked back in the past and it was great.

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This book takes place just after WWI in England. Women who have to working to keep the country going while men were at war are being pushed aside in favor of returning soldiers, even if those women need jobs to survive. Some women accepted their fate and some fought against it. The main character in this book is Constance who probably could have gone on doing as expected, even if she wasn’t entirely happy with it but she meets Poppy, whom some would call a ‘bad influence’. Constance finds herself in situations outside her comfort zone and loving it.
This book touches on several issues such as women’s rights, disabled veterans and racism. I really enjoyed following Constance through her journey of discovery and the many people she encountered along the way. I think she and Mrs Fog were my favorite characters. I got a little nervous near the end because it seemed like the book was not ending the way I wanted but then it did end well.
I enjoyed this book so much I’m going to see what other books the other has. Hopefully they’re as fun to read as this one.
I received this book as a free ARC and am leaving this review voluntarily.

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If you liked Helen Simonson's previous books, then The Hazelbourne Ladies Motorcycle and Flying Club should be on your TBR list. Set right after WWI and focusing on a summer in which Constance accompanies Mrs. Fog on a restful vacation after nursing Mrs. Fog through a bout with influenza, the story highlights the differences among social classes and the plight of women who assert themselves into professions traditionally occupied only by men. It is filled with rather predictable characters and a rather predictable story, but both are presented with great charm. The book is too long and I think that a stronger editorial hand could have produced a novel that would appeal to an even wider audience. 3.5 stars rounded to 4.

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Social change and relationships post WWI

During World War I Constance Haverhill had been the unpaid estate manager and general dogsbody for her mother’s friend and supposed patron Lady Mercer. Constance and her mother lived in a small game-keeper’s cottage on the estate in return for a myriad of duties they both performed to keep Clivehill running smoothly. The end of the war brought that arrangement to a close. It’s now 1919 and Constance’s mother has passed away from Influenza. Constance’s sister-in-law is irrationally blaming Constance for the death of her children from the flu epidemic. Lady Mercer has had Constance’s belongings packed up and stored unknown to her whilst she’s supposedly on holidays at Brighton. Constance is to all intents and purposes is homeless.
In reality she’s caring for Lady Mercer’s mother, Mrs. Fog who’s fortunately very different from her overbearing, inconsiderate, self absorbed, class conscious daughter.
It’s in the Meredith Hotel that Constance comes into contact with the Wirralls. There’s the independent Poppy who forms a motorbike club and a taxi service, her brother Harris—a returned Air Force pilot amputee, and their mother Lady Wirral, who once graced the stage. (There’s so much more to Lady Wirral than is obvious.)
Constance seems to become involved in everything, from Poppy’s motor bike taxi service, Poppy’s plan to help her brother move forward by getting him to restore a Sopworth Camel (highly doubtful)and fraught with danger. Later Constance helps the family with their businesses and estate finances.Then there’s Mrs. Fog’s mysterious childhood friends the de Champney’s.
Constance is a brilliant and intelligent young woman who’s lost faith in her abilities.
I do wish she’d stood up for herself early on with the very insensitive Lady Mercer.
What will the future hold for her? I despaired!
On the romance side of things the situation opens up for Constance only to be put aside due to old fashioned ideas of doing what’s expected. Oh no!
An interesting novel set against the background of social class disparities, and trying to find oneself in a changed world. There are other secondary characters who I really felt for. Dear Mr. Klaus Zeiger the head waiter who had been interned during the war due to his German heritage being one.
Brought to the fore is the plight of the women who now are asked to give up their independence with the men returning. That genie wasn’t going back into the bottle!
The novel becomes even more intriguing as these supporting characters help paint a picture and build up the well-weighted background to the book’s thrust.

A Random House ARC via NetGalley.
Many thanks to the author and publisher.
(Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.)

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This had everything that I was looking for from a historical fiction novel, it had that element that I wanted from World War 1 time. The characters worked with the universe and I was engaged with what was going on with them. Helen Simonson wrote this perfectly and glad I got to read this.

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I enjoyed reading The Hazelbourne Ladies Motorcycle and Flying Club by Helen Simonson. You will fall in love with all the characters. I received an ARC of this book courtesy of NetGalley and the publisher. All opinions expressed in this review are my own and given freely. Happy Reading!

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The war has ended, but life for many has been forever changed.

At the Meredith Hotel in Hazelbourne-on-Sea, people are trying to return to life as it was before the Great War. Constance Haverhill, like many young women, wishes that certain aspects of the war years would not change. She is of the generation of women who had undertaken jobs on the home front generally performed by men, and is not pleased that her employers during the war years,the wealthy Mercer family whose estate Constance had managed, have tossed her aside now that there are men available to do the job. The Mercers are also asking her to leave the house where she and her mother, lost recently to the flu, had been allowed to live given the bonds of childhood friendship shared by Lady Mercer and Mrs. Haverhill. With no job prospects and nowhere to live, Constance is spending several weeks as companion to Lady Mercer’s mother Mrs. Fogg, who is still recovering from her bout with the flu, at the seaside hotel. There she meets Poppy Wirral, a young woman from a privileged background, who like Constance had done “her bit” during the war, and wants to keep right on doing it. Poppy’s work was as a dispatch rider, and she has gathered a group of other women who like her rode motorcycles making deliveries during the war and formed a club and business to allow them to keep riding and earning money. As the summer goes on, Constance will come across many other people who are struggling to find their place after the war. Discrimination based on class and ethnicity and the divide between the haves and have nots are much in play. Adventure, love, tragedy and pain lie ahead for them all, as they discover that while much has changed, human nature by and large has not.
Having read and thoroughly enjoyed author Helen Simonson’s previous novel, Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand, I was eager to see if I would enjoy her latest release as much as I had the earlier book. I am happy to report that I did, enjoying the well conveyed sense of place and the quirky, (mostly) likeable characters who make up the cast. Constance is someone to whom many can relate, a young woman who came from a nice farming family who aspired to more. Her father’s death put an end to her plans to go to university, and now at war’s end she has lost her mother and her home at a time when no one really wants women to hold jobs other than companion or governess (neither of which appeal to her in the slightest). Having always considered the Mercers practically family, she is disturbed to find that she is mostly viewed as a convenient set of hands. There are soldiers trying to deal with life-altering injuries, families of means whose liquidity is not what it once was, and people from parts of the British Empire who fought valiantly during the war but are now reminded that, given their skin color, they are not quite British. With Polly and the other women of the Hazelbourne Ladies Motorcycle and Flying Club showing her another path, Constance is able to take her own measure, set her own goals, and leave behind the limited slots to which her “betters” have pegged her. A little bit of daring do, a little bit of mystery, and a dash of love story as well, this novel has something for everyone. Readers of authors like Jessica Shattuck, Charles Todd and Janet Skeslien Charles, fans of historical fiction featuring women who dare to break molds, and even fans of Downton Abbey will find this a story with appeal. Many thanks to NetGalley and Random House/The Dial Press for allowing me early access to this lovely read.

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3.5 stars rounded up

The Hazelbourne Ladies Motorcycle and Flying Club by Helen Simonson is a solid historical fiction novel, and I enjoyed reading about this small group of women who (literally) flew in the face of the expectations for women in 1919. The characters are fun and interesting, and they exemplified just about every variation on female personality in existence.

I especially liked that the book showcased the many different types of bias and discrimination that existed for both men and women in post WWI Britain. Constance and Poppy are wonderful characters, strong women who are trying to make it in the world without needing a man to support them. Their struggles to be taken seriously, and to run a business employing only women, had me rooting for their success from the very start.

My only disappointment in the book was that while the premise was fresh and unique, the novel itself was pretty much a typical historical fiction novel featuring strong women who are finding their way against a society that believes women are weak creatures. I liked it, but it wasn't incredibly memorable for me.

Thank you to Netgalley and Random House Publishing Group/Dial Press for the digital ARC of The Hazelbourne Ladies Motorcycle and Flying Club. The opinions in this review are my own.

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Having enjoyed Helen Simonson’s Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand (2010) and The Summer Before the War (2016), I was eager to read her latest historical novel, The Hazelbourne Ladies Motorcycle and Flying Club, set shortly after World War I. Constance Haverhill, a young woman who had nursed the elderly Mrs. Fog, mother of Lady Mercer, through the Spanish flu, has been assigned to assist the woman through convalescence at small town British coastal hotel. Meanwhile, Constance , who has had only a correspondence bookkeeping course, knows she must find a full-time job or be forced to marry or be a governess, neither an option of her choice. While in Hazelbourne-on-the-Sea, Constance meets Harris and Poppy Wirral, son and daughter of the colorful Mrs. Wirral, an ex-dancer and current a hotel resident. A former WWI pilot and amputee, Harris suffers from depression while Poppy has founded the Hazelbourne Ladies Motorcycle Club, a delivery and taxi service staffed by former delivery women during the war. A town committee is planning its Peace Day celebration, a pageant that slowly takes on increasing importance and culminates in a dramatic battle.

During approximately the first 30% of the novel, readers become acquainted with these characters and more, some likeable—even lovable--and others intentionally not. While Simonson engagingly portrays time, place, and characters during that opening portion, the action only slowly picks up, eventually reaching a point at which I had difficulty putting the book down.

Although bringing post-WWI England to life, Simonson gives the story meaning by tackling a variety of issues relevant to the time and resonant today. Among these are human suffering resulting from war trauma or from loss of loved ones to war or the Spanish flu, negative attitudes toward the war wounded and working women, discrimination against lower social classes, and mistreatment of foreigners whether stemming from anti-German sentiment or a British Colonial sense of racial superiority toward those from colonized countries. By working serious issues such as these into an entertaining story, Simonson turns what in some writers’ hands would have been a light, forgettable book into a book much more worth reading.

Readers will need to pick up this new novel to learn how the Hazelbourne Ladies Motorcycle Club also becomes a flying club.

Thanks to NetGalley and Dial Press/Random House for an advance reader egalley.

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The war is over and suddenly the girls are no longer needed like they were. It’s a nice story as everyone finds their way. Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for the early copy

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Summer 1919, Constance has no prospects for a job, she’s sent out as a lady’s companion to a woman in a seaside hotel. She meets Poppy who has a taxi and delivery service and a motorcycle club. Fun, smart, romance, great book and great writing.

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Thank you Random House and PRH Audio for the review copies of The Hazelbourne Ladies Motorcycle and Flying Club . this is a joyful, endearing, and even a bit sassy (in a good way) read. I loved it on audio as I really got to feel the story as it was narrated and it was a fun complement to a hot traffic filled drive. Standouts: WWI is a time I know less about so it was nice to read about this part of history;
somewhat expected themes on women's roles and acceptance, often themes that arise during world conflict, and their post war lives but the themes were introduced within such great characters that they felt fresh and fun; strong writing that made me genuinely care about what happened, cheering on for strong endings for each voice.

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Sometimes a book comes along that has a story which you step into and it becomes a living thing. This is one of those books for me.

It is a very character driven story and will appeal to fans of books like “A Man Called Ove” or “A Gentleman in Moscow”. It is a story that develops slowly, but oh how I fell in love with the characters and lost track of the pacing. However, the reader shouldn’t become complacent because there are surprises and moments that had me gasp out loud, especially towards the end.

It does touch on serious subject matter at times but you will still leave with an overall feeling of joy and hope. This is a story about a time when it was very difficult to be a woman. It is a good reminder for women today that the freedoms they currently enjoy exist because of those who went before us and pushed boundaries.

This is a book I will treasure in my library and read again. Easily a 5 star read and I will recommend it to all of my literary friends.

I'm hoping that Helen Simonson will gift us with a sequel. "Hazelbourne Aviation" perhaps?

A huge thank you for my e-ARC, which was provided by the publisher and the author via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.

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