Comforts for the Troops

Written by Fiona Joseph
Review by Anne Marie Brear

Inspired by the female workers at Cadbury Chocolate Factory, this novel centres on three characters and their stories through the difficult time of the Great War.

Leonora has drive and determination to be a forewoman of her section at the factory. However, her manner is cold and 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 married, her husband is housebound after an accident at his work. As the breadwinner she finds life outside the home opens her eyes to new interests, but freedom creates problems for her marriage. Mary is 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.

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. Apart from Mary, we know nothing substantial of Leonora or Jessie’s background. In general, though, the plots worked and the story flowed. The setting in the Cadbury’s chocolate factory was inspired and different, as everyone has heard of Cadbury’s chocolates. The author did her research and put much effort into getting the historical details correct.

A good read.