I was really excited to reading this book as soon as I got it for two reasons. Firstly, Annie Murray is one of my favourite authors, her style of writing captures my imagination instantly. Her books always run in a series of at least two books so that you can follow the story of the characters. Secondly, I am obsessed with canal boats and always have been since an early age. I buy decorative items from a local man who paints the floral detail on canal boats for a living and as a sideline paints the same detail onto pots, pans and other beautiful pieces.
What I didn’t realise when I bought this book was that it was part two in a series, which luckily I had already read the first book called “The narrowboat girl”. It was a couple of years ago that I read it but as soon as I started on “Water gypsies”, I was transported back into the world of canal boats as if I had read both books one after the other. Whilst you can still read “Water gypsies” without having read “The narrowboat girl”, I do believe you should read them in order to get a better understanding of what character Maryann’s childhood was like before she became a boat woman. Perhaps a good suggestion on my part for the publishers and indeed authors would be to identify their books on the cover so that we can understand its part of a series! With a bit of luck you never know a publisher might be reading this review.
“Water gypsies” tells a more in-depth story of what life was really like for a boat woman in the 1940s and the hardships that were faced that we perhaps don’t think about now.
I felt there was two main points to the story and the way of life for boat families, where they struggled with a large family, little money, hard work for the husband on top of this was World War II.
From the start of the book I was gripped, whereas sometimes i feel starting a book the story line is slow on the uptake. There were so many unexpected twists and turns throughout the story that I just simply struggled put the book down. Annie’s wonderful descriptions of inside the boat caught my imagination so much that I could almost imagine myself being there. Her use of local slang also had me reading the book in my head with a Birmingham accent which was where the character Maryann originated. Overall I think this book was one of the best saga genre books that I have read in a very long time and I will admit that I actually read the last quarter of the book in one go because i was so intrigued to its ending (I finished it at 2am). If you love a little bit of history alongside your romance and saga books like I do then this book is the one for you.