When My Ship Comes In written by Sue Wilsher, publisher Sphere, is available NOW in ebook, hardcover, paperback and audio download format.
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If you love Call The Midwife, you won’t be able to resist this heartwrenching emotional saga set in 1950s Essex.
Keep the family together, that’s what her old mum always said. Put up and shut up. And that’s what everyone else did around there.
Essex, 1959. Flo earns her money as a scrubber, cleaning the cruise ships and dreaming of a day when she might sail away from her life in the Dwellings, the squalid tenements of Tilbury docks. Then the Blundell family are evicted from their home.
Fred, Flo’s husband, finds work at Monday’s, a utopian factory town. Suddenly, it seems like everything is on the up for Flo Blundell and her children. Even Jeanie, Flo’s sulking teenage daughter, seems to be thawing a little in her shiny new surroundings.
But when Flo’s abusive husband Fred starts drinking again, he jeopardises the family’s chance to escape poverty for good.
Flo is faced with a terrible decision. Must she fight to keep her family together? Or could she strive for the life of her dreams – the kind of life she could have when her ship comes in?
I read this debut novel by Sue Wilsher back in in January but I wanted my review to be posted near the release date of the paperback which was a mere few days ago.
This was such a raw, honest story of life as it really was back in 1959. The story is set at Tilbury Docks, Essex but it could be set anywhere in the country as families, men and women, had certain roles to play back in that era. Women had a hard life back in the 50’s, some worked to help with the housekeeping funds but they were also expected to cook, clean and look after the children around their work schedule. The men went to work and very often visited a public house before coming home to dinner of the table. It was just the way of the world back then but Flo was a very strong minded lady and had to find a way of swimming with the world on the cusp of change in women’s equality at work.
After Flo’s husband Fred lost his job at the docks he reluctantly found work at a leather goods factory in a nearby town. This was a self-made town that the owner of the factory had built. Mr Monday Senior, of Monday’s Leather Goods, had a vision of a factory making quality goods with his employees living in purpose built houses encased in their own village which included bars, sports facilities and events were held bringing the workforce together as a team.
Flo loved it at Monday’s she had managed to get a job herself and soon picked up the skills required and was encouraged to train to further her career. This was totally unheard of for a woman to be given training for promotion and in a way Flo felt like a ‘guinea pig’ but she relished the studying.
This was a new style of working ethic for Fred but at first he settled in well however, eventually his old habits slithered back in causing a whole heap of trouble. Flo was left in despair and turmoil over her marriage and the safety of her family. Should she give up her dreams of her career and a better life for her family?
Sue Wilsher had cleverly told this story in two different voices. The voice of Flo, the wife and mother and the voice of Jeanie, the 15 year old daughter refusing to be moulded in the ‘woman of the 50’s figure.’ I loved the struggle felt in this storyline, it was quite emotional to read at times due to the honesty of the author’s words. A remarkable debut novel that awakens a time and an era when struggles were a daily occurrence for many. I was hoping for an epilogue as I love to know how the characters developed but this is just my preference. I look forward to more from Sue Wilsher. 4.5/5*
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