Today I am handing back to Mandie who has a blog tour review of The Aro Street Girls by Lyndsay Campbell. Thank to Jill Burkinshaw for inviting us to join the tour and to publishers Junction Publishing for providing an advance copy for review. Here is what it’s all about:
Kathy’s world is torn apart when her fiancé, Freddie enlists with NZ Forces to fight in World War One. When their father dies. she and her siblings, Belle and Walter, are forced to grow up fast and Kathy’s dream to become a teacher is thrown into question by family needs.
Kathy and Freddie’s romance continues via touching letters to and from the Front, but her devotion is challenged when Pacifist Lay Pastor, Arthur Tremaine appears on the scene.
This charming tale is set against the harsh realities of life in a small British colony a century ago. Feminist ideals are woven throughout as the cast of strong women and engaging men meet the challenges and tragedies they are faced with.
The reader is taken across the globe to Europe and post war Britain where the Spanish flu has taken hold. The disease follows returning New Zealand soldiers’ with devastating consequences.
Will Freddie survive the war to claim his love?
Will Kathy fulfil her dream to become a teacher, or has the war changed everything they once knew to be true?
The Aro Street Girls is awash with romance, mystery and excitement; a vivid portrayal of wartime life in New Zealand.
I am a sucker for any kind of historical book so I was more than happy to be able to read The Aro Street Girls. Set in New Zealand during the WW1 it seemed quite fitting to be reading it in what is the centenary year. It follows the lives of Kathy, Belle and the Reyling family as they deal with all that life brings them as New Zealand joins Britain in the fight against Germany.
The story mainly centres on Kathy as she struggles to deal with her fiancé Freddie fighting somewhere abroad and trying to persuade her family to let her continue with her studies at university so that she can become a teacher. Her mother Violet is strongly opposed to this as she sees it as a waste of time and money and thinks she should be concentrating on getting married and starting a family, after all once she is married she won’t be working.
Kathy is quite a strong character and certainly has a determination to live her life in the way she feels is true to her despite all the restrictions both the era that she is living in and her gender. It really is quite easy to forget the prejudices women faced with regards to the choices in life in the early 1900’s. What I really liked about this book was that the story was told through the viewpoint of those left at home and the things they had to struggle with. There was also the element of racial prejudice as Kathy’s father was originally from Germany and as the war continued there were those that resented them for their heritage even though he had lived in New Zealand for nearly all of his life. Whilst we have progressed in many ways since this time the book does highlight the fact that in this somethings have not progressed at all and your heritage still can be an issue for some.
The Aro Street Girls certainly kept my attention the whole time and I found that I really loved the characters in the book. You really get a sense of how close the family is despite their little disagreements and how the war affects them all in different ways, from the elder son trying to avoid conscription, to the youngest who would have dearly loved to become a pilot and join in the fighting, and Kathy desperately hanging on to the belief that Freddie would return and everything would go back to how it was before the war. If you love historical fiction then you really should pick up this book and find out for yourself what life was like for families in times of war.
If you would like a copy of the book for yourself, it is available at the following link: Amazon
About the Author
Writing has always been an integral part of my life. From factual articles for newspapers and news stories for a local radio station, interviewing offenders as a probation officer and writing their pre-sentence court reports for New Zealand’s District Courts, as well as amassing a small collection of poetry.
My historical fiction is inspired by the stories of my Scottish and Irish ancestors who crossed the seas in sailing ships in the mid 1800s to find a new life in Aotearoa New Zealand. This, combined with years spent working in the field of counselling and social work after my family had grown, has given me an interest in the lives of our ancestors more than a century ago and in writing about what makes people act the way they do. I love to create believable characters who find themselves in challenging situations.
I am a natural gypsy and while I love to travel internationally, more recently my husband and I have enjoyed motor homing around New Zealand. Walking the beaches and bush tracks and meeting people who also enjoy the mobile life is lots of fun. The wonderful thing about writing is its portability. I am happy with my laptop on my knee in our mobile home, or at a proper desk. Living on the shores of beautiful Lake Rotorua where steaming mud and thermally heated pools are the norm is quite a blessing and I am sometimes to be found writing in one of Rotorua’s lovely cafes.
Author Link: Facebook
Follow the tour: