A Gift from Woolworths by Elaine Everest — New Review (Blog Tour)

A Gift From Woolworths

I’ve never been part of a blog tour before, and I thought it would make me feel like a Legitimate Blogger (TM), so I jumped at the chance to review A Gift from Woolworths. I haven’t read any of Elaine Everest’s previous books in this series, but I love Call the Midwife, and I thought this might be similar. I was, sadly, disappointed. The emotional moments that work in A Gift from Woolworths are similar in tone to what I love about Call the Midwife — the main characters helping one another out, healing rifts between them, or standing up for their right to do their work — but there are just as many moments that didn’t land for me. In some cases, this may be because I had trouble keeping the characters and their relationships straight (something I imagine readers with the four previous books under their belts would manage better), but even characters introduced for the first time in this novel managed to leave me cold.

“For a while she’d felt as though her dream had been snatched away from her, but now she could almost smell the roses round the door and see the years ahead with her making a home for her husband, Alan Gilbert, manager of a Woolworths store.”
A Gift from Woolworths, Elaine Everest

What I most enjoyed about A Gift from Woolworths was the exploration of the gender dynamics, particularly around women working. It was honestly just sad to see the lengths the female characters would go to in order to ensure their male friends and partners wouldn’t feel jealous of their success. While this was almost certainly accurate to the period, I did struggle to sympathise with some of the men as a result.

“She’d found it best to get home from work and remove her office clothes, wash off the make-up and turn back into a wife and mother before he came home from the workshop.”
A Gift from Woolworths, Elaine Everest

Elaine Everest managed moments of genuine humour, and at least one thrill late in the story. I think my lack of investment in the characters really hindered my enjoyment, especially as this was written to be a ‘goodbye’ to an established group of friends. 300 pages into the book, I still wasn’t sure which one was Sarah. I’d recommend A Gift from Woolworths to people who’ve already read the first four books in this series, though as I haven’t read them, I can’t really compare how this measures up. Don’t take my word for it, I really recommend you check out a few of the other stops on this blog tour! I particularly recommend the review by GingerBookGeek, who had read the earlier novels.

A Gift From Woolworths Banner6

Next, I’ll be reading Bend Sinister by Vladimir Nabokov.

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