BlackPool’s Daughter by Maggie Mason

A Review by Malika Gandhi

This delightful book was a great read with real characters and a plot line with a rich but frightening setting of the effects of World War 2, gang dealings, pimping and forced prostitution. Blackpool’s Daughter is the story of mother and daughter, Julia and Clara. With the imminent threat of the Nazis invading Guernsey, Clara is sent to England as an evacuee.

Clara was born out of wedlock. For this reason Julia was ill-treated by the people of her island, Guernsey. It wasn’t easy to live among such hate and insults but Guernsey was their home, and they learnt to ignore the people as best as they could.

It was when Minnie (Julia’s very good friend and would-have-been-mother in law) gifted her a lump sum of money to help her to board a boat to England, that Julia was able to look forward to finding her daughter, Clara.

Would this be a new beginning for Julia and Clara? In some ways yes but their new life wasn’t as easy as they had hoped. The fact that they were apart from each other didn’t make it easy, but both hoped to find one another again soon.

In the events that follow, we see Clara taken to Blackpool and arranged to live under the care of hateful and cruel shopkeeper, Miss Brandon. One of the things Clara never imagined happening to her was to be tied and locked in a claustrophobic storeroom in the back yard by this woman. When she managed to escape with the help of her friend, little did she know she was heading for the worst place ever. Clara’s life spirals when she is forced into a situation controlled by a gang leader, Micky.

Julia’s ‘mistakes’ seem to follow her as she becomes pregnant again. Her past repeats on her when villagers talk about her involvement with a married man. And now Julia has to leave the village. When her fiance, Gareth is drafted, pregnant Julia has no money and is demanded she leave her rented accommodation. Julia has no choice but to seek refuge at a convent

Within the development of the characters. we meet additional characters. Some we can’t help but fall in love with and some we just want to get rid of.

As the novel progresses, we see scraps of happiness entwined with fear and hope in Julia and Clara’s situation. The pace of the story is just right and the author gives us just enough surprises to keep us turning the page.

One of the themes we regularly visit is Death. Here, the author portray death in many ways – in love, in loss, and in betrayal. One particular character was taken away too early.

Blackpool city is portrayed beautifully and we feel, see, smell and taste the sights, the air, the food, and the ambiance. One memorial scene is when Clara describes the sea and the sights to her boyfriend, Anton, who is blind. The author has a way to transport you to Blackpool that makes you want to be there.

The story is told in the backdrop of WW2 and even though we get glimpses of the war and the devastation it caused to cities and the people, Blackpool’s Daughter focuses on the lives of Julie and Clara.

With colourful characters, a story line that will keep you hooked, brilliant plot twists, I highly recommend Blackpool’s Daughter.

Maggie Mason is a pseudonym of author Mary Wood. Mary began her career by self-publishing on kindle where many of her sagas reached number one in genre. She was spotted by Pan Macmillan and to date has written many books for them under her own name, with more to come. Mary continues to be proud to write for Pan Macmillan, but is now equally proud and thrilled to take up a second career with Sphere under the name of Maggie Mason. A Blackpool Lass is her first in a planned series of standalone books and trilogies set in her home town of Blackpool.

Mary retired from working for the National Probation Service in 2009, when she took up full time writing, something she’d always dreamed of doing. She follows in the footsteps of her great-grandmother, Dora Langlois, who was an acclaimed author, playwright and actress in the late nineteenth – early twentieth century.

It was her work with the Probation Service that gives Mary’s writing its grittiness, her need to tell it how it is, which takes her readers on an emotional journey to the heart of issues.