About the book, A New Year for the Seaside Girls
- Publisher: Boldwood Books (April 14, 2023)
- Language: English
- Paperback: 304 pages
- Series: The Seaside Girls (Book 3 of 3)
Can the Seaside Girls embrace the new year with courage…
Cleethorpes – 1940
As the new year dawns the show at the Empire comes to an end and it’s time for the girls to move on.
Years of struggle are over for Frances O’ Leary when Johnny Randolph returns to make things right for her and their daughter – do they have a chance of happiness? of being a family after so long?
But their good fortune is fraught with complications when sister Ruby Randolph decides to have her last hurrah, leaving a trail of devastation in her wake.
Jessie Delaney is afraid to follow her dreams and leave those she loves behind – can she really have it all?
All the seaside girls have their own battles to fight. And while they figure things out it’s time for them to do their bit for the war and keep Britain smiling.
A gritty and heart-warming saga perfect for readers of Elaine Everest, Nancy Revell and Pam Howes.
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About the author, Tracy Baines
Tracy Baines is the bestselling saga writer of The Variety Girls series, originally published by Ebury, which Boldwood will continue with. She was born and brought up in Cleethorpes and spent her early years in the theatre world which inspired her writing. The first title of her new saga series for Boldwood – set amongst the fisherfolk of Grimsby – was published in October 2022.
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I’m late to the party on the Seaside Girls trilogy, so before I say anything else, please know: while reading the first two books would likely be helpful, A New Year for the Seaside Girls works just fine as a stand-alone novel. There was enough backstory, both explicit and in context, that the continuing elements were easy to follow, the the events specific to this novel were interesting and well written.
As a former theater kid, I always love stories that are set backstage and in the wings of performance spaces, and this novel is a perfect example of that. Set in 1940, against the early days of World War II, this book looks at what happens to working performers when theaters go dark, but bills still have to be paid, and life must continue. While this is, at heart, a family story with a hearty splash of romance, author Tracy Baines did not shy away from the gritty reality that comes with the theatrical life. Sometimes, accommodations can be sketchy. Sometimes gigs can be slightly unsavory. This book doesn’t soft-pedal those things, but it also isn’t a tragedy, and it does soften the edges somewhat to serve the story.
Frances, former lover of Johnny (and mother of his unknown-to-him child) and Ruby, Johnny’s sister and stage-partner, are the real stars of this novel, and it is their stories we follow. Both women are strong, capable, and determined, but they handle challenges in different ways. Where Frances builds a network of other performers, including a dancer who took care of her daughter for a long while, Ruby is the type to retreat. She comes out of her emotional hibernation when necessary, but her first reaction is to shield herself, and there is nothing wrong with that. What I liked about both characters is that they are loving and giving, each in her way, and they are never pitted as adversaries, just different personalities with different needs.
Johnny is the male lead, and he’s forced to be “the man” of both the performing family he has with his sister, and their parents (who are off-stage in many ways) and of the family he has formed and is rediscovering with Frances. What I liked about him was that he didn’t rush into his lover’s life and dictate changes. Instead, he supported her choices, even when his own desires were delayed.
Author Baines handles all the characters deftly, letting us see what teach is thinking and feeling while balancing plot and exposition.
Overall, this novel is a satisfying conclusion to a series that was clearly written with both love and expertise. It’s an historical family saga that mixes drama, romance, filial love, and “that business we call show,” into a meaty, satisfying story that should entertain any reader.
Goes well with: hot chocolate spiked with a splash of rum.