She handed round the tea. “It’s not champagne, but it tastes just as nice…”
Refreshing, unpretentious, widely loved – what better metaphor for this fifth addition to the Woolworths saga?
It’s 1947, and the staff in the Erith store as well as the wider community are awaiting two sets of nuptials. One is to take place in Westminster Abbey between Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip. The other is to be in Erith, as local councillor George ties the knot with Woolworths canteen cook Maureen.
But as two happy couples unite, another marriage heads for the rocks…
Times are hard in the post-war years. Cheery Maisie is doing well with her inventive dressmaking and salvage skills – the author describes her making do and mending (with added flair) with an enthusiasm that’s truly infectious.
However business isn’t so good for Alan’s motorbike repair shop, and he’s made an unwise decision that will have catastrophic repercussions.
Single mum Sadie is further scandalising her acid-tongued grandmother Vera by striking up a close friendship with Lemuel, who came from Trinidad to work as RAF ground crew during the war. But does he have a secret in his past that will shock even her?
The action hots up, with historical insights
I confess this is the first Woolworths book I’d read and I took a little while to get into it. But the action soon hots up, with a road accident involving an Olympic hopeful, an arson attack and a possible case of deadly scarlet fever testing the strong bonds of family and community.
The historical insight into the 1948 London Olympics is an eye-opener, with competitors’ wives queuing for the mangle after hand-washing their kit!
But Alan has made some powerful enemies and just as the community celebrates another wedding, the looming clouds of menace roll in overhead… with tragic consequences.
A store that acts as a surrogate family
To us, Woolworths is a beacon of nostalgia. To its staff in this series, it is a surrogate family to all in need of comfort, practical support… or a firm talking-to.
Sadder for the loss of some of its own, we know this fiercely loyal community will nevertheless survive.
Yes, indeed – who needs champagne when you have tea that tastes every bit as nice?