Courage of the Shipyard Girls by Nancy Revell #BookReview #BlogTour

Sunderland, 1942

Polly's heart and her future are hanging in the balance… Polly’s sweetheart Tommy has been declared missing while serving overseas, and although there is no certainty that he is dead, there is no guarantee that he will return home. Now Polly needs her friends more than ever, and the other women welders are ready to rally around her while she waits for news.

The only one not showing support is shipyard manager, Helen. But looks can be deceiving, and beneath her cold exterior, Helen is wrestling with demons of her own, including one life-changing decision that could lead to potential ruin. As the war continues, the shipyard girls must support one another as they bravely soldier on.

As the war rages on, their friendship must be stronger than ever.

It's my pleasure to be closing the blog tour for Courage of the Shipyard Girl today, alongside my fellow bloggers, Shruti at This is Lit and Michelle at Chells and Books. Many thanks to Nancy Revell and Rachel Kennedy from Arrow for inviting me and for my advance copy of the book.

Courage of the Shipyard Girls is only the second book I have read in Nancy Revell's Shipyard Girls series but already I'm thoroughly enjoying the way in which each novel focuses on different characters with the others playing support roles before they have their turn in the spotlight once more. There is a fairly large cast of characters and I feel I'm still learning about them but luckily there are always reminders about their history cleverly interwoven into the story to help new readers catch up.
This time the storyline mostly revolves around Polly and Helen; at the start of the book Polly receives awful news about her fiancĂ© whereas Helen is still reeling from events in Victory for the Shipyard Girls. Polly is in the awful position of being caught between grief and hope but she is able to draw strength both from her job at the shipyard and from her friends and family. Her anguish is perhaps best reflected through her loved ones as she tries not to reveal how much she is suffering. The news about Tommy is a reminder of past losses for her family and their pain is as poignant as hers, especially Arthur who is rapidly becoming one of my favourite supporting characters. Polly's torment is truly heartrending at times but I must admit that it was the chapters featuring Helen which I found the most compelling, perhaps because Polly tries so hard  (albeit not always successfully) to hide her true feelings from others.
Helen is disliked - hated, in some cases - by the other women who work at the shipyard but the different side to her that was revealed in the previous book becomes more prevalent here. She is finally able to pull away from the toxic influence of her dreadful mother, Miriam. She cuts rather a sad figure at times, her vulnerability and loneliness are painful to witness but she has an inner strength too and she makes some brave decisions during the course of the novel.  In a series in which the importance of female friendships is a major theme, she has been strikingly alone up to now but her increasingly warm relationship with Gloria and little Hope was one of the highlights of the book for me. I loved the blossoming friendship between her and Dr Parker too and by the conclusion there's a definite sense of change and moving on for Helen - I'm intrigued to see where her storyline will take her next.
Although the other Shipyard Girls take a back seat in this instalment, there are still plenty of little nuggets which may foreshadow what lies ahead for them. With the south of France finally falling under the control of the Axis forces, it looks as if Rosie's husband, Peter's secretive role in the SOE could lead to a tumultuous period for her, particularly as the ending to Courage of the Shipyard Girls suggests her daily life is about to become even less straightforward. Likewise, I suspect Hannah will soon need the love and support of her friends as the news about the Nazis heinous treatment of Jews increasingly filters through.
The dangers of war aren't just felt by those overseas, however. It is also perilous living in a prominent shipbuilding town which is a prime target for bombing raids. Towards the end of the novel there are some tense and deeply emotional scenes which are an acute reminder of the devastation levied on these close-knit communities. What really gives  Courage of the Shipyard Girls - and indeed the Shipyard Girls series as a whole - its heart, is the strength of women. This empowering series tells the stories of the women who stepped into traditionally male jobs and more than held their own; their work absolutely vital to the war effort. I very much enjoyed this latest visit to Sunderland and look forward to the seventh book in the series, Christmas with the Shipyard Girls later this year.

Courage of the Shipyard Girls is published by Arrow Books and can be purchased from;
Amazon UK
Amazon US
Book Depository

Don't forget to check out the previous stops on the blog tour, details are below.

About the Author

Nancy Revell is the pen name of writer and journalist Amanda Revell Walton, who has worked for the national press for the past 25 years, providing them with hard-hitting news stories and in-depth features. She has also worked for just about every woman’s magazine, writing amazing and inspirational true life stories.