Shipyard Girls at War

Written by Nancy Revell

Shipyard Girls at War displays the struggles of women shipbuilders based in the Sunderland shipyards. This takes place during the Second World War and is inspired by the author’s family history. Throughout the novel all kinds of women’s lives are depicted, from the Czech Jewish refugee to the British fiancée waiting for her man to come home from the war. As a consequence of the fighting, themes of death, life, hope and love are constantly in the background of this novel. As well as the women’s lives, the returning wounded are represented, for example Joe, mourning his twin brother, struggles to find a place in his community which has become accustomed to not having many young men present. There is a constant fear in this story of Hitler’s invasion of Britain—this dark threat permeates their language, heightened by the falling bombs bringing death. Everyone wants to help the war effort in their own way, even if it means changing the community’s structure and risking their lives. Despite the negative atmosphere, almost all of the community strives to let hope survive, demonstrating that if hope is lost, the war is lost. I found this an encouraging representation of World War Two.