Sunday 16 August 2020

Custard Tarts and Broken Hearts


This is a book that I have been meaning to read for ages and after meeting the author in person a few weeks ago whilst doing a nordic walk, I decided that now was the time to pick it up! You can read my review below and there are also a couple of the authors other books that I have previously reviewed on Boon's Bookcase that you can find on the blog.

Heartwarming and gritty, the story of a factory girl in Bermondsey through World War 1.
They call them custard tarts - the girls who work at the Pearce Duff custard and jelly factory. But now the custard tarts are up in arms, striking for better conditions. Among them is Nellie Clark, trying to hold her family together after the death of her mother. She has the most desperate struggle to make ends meet, often going hungry to feed her little brothers.
Two men vie for Nellie's love. One is flamboyant, confident and a chancer. The other is steady, truthful and loyal. But the choice is not as easy as it might seem.
Looming over them all - over Bermondsey, over the factory, over the custard tarts and their lives and loves - is the shadow of the First World War. And that will change everything and everyone.

When Nellie's mother dies she is basically left to bring up her brothers and sister as her father is so full of grief that it manifests itself in appalling behaviour towards his children, especially it seems, Nellie.

Nellie works in the Pearce Duff Custard and Jelly factory in Bermondsey, South East London and is therefore known as a "Custard Tart"! Conditions are awful and so is the pay, so when all the other factories go out on strike for better pay, Nellie and her co-workers do the same with the help of Eliza James, who is the voice for all the factory workers hoping to improve their lives.

Eliza has a brother called Sam who is trying to hold down a full time job as well as looking after his mother who is very ill and frail as well as his siblings. Eliza, it seems, is too busy for family ties and wants to bask in the glory of getting victory for the workers of Bermondsey in better pay and conditions.

Ted Bosher has eyes for Nellie and is a real charmer, but will she fall for his slick ways?

This is a real South East London family saga set in 1911 before the onset of WWI and tells the struggle that Londoners had to put food on the table every day for their families. If you love sagas then this will be right up your street! I absolutely loved it and can only ask myself why it took me so long to read it!

I will definitely be reading the rest of Mary Gibson's earlier novels as I just love reading about my home town of London and especially, the South East of the city.

To buy a copy of this on Amazon click here

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