The Girl in the Pink Raincoat,
by Alrene Hughes
Publication: Head of Zeus; May 1, 2019
About the book:
In wartime, it takes courage to follow your heart.
Everyone hated the heat and the deafening noise, but for Gracie, the worst thing was the smell of chemicals that turned her stomach every morning when she arrived at the Rosenberg Raincoats factory.
Gracie is a girl on the factory floor. Jacob is the boss’s charismatic nephew. When they fall in love, it seems as if the whole world is against them – especially Charlie Nuttall, who also works at the factory and has always wanted Gracie for himself.
But worse is to come when Jacob disappears and Gracie is devastated, vowing to find him. Can she solve the mystery of his whereabouts? Gracie will need all her strength and courage to find a happy ending.
Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Alrene Hughes’ The Girl in the Pink Raincoat! Set at the start of World War II, this novel is about a young woman Gracie, employed at Rosenberg Raincoat Factory. Despite her mother Sarah’s warnings, Gracie falls for Jacob Rosenberg, the nephew of the factory owner, and they start planning a life together. However, Jacob suddenly disappears as things start to change and fall apart in Gracie’s heart, her home, and in Manchester.
I honestly don’t know why I don’t read more historical fiction, because it seems that whenever I do, I absolutely love it! It took me a while to get started on this one and I wasn’t sure how I would feel about it, but as soon as the book started and I caught a glimpse of the beautiful and spunky Gracie, I was hooked. The first third or so of the novel focuses on Gracie’s life living with her mother, her friendship with Maria, and the blossoming attraction between her and Jacob, then leading into the declaration of war and the many changes in her life after that.
I hope this does not offend anyone, but I struggled to connect with and like Jacob. Something made me wonder about his reliability and honesty regarding Gracie, which is explained as the novel goes on. Along with that, I found myself worried and frustrated at and for Gracie at times, thinking that she was blowing their feelings for one another out of proportion. Eventually, I got the answers I needed to the questions I had about Jacob, making this novel even more heartbreaking than it already was.
I loved Gracie’s mother as much as I loved Gracie herself. Sarah had been raising Gracie alone since her husband David died and was employed at a hotel as a housekeeper and sometimes, a waitress. It doesn’t take long to realize that Sarah was holding on to painful memories from her younger days, and I loved watching her character start to transform as Martin was introduced into the story.
Alan turned out to be an enormous surprise to me, as I adored him from the beginning. I was impressed with Hughes’ character development overall, but Alan is one of the characters from this novel that truly highlight her characterization skills. There were so many unexpected layers to him, just as with Sarah and Martin, and the writing of these characters blew me away.
And of course, there is Sam. Ahhh, Sam, where can I find one of you? I loved Sam and adored the friendship that he and Gracie built. He allowed her to be her true self and shine, as well as, became someone that she could trust when she didn’t feel she had anyone left.
Haven’t said much about the plot, have I? Well, that’s because I’m not sure how to do it without spoilers. However, I can say that this is a beautiful and powerful novel not only about a young woman and a first love, but about the impact of war, the hurt of secrets, and the wonder of chasing one’s true dreams. The Girl in the Pink Raincoat will stay happily in my mind for quite some time. This novel exceeded all expectations, surprised me, and had my emotions all over the place. I think my favorite part was the ending, which means you’ll have to read the book to figure out what that means! An outstanding novel that I highly recommend!
*Thanks so much to Head of Zeus and the author for providing this copy in exchange for my honest review!
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About the author:
Alrene Hughes grew up in Belfast and has lived in Manchester for most of her adult life. She worked for British Telecom and the BBC before training as an English teacher. After teaching for twenty years, she retired and now writes full-time.
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