Category: the Thirties

Author Interview | Discussing #HistoricalFiction and “The Girl in the Pink Raincoat” with Alrene Hughes

Posted Wednesday, 24 April, 2019 by jorielov , , 0 Comments

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Hallo, Hallo dear hearts!

As you might remember, I shared my ruminations on a lovely new war drama during #HistoricalMondays this week – which involved the life of Sarah and her daughter Gracie within the pages of “The Girl in the Pink Raincoat”. The story is set on the jump-start of WWII – in 1939 where the whole world is on bated breath and worried about what will come next as memories of the Great War were still fervently in their minds and memories. This is a story of trial, tribulation and adversity of facing fear and of giving yourself a chance to find unconditional love – you truly feel rooted in the setting, as Hughes has such a compelling way of bringing Manchester to life during this particular decade of interest.

Although I have read quite a lot of war dramas throughout my reading life and as a book blogger – this was the first I remember being set outside of the coastal regions of England, the inland townes or cities of England or Wales and outside the scope of the blitzing London endured. It gave a hearty new understanding of what another large city of England was facing and how brave the residents were to endure what was happening to them with little warning – the sense of hopelessness and the fears which arise when your being separated from your children and without the certainty of knowing if there would be a tomorrow in a peaceful world now that your life was being torn apart by war.

I appreciated the ways in which Hughes gave us a chance to get to know her characters before all the changes started to incur in their lives – she tempers the war itself by the interpersonal experiences of her characters’ lives – giving you a proper sense of community and the setting of being in Manchester at the turning of a new decade (the 40s). You truly felt captured by the factories in which Gracie finds employment  – how those interactions with her work mates and the discourse of stress that others in her work cause her – leads you to seeing a fuller sense of what life was for young woman when England joined the second world war.

I wanted to converse with Ms Hughes about how she approached writing this war drama and was wicked happy finding out there was time to add this as a secondary focus on my blog during the blog tour. This was a new author for me to read and as a lover of Historical Fiction, it was a delight of joy to disappear back into the 1930s and see life through the lens of an encapsulated viewing of the early 20th Century.

Brew yourself a cuppa and enjoy this conversation – you’ll have a lovely glimpse of what went on behind-the-book and a few insights into what I loved most about reading the novel, too!

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com Find out why I enjoyed reading “The Girl in the Pink Raincoat”:

When we first alight into Gracie’s life, she’s one of the line workers for raincoats turning out quantity for an order which puts everyone on a bit of an edge. Her boss’s nephew catches her eye, as he would due to his personality and charming features – however, it is her approach to lifting the workday by her presence which hugged me into the story. The comforting encouraging voice of her mother trying to forestall the panic of the pending war gave you a proper sense of where we were in History; as she assuaged their fears but also, relied the truths of their situation in a way which felt more uplifting than horrifying. This was when England was on the fringes of war – before the blitzing and before they would all become afeared of the skies for what they would bring into their lives. You could readily see where Gracie found her font of strength and how she had the courage to do what she was doing – as she came from strong stock, as evidenced by her Mum.

My heart took a clutching moment of realisation when it was revealled Jacob was Jewish – I knew there was going to be a probable cause towards what might separate Gracie and Jacob, as this is in effect a romance caught in the tides of war; however, is anyone ever really prepared for what happened during that particular era? I liked how Hughes dampened the pending circumstances by allowing us to see the young couple together ahead of everything which would soon begin. We could tuck into their lives before the start of war – seeing how the innocence of their attraction and the joyfulness of a relaxing weekend could bring a bit of happiness into their lives. It was quite foretelling on Jacob’s behalf what he remarks to Gracie in that particular moment – about how this could be the last day of spending their hours in idle reprieve? There were little nuanced observations like this which took you backwards in time – to a point where no one was fully aware of how much their lives would become altered as it was all too new to where they were not yet afflicted.

I had to smile and chuckle when Gracie criticised her Mum for using too much vinegar on her hair! I hadn’t heard of this trick to keep the shine in your locks – I love rooting out this kind of trivia from the past – of how women sorted out ways to do things with ingredients we might not think of using today. Some of which, of course, still has merit as not every new way of doing ordinary things is the better option even today. It was keen to see where Jacob took Gracie on her first date as well – I liked how she was off-put at first by his choice and then, how she fell at ease with realising ‘where’ he was taking her wasn’t quite what it appeared on the surface. It spoke to how they both had different impressions and reactions to the same situations but also, how he hadn’t taken the time to disarm her concerns before he surprised her with a nice night out.

There is a lovely ebb and flow to this story – I felt so caught inside the goings-on of Gracie’s life – from the antics of her co-workers to how smitten she was with Jacob. Jacob was a bit of a Renaissance man – preferring the cultural offerings of theatre and music than most men their age. It was a special treat for Gracie to be treated to these kinds of luxuries and it was whilst she was listening to Jacob talk passionately about his love of the theatre where she realised how uniquely different he was from the other blokes she was previously interested in knowing. I felt for her it marked a turning point – about the kind of person she wanted to date and also, the kind of man who could introduce her to the joys in life she hadn’t been exposed too previously.

One of my favourite supporting characters is Gracie’s Mum – whom has her own story-line which I felt was of equal importance to Gracie’s. Her Mum had immigrated from Ireland to begin anew in England – not coming from the best of families and of having her own heart broken in young love. It is interesting too, how the mother had had experience with star-crossed love inasmuch as her daughter – almost as if history was repeating itself for both women. Wherein Hughes talks about the hardships between falling in love with men of a different religion, she also points out how sometimes you have to find the inner strength to stand against the distrust of a society. In this instance, the harder part of the story is the year it is set – 1939 as being at war changed everyone’s perception about everything.

Hughes represents the era well. Including how she eludes to what is going to be happening before you can blink past the horrors of what came next – she gives measure of place and setting for how lives were starting to become affected by the war and how the war was going to change the lives of those who lived in England and the surrounding countries. In small ways, she gave you a chance to navigate those changes – as she lent observations of what was happening in regards to what Gracie saw or how intuitive those round her were becoming of events yet known. Quite a smart way to approach writing a war drama as those of us who read a heap of these can appreciate this approach. It is the calm before the pending storm but it is also instinctive of human nature.

This is a very evolving story-line – at the heart of it is a young girl who is caught in the throes of first love on the fringes of the second world war. You find yourself following in her footsteps as she moves from one factory to another, trying to carve out a living wage at a time where jobs are scarce and there is a boiling effect of fear running through the undertone of society. No one understands what is going to happen next and with everything on the brink, it paints a solid portrait of how ‘life at home’ during the war years was just as trying as those who were fighting it. The women in the factories were oft-times placed in danger due to the kind of co-workers they found in those factories, which I felt Hughes highlighted well. However, rather than keeping this a darker tale of intrigue wrapped inside a war drama – she also etches out a lot of light, random joys and a sense of community amongst the friendships Gracie is able to maintain throughout the ordeal she finds the strength to survive.

-quoted from my review of The Girl in the Pink Raincoat

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Author Interview | Discussing #HistoricalFiction and “The Girl in the Pink Raincoat” with Alrene HughesThe Girl in the Pink Raincoat
by Alrene Hughes
Source: Direct from Publisher

In wartime it takes courage to follow your heart.

Manchester, 1939.

Everyone hated the heat and the deafening noise, but for Gracie the worst thing was the smell of chemicals that turned her stomach every morning when she arrived at the Rosenberg Raincoats factory.

Gracie is a girl on the factory floor. Jacob is the boss's charismatic nephew. When they fall in love, it seems as if the whole world is against them – especially Charlie Nuttall, who also works at the factory and has always wanted Gracie for himself.

But worse is to come when Jacob disappears and Gracie is devastated, vowing to find him. Can she solve the mystery of his whereabouts? Gracie will need all her strength and courage to find a happy ending.

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 9781788543972

Also by this author: The Girl in the Pink Raincoat

Genres: Historical Fiction, Historical Women's Fiction, Women's Fiction


Published by Head of Zeus

on 1st March, 2019

Format: UK Edition Paperback

 Published By:  Published By: Head of Zeus (@HoZ_Books)
{imprint of} Simon & Schuster (

Converse via: #GirlInThePinkRaincoat, #HistNov and #HistFic
Available Formats: Hardcover, Trade Paperback, Audiobook & Ebook

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

What first inspired the story “The Girl in the Pink Raincoat” and of setting the story against the backdrop of the world war era in 1939?

Hughes responds: I had previously written a trilogy of WWII novels set in Belfast where I grew up. I then decided to write about Manchester, where I have lived for most of my adult life. Both were industrial cities, crucial to the war effort, and heavily bombed. The main character, Gracie, came to me straightaway and fully formed. A lively, confident young woman who would have the strength to endure the worst of what war could throw at her. Read More

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Posted Wednesday, 24 April, 2019 by jorielov in #HistoricalMondays, 20th Century, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, Content Note, Domestic Violence, England, Fly in the Ointment, Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction, Publishers & Presses (Direct Reviews), Realistic Fiction, the Thirties, The World Wars, War Drama, Women's Fiction

Blog Book Tour | “The Girl in the Pink Raincoat” by Alrene Hughes

Posted Monday, 22 April, 2019 by jorielov , , 0 Comments

#HistoricalMondays blog banner created by Jorie in Canva.

Acquired Book By: In February, I was invited to join the Head of Zeus blog tour for the Historical novel “The Girl in the Pink Raincoat” which I was overjoyed in having discovered. Although I love to dance and weave myself through different genres of interest each year, I must confess, one of my favourites to disappear inside is Historical Fiction! This is a new author and my first Head of Zeus novel I’ve had the pleasure of reading. I was quite thankful to be included on the blog tour for this title and I can’t wait to share my ruminations with my readers!

I received a complimentary copy of “The Girl in the Pink Raincoat” direct from the publisher Head of Zeus in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

The reason reading ”The Girl in the Pink Raincoat” appealled to me:

I have a penchant for Women’s Fiction and a new interest for Historical Women’s Fiction which I felt this particular title fit into a niche rather perfectly as it is about one woman’s journey. I have a soft spot in my bookish heart for war dramas which is also what tipped my hat towards wanting to seek this out to read!

I’ve had a bit of a break from reading war dramas – I had to opt to seek out the human interest stories within the war dramas I was previously reading, as some of the harder hitting ones set within the scope of the war itself were becoming a bit too much for me to process. Thereby, I’ve been trying to re-focus on the kinds of dramas I am reading during the world war era and this particular one caught my eye due to the description and what I was hoping it would reveal of the journey Gracie took to sort out the truth of what happened to her beloved.

I love stories of this nature – the kind which take you on a journey and even despite the hard circumstances behind the drama, there is something to be said for how a writer approaches their narrative and how they capture your heart in the process of telling you a story you simply cannot put down. This is what I was hoping I’d find within the pages of the novel and quite happily as you’ll soon find out – this is exactly what I discovered inside The Girl in the Pink Raincoat!

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

Blog Book Tour | “The Girl in the Pink Raincoat” by Alrene HughesThe Girl in the Pink Raincoat
by Alrene Hughes
Source: Direct from Publisher

In wartime it takes courage to follow your heart.

Manchester, 1939.

Everyone hated the heat and the deafening noise, but for Gracie the worst thing was the smell of chemicals that turned her stomach every morning when she arrived at the Rosenberg Raincoats factory.

Gracie is a girl on the factory floor. Jacob is the boss's charismatic nephew. When they fall in love, it seems as if the whole world is against them – especially Charlie Nuttall, who also works at the factory and has always wanted Gracie for himself.

But worse is to come when Jacob disappears and Gracie is devastated, vowing to find him. Can she solve the mystery of his whereabouts? Gracie will need all her strength and courage to find a happy ending.

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 9781788543972

Also by this author: The Girl in the Pink Raincoat

Genres: Historical Fiction, Historical Women's Fiction, Women's Fiction


Published by Head of Zeus

on 1st March, 2019

Format: UK Edition Paperback

Pages: 368

 Published By:  Published By: Head of Zeus (@HoZ_Books)
{imprint of} Simon & Schuster (

Converse via: #GirlInThePinkRaincoat, #HistNov and #HistFic
Available Formats: Hardcover, Trade Paperback, Audiobook & Ebook

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

About Alrene Hughes

Alrene Hughes

Alrene Hughes grew up in Belfast and has lived in Manchester for most of her adult life. She worked for British Telecom and the BBC before training as an English teacher. After teaching for twenty years, she retired and now writes full-time.

Read More

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

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Posted Monday, 22 April, 2019 by jorielov in #HistoricalMondays, 20th Century, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, Content Note, Domestic Violence, England, Fly in the Ointment, Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction, Publishers & Presses (Direct Reviews), Realistic Fiction, the Thirties, The World Wars, War Drama, Women's Fiction

Book Review | Series Showcase: The Darling Dahlias by Susan Wittig Albert Novels 1-6-7 feat. the latest release: The Darling Dahlias and the Unlucky Clover

Posted Friday, 16 March, 2018 by jorielov , , , , 0 Comments

Book Review badge created by Jorie in Canva using Unsplash.com photography (Creative Commons Zero).

Borrowed Book By: I’ve attempted to read the serial fiction offerings by Ms Albert for quite a number of years; I even have a copy of the first novel in the China Bayles series – which I previously attempted to read during #BoutofBooks a few years ago. I haven’t even had the pleasure of picking up the first Cottage Tales of Beatrix Potter! I adored reading ‘Loving Eleanor’ and dearly want to continue reading Ms Albert’s Biographical Historical Fiction novels because she has a wonderful gift for etching out the women whose lives she’s focusing on bringing forward into our own awareness of what they endured whilst they were alive.

However, this particular series ‘the Darling Dahlias’ seemed like a good fit for me – mostly as it’s set during the 1930s (one of my favourite eras), is historical in contrast whilst set within a garden club in the rural South. Southern Fiction is one of my favourites to be reading aside from Historical Fiction – this series is a happy compliment to both with a nod towards ‘Cosy Mysteries’ (another beloved of mine!).

Ergo, I decided before I signed on for the blog tour this Spring to see if my local library had the first sixth novels in the series – blessedly they *did!* and I happily selected the first three to arrive together whilst holding off for the next three until I knew I was starting the first half of the series. All of these readings would happily put me in the throes of the series ahead of reading the beautiful ARC which I received for the blog tour on behalf of “The Darling Dahlias and the Unlucky Clover” in exchange for an honest review.

I borrowed all the novels in the Darling Dahlias series in hardback edition from my local library. I was not obligated to post a review as I am doing so for my own edification as a reader who loves to share her readerly life. I was not compensated for my thoughts shared herein for either the books I borrowed at my library or the ARC I received  for review on the blog tour.

Initially, this was my plan of action for reading the Darling Dahlias series – however, in late February, after several weeks of added strife and stress, my family and I ended a five month crisis wherein I felt tremendous relief to have the weight finally off our shoulders. I was going to attempt to read the series little by little rather than in a personal Marathon sprint like I had the Seven Sisters series by Lucinda Riley at the end of January.

Except to say, I had too much on my mind and heart – I ended up having to let the series go back to my library unread except I saved back the first novel and the sixth novel – fearing that despite the fact I had to shorten my readings of the series, I was going to approach this series like I’ve approached reading the Samuel Craddock series: I’ll get a taste for the characters, the setting and the styling of narrative now as the latest release is upon us to celebrate whilst giving myself the grace to realise the rest of the series can wait for me to resume reading it at a latter date.

In regards to Samuel Craddock and my listening of the Cosy Mysteries by Lisa B. Thomas – both of those series are upcoming next on my blog – as I’m digging into the next two I have in-line to finish ahead of the weekend. I look forward to continuing to share my thoughts on these lovelies as similar in vein to the Darling Dahlias, I do fancy a wicked good Cosy time after time! The Craddock series is cosier than hard-boils but for me personally, I’d classify it as ‘dramatic crime fiction’ as it truly speaks to the heart of the series as it’s being written.

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.comBook Review | Series Showcase: The Darling Dahlias by Susan Wittig Albert Novels 1-6-7 feat. the latest release: The Darling Dahlias and the Unlucky CloverThe Darling Dahlias series Novels 1-6-7
Subtitle: The Darling Dahlias and the Unlucky Clover
by Susan Wittig Albert
Source: Author via Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours, Borrowed from local library

NYT bestselling author Susan Wittig Albert returns to Depression-era Darling, Alabama…​where the ladies of the Dahlias, the local garden club, are happy to dig a little dirt!

In the seventh book of this popular series, it looks like the music has ended for Darling’s favorite barbershop uiquartet, the Lucky Four Clovers—just days before the Dixie Regional Barbershop Competition. Another unlucky break: a serious foul-up in Darling’s telephone system—and not a penny for repairs. And while liquor is legal again, moonshine isn’t. Sheriff Buddy Norris needs a little luck when he goes into Briar Swamp to confront Cypress County’s most notorious bootlegger. What he finds upends his sense of justice.

Once again, Susan Wittig Albert has told a charming story filled with richly human characters who face the Great Depression with courage and grace. She reminds us that friends offer the best of themselves to each other, community is what holds us together, and luck is what you make it.

Bonus features: Liz Lacy’s Garden Gate column on “lucky” plants, plus the Dahlias’ collection of traditional Southern pie recipes and a dash of cookery history. Reading group questions, more recipes, and Depression-era info can be found on the Darling Dahlias website linked in the author's biography on this review.

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

Find on Book Browse

ISBN: 978-0996904032

Also by this author: Loving Eleanor

Genres: Amateur Detective, Cosy Historical Mystery, Women's Fiction


Published by Berkley Prime Crime, Persevero Press

on 6th of March, 2018

Format: Hardcover Edition, Paperback ARC

Pages: 280

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The Darling Dahlias series:

Published By: Berkley Prime Crime (@BerkleyMystery)

imprint of Berkley Publishing (@BerkleyPub)

via Penguin Random House (@penguinrandom)

The Darling Dahlias and the Cucumber Tree (Book One)

The Darling Dahlias and the Naked Ladies (Book Two) | Synopsis

The Darling Dahlias and the Confederate Rose (Book Three) | Synopsis

The Darling Dahlias and the Texas Star (Book Four) | Synopsis

The Darling Dahlias and the Silver Dollar Bush (Book Five) | Synopsis

The Darling Dahlias and the Eleven O’ Clock Lady (Book Six) | Synopsis

Published By: Persevero Press
(author directed publishing platform)

The Darling Dahlias and the Unlucky Clover (Book Seven)

Available Formats: Hardcover, Audiobook, Paperback and Ebook

View a Map of Darling via the official site for the Darling Dahlias series

Converse via: #DarlingDahlias

About Susan Wittig Albert

Susan Wittig Albert

Susan Wittig Albert is the award-winning, NYT bestselling author of the forthcoming historical novel Loving Eleanor (2016), about the intimate friendship of Eleanor Roosevelt and Lorena Hickok; and A Wilder Rose (2014), about Rose Wilder Lane and the writing of the Little House books.

Her award-winning fiction also includes mysteries in the China Bayles series, the Darling Dahlias, the Cottage Tales of Beatrix Potter, and a series of Victorian-Edwardian mysteries she has written with her husband, Bill Albert, under the pseudonym of Robin Paige.

She has written two memoirs: An Extraordinary Year of Ordinary Days and Together, Alone: A Memoir of Marriage and Place, published by the University of Texas Press.

Her nonfiction titles include What Wildness is This: Women Write About the Southwest (winner of the 2009 Willa Award for Creative Nonfiction); Writing from Life: Telling the Soul’s Story; and Work of Her Own: A Woman’s Guide to Success Off the Career Track.

She is founder and current president (2015-2017) of the Story Circle Network and a member of the Texas Institute of Letters.

Site for A Wilder Rose
Site for China Bayles series | Site for Darling Dahlias series | Site for the Cottage Tales series
Mystery Novels with her husband
Story Circle

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Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

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Posted Friday, 16 March, 2018 by jorielov in 20th Century, Amateur Detective, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, Compassion & Acceptance of Differences, Cosy Mystery, Crime Fiction, Equality In Literature, Historical Fiction, Silver Hair Sleuths, Small Towne USA, the Thirties