Secrets of the Railway Girls by Maisie Thomas #BookReview #BlogTour


The second novel in the uplifting railway girls series that shows just how important friendship and love is in a time of uncertainty and change. Perfect for fans of Nancy Revell.

Manchester, November 1940

As the war continues and secrets threaten the railway girls, they will discover the true meaning of friendship.


For Dot, her job on the railways is everything. Transporting parcels around the country gives her pride that she is doing her bit for the war effort, but a growing friendship causes problems when home and work collide.

Joan loves her boyfriend Bob dearly, but when tragedy strikes, her heart is torn apart, and she is forced to make a decision that could hurt those she loves most.

Meanwhile Mabel has finally found a place to call home and her relationship seems to be going from strength to strength. However, the relentless bombing in the Christmas blitz is about to destroy everything she holds dear, and she will need her friends’ courage and generosity now more than ever.

Brought together by their work on Manchester’s railways, the three women find that with the support and encouragement of each other, they can get through even the most challenging of times.

I'm delighted to be hosting the blog tour for Secrets of the Railway Girls today. Many thanks to Maisie Thomas and to Rachel Kennedy from Arrow for inviting me and for my advance copy of the novel, received through Netgalley.

I loved the first book in Maisie Thomas' The Railway Girls wartime saga series when I read it back in May and I've eagerly been awaiting being reunited with this eclectic group of women who are drawn from all walks of life, yet have become firm friends.
As Christmas 1940 draws near, Dot Green is making plans for how to celebrate; mock turkey is on the menu but she has a clever plan to ensure her beloved grandchildren won't have to eat their pet rabbit. However, Manchester becomes the latest bombing target in what becomes known as the Christmas Blitz and tragedy strikes meaning the friends need each other more than ever. The devastation left by the bombs, both on the city itself and on those who live there is vividly evoked and although this is a heartwarming series, Maisie Thomas describes the horror and the collective sense of loss and grief with sensitive and searing honesty.
Of course, these are women who are working in jobs usually undertaken by men and who face mocking, criticism and doubt by those who believe their place should be in the home so despite their personal tragedies, they remain strong even when their hearts are broken. That's not to suggest that they are unrealistically perfect - on the contrary, they make mistakes and are forced to confront difficult situations. Joan, in particular, has a real dilemma this time around and although it would be easy to condemn her for the position she finds herself in, because these are such well-rounded, believable characters, I couldn't help but sympathise with her plight. 
The three characters who featured most strongly in the first book take centre stage for the most part again here and their stories are all moving and engaging. While Joan is struggling to deal with the shocking developments in her life, Mabel also undergoes some big changes during the course of the novel and has her own difficult dilemma to deal with. She finds herself missing home and I loved that the privileged, aloof girl who came to Manchester to spread her wings is now secure enough in the love of her friends to also appreciate and to miss her wealthy, social-climbing yet undeniably loving parents. It's Dot though who remains my favourite character; as a devoted mother and grandmother, it's not surprising that she should become the sounding-board and the shoulder to cry on for the younger women in their group but her job on the railway has given her something beyond a new group of friends. She has become more confident in her own capabilities and her bravery really shines through in some tense and dramatic scenes.
If being reunited with Dot, Mabel and Joan feels like greeting old friends again, the small glimpses we're given into the lives of Cordelia, Alison and Colette means I'm eager to discover more about them too - I have a feeling each of them has secrets to still be revealed. I'm also becoming increasingly fond of the extended cast of characters beyond the Railways Girls; most notably Mr Thirkle, Mrs Cooper and Mrs Grayson and I'm absolutely intrigued to learn more about just what Joan's awful Gran has been hiding from her...
The Secrets of the Railway Girls is an authentic, poignant and dramatic homage to the fortitude of the ordinary people who showed such extraordinary courage and resilience during the Second World War. It's also strikingly relevant to our own current circumstances as we too queue outside shops at a time when social cohesion and a sense of communal responsibility is vital once again. The lives of the Railway Girls, the railway they work on and Manchester itself are all richly brought to life and as the saga progresses, I have no doubt that I'll continue to be engrossed as I celebrate the highs and mourn the losses of the Railway Girls. I highly recommend this captivating book and series.

Secrets of the Railway Girls is published by Arrow, purchasing links can be found here.

Don't miss the rest of the blog tour, details are below.

About the Author
Maisie Thomas was born and brought up in Manchester, which provides the location for her Railway Girls novels. She loves writing stories with strong female characters, set in times when women needed determination and vision to make their mark. The Railway Girls series is inspired by her great aunt Jessie, who worked as a railway clerk during the First World War. Maisie now lives on the beautiful North Wales coast with her railway enthusiast husband, Kevin, and their two rescue cats. They often enjoy holidays chugging up and down the UK’s heritage steam railways.


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