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    Great read .. packed with detail!

    This is not the first Mary Gibson book which I’ve read, and it certainly won’t be the last. Hattie’s Home is a great read on so many levels: the friendship of three women, the working lives of Londoners and the sheer hardship which rationing and lack of basic comforts thrust upon the population. Hattie returns home to Bermondsey after eight years in the army .. eight happy years in which she has grown as a person and really loved her job. Thinking she was returning to help her mother out, she gets a rude awakening. Clara returns home to her family after having sailed to Australia as a service bride – but with a mixed heritage baby her parents close the door on her. Lou has lost her husband, daughter and parents to the war and has suffered so badly that her son is running wild on the streets. As she gives birth again, she asks the midwife to give her new daughter to another family who can look after her better than she can. Finding each other is the salvation of all three women – but life is by no means easy. I love that this novel takes up where most finish. The poverty endured is almost unbelievable in this day and age. ‘Bambeating’ made me think that Health & Safety would have had a field day! The indomitable spirit of the characters makes this book compulsive reading. I was glued to it as the story played out. Highly recommended to all those who enjoy a good read and like to learn something at the same time. This book is packed with details which will both entertain and shock! My thanks to Melanie Price at Head of Zeus for the arc of this novel. This is my honest, original and unbiased review.
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    Latest novel by Mary Gibson

    Hattie’s Home by Mary Gibson sweeps you back in time to 1947 in Bermondsey, England. Hattie Wright is returning home after serving eight years as a sergeant in the ATS. Hattie received a letter from her mother, Cissie asking her to return because she was “almost blind”. Bermondsey was hit hard by the bombs during the war leaving devastation behind. Many homes were destroyed causing a severe housing shortage. After traveling two days from Belgium to get home and then being attacked by a gang of kids, Hattie discovers her mother is just fine and has a new beau living with her in the one habitable room of their house. Unable to find office work, Hattie returns to the Alaska-a fur factory (thanks to her friend, Buster). While working in the factory, she takes Clara and Lou under her wing. Clara is returning from Australia disgraced and with a child. She has no money and her parents will not welcome her in their home. Clara fell in love with an Australian soldier who was not white and hiding a terrible secret. Lou is a widow with a mischievous (and unruly) son and a new baby. She is grieving the loss of her daughter, Sue who died in the bombings along with her husband. Unable to take living on her mother’s couch, Hattie seeks out a new place to live. She discovers empty army huts that would be habitable with a few improvements. One is occupied by a chemist from the Alaska named Joe. Hattie and others move in to the dwellings, but then Hattie’s ex-fiancé (a dangerous man) decides they want them (and force people to pay rent). He will go to great lengths to get the tenants to vacate. Will the tenants be able to defeat the bullies? Hattie’s Home is well-written, and I was drawn into the book at the beginning. I thought it was an engaging story. The author captured the city and what it was like after World War II (the devastation—the bombed-out buildings). Rationing was still in effect for many years (on food and clothing) and housing was impossible to find (unless you had deep pockets). The author did her research for the book and incorporated the facts without overwhelming the story (or making it seem like a textbook). I thought Hattie’s Home was realistic. Life was hard for these people, but they had hope, love, family, resilience, determination, community and friendship. The author did not sugar coat the grim realities. I liked how people came together to help each other out (something we do not see today). Hattie was a great main character. She is strong, independent, intelligent and spunky. I liked that Hattie’s Home takes place after the war. It affected each person differently and we get to experience it from different perspectives in Hattie’s Home. The book has a slower pace, but it goes with the story (suits it). I found the children flats program creative and a wonderful way to get the kids off the street where they were wreaking havoc (and getting killed from unexploded ordinances). The ending is heartwarming and will have readers smiling. This was the first book that I have read by Mary Gibson, but it will not be my last.

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