The Girls from See Saw Lane is one of these books that seems like a deceptively simple story but before you know it you are hooked and caught up in the characters’ lives. I so enjoyed reading about Dottie and Mary’s friendship from when they were little girls living in See Saw Lane, Brighton and following its ups and downs throughout the book. The story tells of the girls’ friendship growing up in Brighton, follows them through school, onto working life in Woolworths and looks at their developing relationships with boys. I can’t say a lot about the plot without giving much away but I am sure that there is a lot in this book that will make you smile, laugh, reminisce and perhaps even cry a little. I didn’t cry at this book but I think that was because so many people had said how emotional it had made them and so I was prepared!
What I really enjoyed about the book was the feeling of nostalgia I found myself experiencing. Although Dottie and Mary were growing up in the 1960s and I was born in the 1970s so much of growing up and being with your friends doesn’t change. I was transported back to my own childhood when I read of the girls hanging upside down off climbing frames. I’m almost certain you can’t even get those kind of climbing frames now but we all did that and it was such fun. Goodness knows why! Reading of them going to record shops and listening to the music before they bought it brought back memories to me. There used to be quite a few independent record shops near me and I can remember going to buy my first single (Bright Eyes by Art Garfunkel) and also a little later being very daring going to buy the banned Relax by Frankie Goes to Hollywood. (Disappointingly it came in a plain record sleeve as it had become so popular after being banned that they couldn’t print record sleeves quickly enough to keep up with demand!). I also vividly remember, like Dottie and Mary, that first awareness of boys, trying to see who might like you and playing it cool around the ones you were interested in.
The girls’ friendship is the main theme of the book and I felt that Sandy Taylor has portrayed so well the intensity of female friendship formed at a young age. The girls do everything together in and out of school and even work in the same place after school (I still miss Woolworths!). Cracks start to appear in their relationship when they begin relationships with Ralph and Elton and a betrayal creates a huge rift between them. But ultimately their shared experiences throughout the years bring the girls back together again when they need each other the most. I thought that the author really captured the voices of the girls at the different ages. When they were young girls they spoke and thought like giggly young girls but their voices matured as they grew older and became young women.
I know this is the first in a trilogy and not sure what direction the storyline will take but I’m definitely looking forward to reading the next book when it is published next year. Sandy Taylor obviously has a knack for creating fully believable characters (I must just mention Dottie’s mum here too who was a wise and kind woman) and she captures emotions so well that you can really identify with her characters. An absorbing and charming read.
My thanks to publishers Bookouture for providing a copy of the book via Netgalley for me to read and review. The Girls from See Saw Lane was published as an e-book and in paperback last week. At the time of writing, the email was available for only 99p. You can order a copy here: The Girls from See Saw Lane
The Girls from See Saw Lane
Brighton 1963. Mary Pickles and I walked along the street with our arms linked, looking in shop windows. We were best friends and together we were invincible. Dottie and Mary forged a friendship over a bag of penny sweets when they were eight years old. They’ve shared everything together since then – the highs and lows of school, family dramas, hopes and dreams and now, at seventeen, they’re both shop girls, working at Woolworths. As they go out in the world in pursuit of love and happiness, the simplicity of their childhood dissolves as life becomes more complicated. The heady excitement of first love will consume them both, but the pain of unintentional betrayal will test their friendship in ways neither of them could ever imagine…