His entry begins:
I am rather hopeless at finishing one book before I start another – so, as is often the case, I currently have three on the go. Melanie McGrath’s wonderful book Hopping is a sequel of sorts to her bestseller Silvertown, and describes the annual East Enders’ ‘holiday’ to the hop-fields of Kent, based on a true story she came across in correspondence with a reader. It was on my to-read list when I was working on my book The Sugar Girls, about women factory workers in the East End, but my co-author and I ended up dividing up the books we had bought between us to save time, and I’ve only just got around to it now. It’s a beautifully written, captivating glimpse at a lost way of life, as well as a very...[read on]About The Sugar Girls, from the publisher:
In the years leading up to and after the Second World War thousands of women left school at fourteen to work in the bustling factories of London’s East End. Despite long hours, hard and often hazardous work, factory life afforded exciting opportunities for independence, friendship and romance. Of all the factories that lined the docks, it was at Tate and Lyle’s where you could earn the most generous wages and enjoy the best social life, and it was here where The Sugar Girls worked.Visit the official blog of The Sugar Girls for pictures, excerpts, reviews and more.
Through the Blitz and on through the years of rationing The Sugar Girls kept Britain sweet. The work was back-breakingly hard, but Tate & Lyle was more than just a factory, it was a community, a calling, a place of love and support and an uproarious, tribal part of the East End. From young Ethel to love-worn Lillian, irrepressible Gladys to Miss Smith who tries to keep a workforce of flirtatious young men and women on the straight and narrow, this is an evocative, moving story of hunger, hardship and happiness.
Tales of adversity, resilience and youthful high spirits are woven together to provide a moving insight into a lost way of life, as well as a timeless testament to the experience of being young and female.
Duncan Barrett studied English at Cambridge and now works as writer and editor, specializing in biography and memoir.
The Page 99 Test: The Sugar Girls.
Writers Read: Duncan Barrett.