The Beantown Girls

Written by Jane Healey
Review by Julia C. Fischer

Jane Healey’s latest book is about the World War II Red Cross Clubmobile Girls, who risked their lives to boost the morale of Allied soldiers. Providing a taste of home with coffee and donuts, these women, like the men they served, risked their lives every day. The Beantown Girls focuses on three young women from Boston. The best of friends, Fiona, Dottie, and Viviana each have their own reasons for volunteering. Fiona, the narrator of the book, is desperate to find out what happened to Danny, her fiancé, who is missing in action. She joins the Red Cross to discover what happened to him, but then she falls for another soldier. Dottie, a talented musician and singer, wants to break out of her shell. And Viv wants to leave an unsatisfying job behind in order to find more meaning in her life. Through their time in England and on the front in France, the Beantown Girls find camaraderie with the other women, forging lifelong friendships and romances. Ultimately, all the women’s lives will be changed by their time serving.

Healey reveals the inspiring and unsung heroines of World War II, the Clubmobile Girls, through the moving stories of Fiona, Dottie, and Viv. While the characters are fictional, Healey meticulously researched these women and based much of the book on historical events and information gathered from primary sources, thus giving the reader the fullest sense of what these women accomplished. An especially poignant scene, based on an actual event, occurs on Christmas Eve during the Battle of the Bulge, when the three women are stuck on the front, reminding us that even during a war, we are not all that different. This book is highly recommended for fans of Aimie K. Runyan and Jennifer Robson.