The Girl from Kingsland Market

Written by June Tate
Review by Valerie Loh

1920, Southampton. Phoebe Collins, a determined market trader, takes over the family fruit and vegetable stall to help support her mother and brother after the death of her beloved father in the Somme. Set against the harsh reality of post-Great War life, the struggle for survival is hard. The market traders have to be hardy enough to withstand all weathers, strong enough to physically cope and also combat the daily toil against poverty. The harsher elements of criminal life are a challenge for spirited young Phoebe. The author conveys all of this detail with great skill whilst keeping the flow of the plot moving at an engaging pace. When newcomer, Ben, arrives, he attracts Phoebe’s attention as well as that of the notorious Stanley bros. He deflects their curiosity with deft skill. Phoebe’s world is about to take a different direction again when, just as she is finding her new friend endearing, she unexpectedly witnesses a horrific crime, but cannot share this secret with anyone. Tragedy, never far away, follows. The pace of this lovingly woven saga accelerates further as the law closes in on the notorious Stanley brothers.

In Phoebe and Ben we have two compelling characters that the reader can strongly empathise with and who will not disappoint their expectations. I could not write this review without mentioning the sad loss of the author. Her work is testament to the talent she had for breathing life into fiction and creating absorbing warm characters in settings that depicted a clear image of social history in very troubled times. Highly recommended for lovers of action-packed sagas.