The Fisherman’s Girl

Written by Maggie Ford
Review by Cathy Kemp

After the Wall Street crash of 1929, the ripples of the Depression were felt far and wide across the globe, including the little port of Leigh-on-Sea in Essex. The Bowmaker family were longstanding fishing folk, carving out a living on the mudflats of the Thames estuary as they raked in the cockles for sale to the holidaymakers in nearby Southend-on-Sea and Billingsgate Fish Market in London’s East End. A family feud does not prevent second daughter Pamela from falling in love with the only son of the man her father blames for all the hardship they’ve endured since his beloved boat was set alight over 20 years before. The rest of the family remain in ignorance of this liaison until the young couple plan to create a new life, in the expectation of a grandchild bringing closure. Pam’s siblings have issues of their own in their lives, and their mother does her utmost to maintain good relationships with all, despite their father’s fierce attitudes towards the Bryants.

This historical tale was based on similar stories from many family closets, thereby making it accessible to the reader. Ford establishes her characters with realistic qualities, and the accuracy of the difficulties faced by people from this era are sound. Among the topics featured, it does raise some question regarding the sexual liberation of young people from that time, as most of the young appear to have pre-marital sex.