Review: 'Gunner Girls and Fighter Boys' by Mary Gibson (2016)
May Lloyd's father calls her his homing pigeon because of her uncanny knack of navigating her way around the streets of South London – even in pitch darkness. It is a gift that will save her life when the Blitz destroys nearly everything that she holds dear.
With her home in ruins, May joins the ATS – the women's branch of the British Army – and becomes a gunner girl, operating Ack Ack guns against the Luftwaffe. Meanwhile, her sister Peggy makes a daring bid to escape a stifling marriage and find love and freedom amid the heady chaos of war.
As I've mentioned before on this blog, I quite enjoy some historical fiction every now and again, next to the usual chick lit and women's fiction. Over the past few years I've had the chance to read and review some great wartime romances by authors such as Margaret Graham and Katie Flynn. When I was contacted about possibly reviewing 'Gunner Girls and Fighter Boys' by Mary Gibson, I said 'yes' because I straight away liked the sound of the novel. I had heard some positive things about the author's book 'Custard Tarts and Broken Hearts', so I was both curious and excited to be given the chance to check out Mary Gibson's writing for myself and dive into another wartime saga at the same time!
When the Blitz hits London and destroys almost everything around them, Peggy and May Lloyd, two sisters from Bermondsey, know their lives are about to be turned completely upside down. May can't sit around and do nothing, so decides to join the ATs and becomes a gunner girl, operating ack-ack guns. While she makes new friends, she can't help but miss home and worry about her parents. At the same time, May's older sister Peggy is trapped in her marriage and the war suddenly provides her with an unexpected chance of freedom. When she finds real love within the chaos of the ongoing war, she will need to make some important life-changing decisions...
Mary Gibson's latest release 'Gunner Girls and Fighter Boys' looked like a captivating and promising read to me when I picked it up, and I'm really glad to say the novel definitely managed to meet my expectations. The author's well-paced and detailed writing style combined with a selection of fascinating characters grabbed my attention from the start and after just a few chapters I was already completely engrossed in the novel, curious to find out what would happen next. I really liked the fact that there were two main characters the novel focussed on: sisters May and Peggy. They each had their own storyline, different from one another but also connected in various ways, and they were both engaging characters that I easily warmed to.
I personally find it really interesting to read about women's lives during the war, and Mary Gibson has obviously done her research and manages to paint a realistic and touching picture, making it easy to envisage everything in my mind, almost as if I was there myself. The book is quite a long read with almost 500 pages, but both Peggy's and May's storyline were fascinating and kept my attention at all times. I thoroughly enjoyed this and already hope to pick up more of the author's works in the future. Overall, 'Gunner Girls and Fighter Boys' is a captivating, interesting and touching historical read which I really enjoyed from start to finish; a read that is definitely worth picking up, especially if you're a wartime saga fan!