The Palace Of Strange Girls

The Palace Of Strange Girls by Sallie Day

In books read on November 15, 2011

The Singleton family from Blackburn spend their 1959 Wakes Week, the local shutdown holiday, in Blackpool, along with plenty of others from their hometown. This story is a week in the company of upwardly mobile housewife Ruth, her husband Jack who is harbouring his own secrets and ambitions, sixteen year old Helen who is impatient to become a youth of the sixties, and seven year old Beth who is recovering from a serious illness and is being very coddled against her will as a result. I loved it.

I found the story absorbing and interesting, full of period colour. The characters are fabulous and I really cared about them. I liked the way the flashbacks were separated completely from the 1959 story. And the integration of I-Spy books (a staple of my 1970s childhood too, and still going strong for my daughter except Big Chief I-Spy of Wigwam-by-the-water has been replaced by Michelin's Bibendum) is completely brilliant. I rarely read the little chapter heading quotes in books, this book is very much the exception, the I-Spy quotes really made the book.

There are places where the author's knowledge of Lancashire cotton mills becomes a bit too "look how well I've done my research" and there's an epilogue which was nice but I thought it might have been a stronger book if the future beyond the summer holiday had been left to the reader's imagination, it would have had less "feel good"-ness about it then though.

I found the book via Goodreads recommendations and will be looking them up again!

This was a kindle eBook.

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