The Palace Of Strange Girls by Sallie Day
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
From the publishers blurb:
Blackpool, 1959. The Singleton family is on holiday. Seven-year-old Beth is trying to avoid her mother Ruth's eagle-eyed supervision, while her sixteen-year-old sister Helen has befriended a waitress whose fun-loving ways hint at a life beyond Ruth's strict rules. When a letter arrives from Crete, a secret re-emerges from the wartime past of Ruth's husband Jack that could destroy their marriage. As Helen is tempted outside the safe confines of her mother's strict edicts, and Beth forges her own path, all four Singletons must struggle to find their place in a shifting world of promenade amusements, illicit sex and stilted afternoon teas
I was a bit disappointed with the style of writing of this book, it was my reading group selection for this month, and when I saw the cover I thought "great this is going to be my cup of tea". I loved the era and setting of the late 50s in a seaside holiday resort and liked how each chapter began with a paragraph from an Eye spy at the seaside book which brought back a lot of memories of my own childhood just a few years after this book was set, it was really well researched and descriptive, very evocative of the years of austerity and change in the 1950s and brought it home how much things have changed in such a short time span but I found the characters pretty one dimensional; found it really hard to relate to or warm to most of them.
Considering it was set in a holiday resort and from the picture on the front I expected a light fun holiday type read but it was pretty bleak and grim in most places. I wanted to know much more about the Palace of Strange Girls which was almost incidental to the storyline and wish it had focussed much more on Beth the little girl who was recovering from a major operation, as promised at the beginning rather than her very dysfunctional parents to whom I wanted to give a good shake.
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