The Girl from the Docklands Café

Written by June Tate
Review by Clare Lehovsky

The Girl from the Docklands Café follows the story of Jessie, a headstrong Irish woman determined to make her own way in Southampton. June Tate successfully manages to create a balance between the harsh world of working gangs and corrupt bosses and the small acts of kindness that comes from being a good neighbour. Although simply written, the novel is action packed and will keep you going until the last page, and Tate ensures that you are cheering Jessie on until the last moment. Throughout the novel, the gender stereotype is challenged while Jessie becomes a successful career woman during the outbreak of World War One. There is a strong sense of community in the story, which is ingrained in each character’s perspective on life. Jessie’s husband Conor, for example, is very aware of the loyalty of the working gangs of Southampton and uses it for his own purposes. Jessie, meanwhile, is touched by the solidarity of her friends through tough times when everything seems to be slipping away. Tate, in creating Jessie as a character and placing her in a momentous historical moment, is questioning the everyday aspects of the past and bringing the people of the Southampton Docks to life.