An East End Christmas by Elizabeth Waite
My rating: 1 of 5 stars
Carla Scofield has looked after her family since she was a teenager but it's never been a bother because there isn't anything she wouldn't do for those closest to her. Warm, friendly, and with the ability to make everyone around her laugh, she carries her burden proudly.
As the years roll past, Carla sees life around her change dramatically. Wartime brings new challenges and a new job for Carla in a sewing factory, and she shines. It also brings with it love and Carla has a chance at real happiness - but not everyone is rooting for her. With Christmas ahead of her, and her sights set firmly on love and the future, will she be too distracted to sense the danger before it's too late?
This book was unsolicited and not a book that I knew I would enjoy reading so I passed to it my mum who loves historical fiction.
Disappointed is how I felt after reading this novel. I enjoy novels of all genres so was not put off by the historical element attached to this one, however it just didn't live up to expectations. It felt as if the author was writing a synopsis of a book, almost like diary entries and the characters were flat and empty.
The story hinges around WWII and in particular Carla the main East End character. I come from London a Cockney myself and I was therefore intrigued to read this novel, hoping and expecting to feel the warmth and humour that East Enders showed during the war years - I didn't get that feeling.
The story basically is that Carla finds work in a factory not far from where she lives and when they relocate to Southampton she along with other workers are offered the opportunity of moving with the factory which means she has to relocate her home and leave her family. She basically grows up during this period, meets and falls in love with a fellow worker, has some mishaps along the way (won't put any spoilers in although really there are few) and eventually makes good in Southampton. War breaks out and we get some descriptive passages about lack of food and rationing, bombing in London but not much else. The characters were so skimpy that I really didn't have much reason to care what happened to them during the Blitz. The story was like a snapshot in a historical overview of the East End - she missed a great opportunity to showcase the warmth and humour of the people through this traumatic period in time.
As I said, I didn't connect emotionally with Carla, I felt she had no real substance or depth and I couldn't really warm to her. None of the characters really stood out for me, grand dad was looking promising but the writer kills him off too quickly before he has made enough of an impression.
The story was very predictable with no unexpected twists and nothing to set it apart from numerous other novels of this genre - a passable love story. Everything appeared to be rushed we wizz from 1943 to surrender in 1945 of the Germans with no mention of what Carla and her friends are up to. When one co worker Paul Townsend goes missing from work we don't know how long he's been missing for 'quite a while' according to the writer. It seems silly that someone seemingly so important to Carla could be gone without her asking questions before she does!
As I say, predictable, disappointing, just not fleshed out enough in my opinion to be memorable. I found it difficult to keep going with this one to the end - it was just too boring for me and therefore I can only give this 1 star.
I would like to thank the publisher for sending this in exchange for an honest review.