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Wartime at Liberty’s by Fiona Ford

Writing.ie | Book Reviews | Women’s Fiction

By Swirl and Thread

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Wartime at Liberty’s is Book 3 in The Liberty Girls saga series from Fiona Ford.

Set around the iconic Carnaby Street department store at the height of the Blitz in London, the series is described as a ‘heart-warming story of friendship and courage in WWII inspired by the real men and women who worked at Liberty during the 1940s’. On a trip to the store Fiona Ford discovered a plaque dedicated to the men and women who lost their lives during WWII. She was very much intrigued by their stories, and secured rare access to Liberty’s records and archives providing her with the background information to write about these incredible people.

It’s always a treat to wrap myself up in this saga series from Fiona Ford. It’s like a warm hug returning to the stories of these brave and courageous women. Fiona Ford focuses her attention on one character in each book and this time it is that of Florence (Flo) Canning. Flo has a fascinating back story and her strength and bravery has been very evident in the previous books but now Flo is struggling. News that her love, her husband, Neil is dead, a casualty of the fight on the sea puts Flo into a state of shock. Her grief at the loss of Neil is compounded by the fact that they had parted on a disagreement. Flo now feels that she is in someway responsible for Neil’s tragic death and decides that work will soothe her grief. Her friends are there for her, Alice, Mary, Dot and Rose and Mr Button but Flo closes down and refuses to reveal to any of them the extra level of guilt she carries.

Life in Liberty’s is challenging. The shop maintains it’s solidarity with the war effort, doing all it can to keep the show on the road but it’s hard times with everyone expected to do more…always more. The Liberty girls are a stalwart bunch and with determination and a incredible sense of what’s right, they take it all on the chin and battle on.

Flo embraces her role as fabrics manager. She is tough and, although her staff are more than just colleagues, she runs a tight ship, taking no guff from any member. With the Liberty’s store manager, Edwin Button, regularly away on other war-related business, Flo has to deal with a new deputy store manager, Henry Masters. Henry is very secretive but is a diligent worker, adept at managing the store and keeping tabs on everyone. He has ideas but respects the existing staff and is careful not to step on too many toes. With the arrival of a new member of staff, temperatures rise and the atmosphere within the fabric department changes causing Flo to suspect that all is not as it seems.

Flo loved to sing but since the death of Neil she has been unable to find the strength and the courage to raise her voice again. The guilt of his loss and the argument they had when they last communicated means that Flo is unable to use her voice to escape the chaos and noise of wartime existence. Through Henry Masters she does assist in playing piano for school children and while it gives her some moments of peace, she is still riddled with remorse.

Wartime at Liberty’s is a novel about friendship. The Liberty girls have a tight relationship. All have suffered during these terrifying years but their resilience and support for each other is a constant. Flo’s story is uplifting, inspiring. Her dreams are lifted up by her friends. Their unqualified support for each other is a force to be reckoned with. A mix of personalities, all with their own personal issues, all with a courage and a determination to survive with a smile on their faces and a glow in their hearts.

Wartime at Liberty’s is Flo Canning’s story but it is also much more than that. For those of you who love reading from the saga series genre, these Liberty Girls will make you smile and provide you with much needed warmth during these difficult times. A smile can change everything in a minute and Flo and her friends are a testament to that.

Wartime at Liberty’s is another charming and engaging, compassionate read from Fiona Ford. A thoroughly uplifting and joyous read.

(c) Swirl and Thread

Order your copy online here.

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