Recently I read Comforts for the Troops by Fiona Joseph and wrote a review for it.
A novel inspired by the female workers at Cadbury Chocolate Factory during WWI, the novel centres on three female characters and their stories through this difficult time.
Leonora is the character that has drive and determination to be a forewoman of her section at the factory. However, her manner is cold and her spine unbending when it comes to matters outside of the factory. Although a hard worker, she finds herself overlooked for promotion and this makes her increasingly bitter.
Jessie is a married worker at the factory, whose husband is housebound after an accident at his work. Jessie is the breadwinner, but finding life outside of the home opens Jessie’s eyes to another world where she can be free to find new interests. Sadly her new found freedom creates problems in her marriage, which is suffering under the pressure of her long hours at the factory and her husband’s long convalescence and his struggle to regain his focus and independence.
Finally we have Mary, the boisterous and fun-loving woman who has a sense of family duty and a bucketful of courage. Her adventurous nature gives her an instant friendship with Jessie but earns the disapproval of Leonora.
It takes the climatic events in each of these three women’s lives to make them realise that what they were striving for, isn’t always easily attainable.
Leonora has to learn humbleness to truly understand her role at the factory and in her life.
Jessie must learn compromise and forgiveness to find the happiness she seeks.
While Mary learns that her eagerness to make things right isn’t always the correct way to do things and sometimes you have to let others help you.
Comforts for the Troops is a gentle and interesting read. I enjoyed the three women’s situations. Although I felt at times that each story could have had a little more depth. I would have preferred more back story to each woman. Apart from Mary, we know nothing of Leonora or Jessie’s background really, just the odd comment, but nothing substantial.
In general though the plots worked and the story flowed. The story set in the Cadbury’s chocolate factory was unique, as everyone has heard of Cadbury’s chocolates. I can tell the author did her research and put much effort into getting the historical details correct.
I give Comforts for the Troops 3 stars.