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Ratings and Book Reviews ()

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4.7 out of 5
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  • Fascinating Story, Beautiful Prose

    Set in London during WWI, this fourth book in the Harpers series exudes charm, heartache, heroism, love and intrigue. So many unknowns, so much waiting for news of loved ones. Mail is often delayed or mislaid which exacerbates tension and stress. I could almost feel the atmosphere. Each Harpers girl is involved in the war in completely different ways, directly and indirectly, all heroines in their drive and determination to aid in the war where their particular skills lie. Their selflessness is truly amazing, though they didn't particularly believe it of themselves. They just wanted to help. Sally manages Harpers and finds enterprising ways to keep staff and the store financially viable in spite of difficulties sourcing goods. Maggie and Sadie are nurses who are housed in primitive conditions and live the horrors of those injured. One duty is to cheer up the soldiers which is not easy, especially as their personal lives are in upheaval. Beth's husband is at sea, a constant worry. Descriptions and emotions of what war was like are fascinating and gut wrenching. The author captures the intensity and strife very well. Imagining myself there was easy. Historical Fiction readers and those intrigued by this era ought to read this. I read it in one sitting, immediately drawn in. My sincere thank you to Boldwood Books and NetGalley for providing me with an ARC for this charming book in exchange for an honest review. Much appreciated.

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  • An Enthralling Tale!

    Another great addition to this wonderful series and, as we are still in the midst of war by the end, I'm hoping for more to come! With the men called to war in one capacity or another, the women are left to carry on holding the fort; Sally is running Harper's single-handedly, Maggie has signed up for nursing, Beth is worrying about her husband in the Merchant Navy and Marion is looking after her family whilst longing for the time she can commit to Reggie. And on top of all this, they all find time to help in the war effort! I've loved every single novel in this series; the characters are varied and interesting, the story lines both realistic and gripping. It's lovely to be catching up with them all and finding out how their lives are affected by war, as well as being hooked by everything they're getting up to. An exciting and enthralling tale, and one which I thoroughly enjoyed. My only criticism would be that the Americans used very British language which niggled at me a bit. A recommended read, and one I'm happy to give 4*.

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  • Surface-Level Tragedy That Doesn't Hit

    Set in 1915, England is caught up in the height of wartime, the women at home doing what they can to support their men from afar and to keep themselves distracted from looming disaster. As always, the focus of the Harpers Emporium series remains on the female shopgirls that opened the store, their abiding friendship, and the lives of those they affect. Sally Harper, the boss’s wife, and new mother to their little girl, balances running the day-to-day business of Harpers Emporium while worrying for her husband, Ben, and his new career working for the War Office. Beth Burrows immerses herself in her work at Harpers to distract from her concern for her husband, Jack. At sea with the Merchant Navy, she goes weeks without word from him, fear for his safety ever present. Rachel Bailey is newly-married, her happiness only shadowed by the frequent trips her William must make as part of the war effort. Thank goodness for good friends and trips to the hospital to comfort wounded soldiers with Sally. Maggie Gibbs, the youngest of the original Harpers quartet, made the decision to leave the shop, and her friends, and all she knows really, to join the volunteer nurses on the front. It’s grueling work but Maggie knows she must do all she can do to give hope to those soldiers fighting for their lives and their country. Marion Kaye, the newest hire in the lady’s department, is already part of the Harpers family. With her mother gone, her father who-knows-where, and her older brothers all off at war, her younger siblings’ care falls heavy on her shoulders. It doesn’t help that her boyfriend, Reggie, has signed up to fight as well. Mr. Marco, Harpers resident window dresser, gives us a glimpse at the warfront, having retired from his position to volunteer to fight and being placed undercover by his superiors. Though removed from the heat of battle, Marco’s job is no less dangerous, his assignment placing him up close and personal with the German soldiers his fellow recruits combat. Clearly thoroughly researched, the world of the story is quite fleshed out. With nitty-gritty details of the daily department grind of Harpers -- prices and stock and all -- to an in-depth timeline of the events of the war, the author is obviously a fan of the time. I would caution any unsuspecting readers that this story is set in 1915 through and through; there are multiple instances of sexist and misogynist comments and similar internalized beliefs of the time sprinkled throughout this book and the others in the series. For example, without naming who, one of the women finds herself at the doctor to confirm a suspected pregnancy, and her male physician states, in all seriousness, “I hope you will take the time to enjoy motherhood. . .It is, after all, a woman’s proper function.” And the woman in question responds with gusto, thrilled to have a child after multiple misfortunes of many kinds. Interesting to have such outdated beliefs combined with a very progressive and accepting view of LGBTQ+ characters. It’s a unique contrast of old world ideas with modern knowledge. The best part of this series, evident throughout, is the strength of the girls’ friendship. Each woman is willing to do anything for any of the others; it’s a beautiful thing. Bonded by both their time at Harpers and their mutual worry for their respective men on the front, the Harpers girls have a deeper bond than ever before. The book ends with no true resolution, the door wide open for future sequels. Though we have glimmers of hope and a few happy “beginnings” for some of the novel’s many couples, there are just as many groupings that have yet to be reunited. The war is ongoing, after all. Though helpful to have read the previous three novels, it is not necessary to read the entire series to follow the events of this installment. With a cast of characters that grows exponentially with each new novel, the revolving perspectives fill in the blanks meticulously. My biggest criticism would be that this book, along with all previous installments of the Harpers Emporium series, feels like a collection of events rather than a story with a plot and purpose. A decent enough read for those who care only for historical details rather than a gripping work of fiction. I left feeling rather blasé about the girls’ plights; though told by the narrative I should care, the story was ineffective at affecting. Thanks to the publishers for providing a copy of the book in exchange for a fair and honest review!

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  • Harpers Heroes

    Truly enjoy the Harpers Emporium series. Four strong young women that work together and become friends. They face twists and turns in their lives with courage and determination. Yet they remain true to their friends, giving them encouragement and love. Cannot wait for the next book.

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  • Love it

    Another great story, couldn't put it down. Hope there's another one on the way

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