Elaine Everest is someone that I think of as being a top saga writer and yet this is the first of her books that I have read. Shocking, I know!
We follow three young women: Rose, Lily and Katie. They all work in the Lyons teashop in Ramsgate. Having been friends since they were children, it’s also lovely that their friendship has continued into adulthood. The story is set in 1940 and the war is just about to step up a gear from the so-called phoney war into something much more serious.
Yes, this is the story of three friends, but it’s very much Rose who is the central character. Everybody and everything revolves around her and she’s a really lovely person. She harbours dreams of being a singer but is also very happy working as a Nippy. She meets a man one evening when she is singing and she finds herself unable to forget him. Nothing is quite straightforward though, as you would expect, and I wouldn’t want it any other way as the best sagas have to have some upset and conflict before reaching a (hopefully) happy conclusion.
I absolutely loved The Teashop Girls. I particularly loved all the detail about working in the teashops, the Nippies and the Sallies, the way they were run. I think the author has done a lot of research and probably enjoyed doing so very much. I also enjoyed the romance between Rose and Captain Hargreaves, which I thought was beautifully written.
This is a gorgeous story of love, friendship and solidarity during wartime. Along with the characters I have already mentioned, there were a number of delightful supporting characters. I thought Mildred Dalrymple, in particular, was fantastic. She’s a strong woman, off out on her fishing boat, getting jobs done and not caring what people think of her.
As I say, there are lots of ups and downs for the characters, but this is ultimately a feel-good, completely heart-warming story. I don’t know whether this is a standalone book or part of a new series, but either way I shall look forward to reading more of Elaine Everest’s books in the future.
Nicola Smith, Short Book and Scribes, 5/4
The Teashop Girls by Elaine Everest
Pan 9781509892556 pbk May 2019