Tuesday 9 March 2021

BLOG TOUR: The Paper Mill Girl - Glenda Young

'She's just a paper mill girl.'

Seventeen-year-old Ruth Hardy works long hours at Grange Paper Works, with her younger sister Bea, and spends her free time caring for their ailing parents. Their meagre income barely covers their needs, so when Bea reveals that she is pregnant out of wedlock, Ruth knows even tougher times are ahead.

Ruth's hard work at the mill does not go unnoticed and it looks as though her luck might turn when she's promoted. But when the arrival of Bea's baby girl ends in tragedy, Ruth is left with no choice but to bring up her niece herself. However, news of Ruth's plan brings a threatening menace close.

Although Ruth's friendship with the girls at the mill, and the company of charming railway man, Mick Carson, sustain her, ultimately Ruth bears the responsibility for keeping her family safe. Will she ever find happiness of her own?

What did I think?

Glenda Young is definitely an author not to be missed when it comes to family sagas and I have been a fan of hers since I read Pearl of Pit Lane almost a year ago.  Although tinged with sadness, The Paper Mill Girl is a wonderfully heart-warming novel filled with strong, colourful characters that I took to my heart.

I loved the main character of Ruth Hardy; dedicated to looking after her unexpectedly expanding family, Ruth is also the best friend a girl could have.  Friendship plays a huge part in the book as the rag room girls work, laugh and love together.  In a time where every penny counts, they are always willing to share what they have and look after each other and their lunchtime outings never failed to put a smile on my face.

Set in 1919, it's a stark reminder that it's very much a man's world and Ruth is in the unenviable position of being the sole breadwinner as the Hardy family struggles to keep a roof over their heads in the back room of the Guide Post Inn.  It's shockingly amusing that men always find money for beer whilst their wives could be at home boiling the bones of a chicken to feed their family.  I'd take beer over chicken any day though!

I'm not ashamed to say that I shed a tear or two while I was reading The Paper Mill Girl.  Glenda Young's beautifully warm writing really brings the characters to life and I experienced their emotions alongside them.  I was positively beaming towards the end of the book and tears of happiness brimmed in my eyes but I quickly blinked them away so I could keep reading as I didn't want to miss a single word.

I always look forward to reading the author's note in Glenda Young's books as her research is outstanding and adds authenticity to the story.  I actually didn't realise that Sunderland had a paper mill and even though I've had a book in my hand for most of my life, I had never considered the composition of paper.  It was really interesting to get a glimpse inside a working mill in 1919 through Glenda's fantastic storytelling.

The Paper Mill Girl is heart-warming, emotional and simply wonderful.  It's perfect escapism and I really can't recommend it highly enough as I absolutely loved it.  If you think family sagas aren't for you, you've never read Glenda Young's books - pick one up today and you'll be converted.

Many thanks to Headline for sending me an ARC to read and review for the blog tour; this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

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