Welcome! Alrene Hughes grew up in Belfast, but she has lived in Manchester for the majority of her adult life. Arlene worked for British Telecom and BBC before training as an English teacher. After teacher for twenty years, Arlene retired to write full-time. Arlene is on Facebook and Twitter. Readers can follow her on Amazon, Goodreads and Bookbub (get emails on her latest releases). Alrene Hughes has written A Song in My Heart, Martha's Girls, The Golden Sisters, and The Girl in the Pink Raincoat.
The Girl from the Corner Shop by Alrene Hughes takes you back to World War II in Manchester, England. Helen Harrison has lived above the corner shop her whole life and worked in it since she was fourteen. Helen is now married to Jim, a firefighter with Manchester Fire Brigade, and they will be moving into their own cottage on New Year’s Day which will finally get Helen out from under her critical mother’s thumb. Heavy bombings begin that night devastating the city and leaving Helen a widow. A grief stricken Helen is unable to take her mother’s censure and makes a bold move. Helen grabs her belongs and moves into the cottage. With her godmother’s assistance, Helen obtains a job at Fenner’s Fashion Agency. When the shop is robbed of their entire stock, Helen gets a taste of police work. She joins the Women’s Auxiliary Police Corps which gives Helen a chance to help others and meet new people. What does the future hold for Helen? You will need to read The Girl from the Corner Shop to find out!
The Girl from the Corner Shop is an endearing historical novel. I thought it was well-written with a good flow and relatable characters. Helen Harrison is a caring woman who loved her husband with all her heart and his death affects her deeply. Helen was raised by her mother with a caustic tongue. She has worked in their shop since she was fourteen and has never received a decent wage. Grief emboldens Helen allowing her to move out and begin a new job. I enjoyed watching Helen spread her wings. It gives her a chance to discover her inner strength and potential. There may be obstacles thrown in her path and she still has dark days, but Helen finds a way to move forward. I thought The Girl from the Corner Shop was an emotional story that grabbed my attention and held it. I could feel Helen’s grief and understood her struggles. I enjoyed the various crimes that Helen got to investigate and how they were integrated into the story. I felt they suited the time period and added complexity. The Girl from the Corner Shop is a dramatic and touching novel with a lovely ending. I look forward to reading more of Alrene Hughes charming stories in the future.
Excerpt from The Girl from the Corner Shop:
‘Are you not going to finish that?’ Helen shook her head and her mother reached across the table and scraped what was left on Helen’s plate on to her own. ‘Can’t let good food go to waste.’
Later, they cleared the plates and sat at the table playing whist, gambling with matchsticks, listening to the sound of planes overhead and the pounding of the anti-aircraft guns. Helen pictured the incendiaries descending in their thousands, setting buildings alight across the city. They’d be landing and spitting like fireworks, before bursting into flames; harmless on roads but devastating on the roofs if they weren’t extinguished quickly. Some buildings had firewatchers who, with their stirrup pumps and buckets of sand, smothered the fires. Firemen with their hoses would be tackling the worst of them to stop them spreading, knowing that blazing buildings were a beacon for the next wave of bombers carrying the heavy explosives.
Only once did an explosion sound nearby and Helen shuddered as the reverberations came up through the cellar floor and passed through her body. ‘They’re after the aircraft factory,’ her mother remarked and trumped Helen’s queen.
Around ten o’clock there was a lull in the bombing. ‘I think I’ll go upstairs and have a look,’ said Helen. She kept her voice calm, but inside she was desperate to see any signs that the fires had taken hold in the city.
She came up out of the cellar and already she felt a rise in temperature. On the way up to her bedroom she became aware of a low sound like a wind getting up, but it wasn’t until she opened her bedroom door that she realised it was the distant roar of flames devouring the city. She caught her breath at the sight of the fiery sky and stood mesmerised. It’s all gone, she thought, and her blood ran cold at the thought of Jim in the middle of such an inferno. She glanced down at the street below and in the cast of orange light she could pick out the cobbles on the road and a child’s hopscotch chalked on the pavement below. Then her ear caught the distant droning sound, closer and closer it came. Overhead, the searchlights flashed and arced across the sky… searching, searching.
For a moment the house seemed to tremble then a deafening roar filled her ears and she let out a scream at the sight of the huge black shapes rushing over, one after the other, flying so low that she could see the markings on their fuselages.
She shouldn’t have left the cellar, Jim would be furious when he found out that she had been watching the bombing, but she was rooted to the spot. She pictured him in his uniform organising his crew, doing everything to reduce the risks to keep them safe while they tried to save whatever they could. His words came back to her again: ‘You have to respect the fire, read the fire, and always remember that life comes before property.’ God, how she hoped his words would protect him and his men. She jumped at the noise of a heavy explosion so close that it almost stopped her heart, and debris flew across the street smashing windows and filling the air with the smell of burning and cordite. She turned and ran.
The Girl from the Corner Shop is available at Amazon, Kobo, and Google Play. Thanks to the publisher (Aria), I have an ebook copy of The Girl from the Corner Shop to give away. Please leave a comment with your email address (so I can contact you if you win). The contest ends at 11:59 p.m. EST on July 25. Good Luck! Thank you for popping by today. I am reviewing A Genuine Fix by J.C. Kenney tomorrow as part of The Great Escapes Virtual Book Tour. It is the second An Allie Cobb Mystery. I hope you have a heavenly day. Take care and Happy Reading!
The Avid Reader