Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Book Chat - The Beantown Girls by Jane Healey

This wasn't the first book I intended to mention in a book chat. In fact, I haven't even seen The Beantown Girls by Jane Healey. I ordered it for the library yesterday, and I recommended it to my mother. It actually came out at the beginning of the month, so if your library has it, or you want to order it, it's available or soon will be. It's the background of the book that I find fascinating, a story I didn't know about World War II.

Here's the quick summary, first, of The Beantown Girls. Most of the summary is from Booklist, February 2019. "When her fiance, Danny, is declared missing in action, Fiona decides to join the Red Cross Clubmobile girls, whose mission is to accompany the troops, serving coffee and doughnuts and boosting morale." Fiona and her best friends from Boston Teachers College are shipped to England, but Fiona wants to get to the continent, hoping to get closer to Danny, and maybe find him. This novel sends all three women to Europe during World War II, in a story involving wartime romances.

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Did you catch the line that said the three women joined the Red Cross Clubmobile girls? I've read a number of novels set during World War II, and some nonfiction. I've never heard of Clubmobile girls. There's actually a history online at http://www.clubmobile.org/history.html, and the Wikipedia article quotes it. But, there are pictures of some of the women in the online history. The Clubmobile services started in 1941, and ran throughout the war years. There were also variations operating during the Korean War and Vietnam War.

I wasn't surprised by the vehicles and trucks the women drove or worked in. Even Queen Elizabeth II drove during the war. What did surprise me was they operated close to the front. The article online says, "In preparation for the invasion of Normandy, June, 1944, a 2-1/2-ton GMC truck was converted to a clubmobile, with the necessary kitchen containing doughnut machine, coffee urns and the like. Close to one hundred of them were made ready. Red Cross girls who had worked on the larger clubmobile in Great Britain, were given driving instruction in order to manage the truck clubmobile." 

"Beginning in July, 1944, as soon after the invasion that it was safe to send Red Cross personnel onto the Continent, ten groups of 32 Red Cross girls each, along with eight clubmobiles per group, a cinemobile, three supply trucks, trailers and three British Hillman trucks, were sent to France to be attached to various US Army Corps."

Read the entire article. It's fascinating, and it's interesting to see the photos of some of the women. You might be tired of World War II novels, but the story behind this one is one I never knew.

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The Beantown Girls by Jane Healey. Lake Union Publishing, 2019. 366p.


If you don't get this at your library, at the moment it's free through Amazon if you have Kindle Unlimited.

11 comments:

Deb said...

Thank you for the book recommendation. This has always fascinated me and I think the women were so very brave.

Lesa said...

I wasn't at all familiar with the Red Cross Clubmobile girls, Deb. I found the true story fascinating.

SandyG265 said...

I’ve never heard of the Clubmobile girls.

Lesa said...

I hadn't either, Sandy. My best friend wants to be one of the donut dollies, though.

Kaye Barley said...

Love this! And reading it right now!! I'm one who is gobbling up all these wonderful books about pre-WWII and WWII. Especially those dealing with the women. And I have learned an amazing number of things that I did not learn in school. This one, for sure, has fascinating information I did not know!

Lesa said...

I can't wait to read it, Kaye. Isn't it great to see so many books that deal with the women? I love it.

Karen r said...

This is wonderful Lesa! Thank you!

Lesa said...

Thank you, Karen!

Eileen Godfrey said...

A few years ago I read a wonderful non-fiction group written by one of the Clubmobile ladies. It is Dearest Ones by Rosemary Norwalk. It’s mostly a collection of her letters to her family and diary entries. Really terrific, these ladies did so much to help the morale of the soldiers and sailors all the while often in quite dangerous areas. Highly recommended.

SallyM said...

I just received an email from Amazon and learned that The Beantown Girls is available FREE (Kindle version) if you have Amazon Prime. I've downloaded and look forward to reading it.

Lesa said...

I guess that's what surprised me, Eileen, when I read about the Clubmobiles. I didn't realize they were all so close to the front. Fascinating.

Sally, I hope you tell us what you thought when you read The Beantown Girls.