The Woolworths Girl’s Promise – Elaine Everest

Published By: Pan Macmillan
Page: 368
Released On: 16/03/2023

After losing her beloved fiancé at Ypres in 1917, seventeen-year-old Elizabeth Billington faces a lonely future estranged from her upper-class parents due to her association with Charlie Sayers and his working-class family. No longer able to live under her parent’s roof she is taken in by Charlie’s father, escaping the suffocating demands of her parents.

Betty soon learns all too well about the realities of life after an accident at the Woolwich Arsenal munitions works. Spotting an advertisement for a nearby job at Woolworths, Betty starts on a new and thrilling journey starting at the bottom of the employment ladder in the well-known store.

Her work journey leads her to Ramsgate in Kent to work in a newly built store and with it the chance of marriage, but can she ever forget Charlie and the promise she made to him…?


*Contains slight character spoilers*

Thanks to Pan Macmillan for the gifted proof of this book in return for an honest review and a spot on the book tour.

This is number eight in a well established series, a series I have not read before. I was informed the books are designed to be readable as standalone books, but I was still a little wary. But I have to agree with them. Sure, you’ll probably notice things I didn’t if you’ve read the rest of the stories. There may be quirks that you’re used to and can pick up on things. But I don’t think it’s detrimental in anyway to start this far into a series. If anything, it might be better for the author, as I’ll probably end up buying the other books now as I’ve enjoyed this one so much.

I really do miss Woolworths. I know this is set in WW1 and its aftermath, and so the Woolworths of then is not the same as the Woolworths of my childhood, but there’s definitely this sense of nostalgia for the shop that I liked.

Like I say, I know this is set during and after the First World War, and the subsequent Spanish Flu, which obviously was a very sad and difficult time, but there also seemed to be a magic to the early 1900s, which was captured perfectly. Granted, I’d rather not have the bombs and the whatnot. But there’s this elegance about the period that I like reading about. It’s a historical book, but feels very modern and it’s highly entertaining.

It’s light and fun to read, but doesn’t hide away from the hardships of the time: war, injury, death, explosives, grief, how women were treated, the disparity between the upper class and the lower class. And its those topics that gives this story the gravitas it deserves.

There’s a number of characters in this book, but I’ve picked out a few to talk about in further detail:

Betty – Our main character. She is a wonderful main character. She’s innocent and shielded, but doesn’t rest on her laurels, she is determined to make something of herself. She is a woman in a man’s world, but she wants so much more and to prove that she can do so much more.

Betty’s Parents – I didn’t like them at all. They would pick their social standing over their daughter, even at times where she ma be in danger. I know it was a different time, but surely your only child comes first?

Hobby – A kindly older woman who lives next door to Betty’s parents. She is the mother figure Betty always craved. She is a wonderful character and leaps ahead of her time.

Charlie – we don’t get to know him for long, but he seems like the perfect match for Betty, even if they are from different social backgrounds.

Harold – Charlie’s dad. A grieving man, but a nasty man. He feels like the complete opposite of his son. He feels he is owed something by Betty that she is not comfortable with. He’s an imposing and unpleasant character.

Richard – One of Woolworths’ managers. I didn’t take to him at first, but he did start to endear himself to me. I couldn’t fully decide if I liked him or not, but he’s a much more fully rounded character than I thought he might be.

Doreen – One of Woolworths’ supervisors. A bit brash and harsh at first, but you soon find she has this soft centre that Betty understands.

Overall I would say this is a highly enjoyable, entertaining, beautiful story, and I would definitely recommend reading it. It provides an honest look at the time, the war and the ensuing pandemic, but provides us with such a hopeful story. Above everything else, that is how I would describe this book. Hopeful. There’s hope that the war will end and that the men will come home. There’s hope that you may find love – romantic or platonic. There’s hope of a family. There’s hope of work. There’s hope that no matter who you are or where you come from, you can make something of yourself. And that is a truly beautiful thing.

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