Home Front Girls
Coventry suffered one of the worst air raids in World War II, a night of annihilation that destroyed three-quarters of the city centre and killed 550 people. It seems a fitting setting for Rosie Goodwin’s novel Home Front Girls, a story of the lives of three young women living in Coventry during the war. Annabelle, Lucy and Dotty, while coming from very different backgrounds, form solid friendships during their time working together in a department store.
Goodwin has clearly researched the period thoroughly, and uses brand names such as “Olivetti”, or details of lighting gas-rings skilfully, to create a sense of time. The prose is unchallenging and, in places, clichéd (for example, different characters are described more than once as having “a heart of pure gold”, and motherly figures gaze after the main characters summing up events to date, or wondering what their future holds). Despite the intriguing backdrop of Coventry and its fate of which the characters are initially unaware, there is little effort to create any sort of foreshadowing or suspense, and the book could have been set in any major city during WWII.
Home Front Girls, despite depicting tragic events of war including the deaths of loved ones, is a positive, character-driven book. The three heroines, like characters in a fairy-tale or in the romances Dotty writes, must learn to trust and depend upon one another and overcome their individual faults and setbacks to triumph in love and life. Its strength is the extent to which the reader comes to care about Annabelle, Lucy and Dotty and their journeys to happiness and fulfilment.