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Before picking The Allotment Girls book up, I had never heard of the author Kate Thompson. Whilst you should never judge a book by its cover, it was that which drew me into purchasing this book. This was before I gained an interest in gardening, so I wasn’t sure if I would enjoy it.
Hope can grow anywhere…
During the Second World War, life in the iconic Bryant & May match factory is grimy and tough. Annie, Rose, Pearl and Millie carry on making matches for the British Army, while bombs rain down around them.
Inspired by the Dig For Victory campaign, Annie persuades the owners to start an allotment in the Bryant & May factory grounds. With plenty of sweat and toil, the girls eventually carve out a corner of the yard into a green plot full of life and colour.
In the darkest of times, the girls find their allotment a tranquil, happy escape. Using pierced dustbin lids to sieve through the shrapnel and debris, they bring about a powerful change, not just in the factory but also in their own lives.
As the war rages on, the garden becomes a place of community, friendship – and deceit. As the garden thrives and grows, so do the girls’ secrets…
Despite the blurb, the book actually starts in 1897, 42 years before that outbreak of the Second World War. Whilst it only lasts for one chapter, it grips you and makes you want to read on. From the second chapter onwards, the book is set in the 1940s. I found myself constantly thinking of how it links back to the beginning of the story. Personally, I’m a very nosy person. I always want to uncover the secrets so I felt compelled to continue reading on.
What I wasn’t prepared for was how much I could connect with this book on a personal level. Throughout the story, there was an underlying theme which is briefly touched on throughout the book. This is that you never know what goes on behind closed doors. As well as this, its about how far people will go to cover it up. It really proved to me that we are shaped by things that have happened in our past.
Like with many books, tragedy strikes and just when you think the worse, happiness shines through. Despite the title of this book, it’s more about the girls lives rather than the allotment they care for. This book has such a heart-warming ending. I found myself actually crying with joy, which is something books rarely do to me. However, this joy soon turns to upset when I read the last chapter. The match girls, one explosive summer that changed the course of history. It transpires that part of The Allotment Girls book is based on a true and harrowing story.
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