Beantown Girls, by Jane Healy, is a historical fiction novel that follows three women who embark on a journey to aid in the war efforts in Europe during World War II as Red Cross Clubmobile girls. Fiona Denning had her entire future planned out before the war. But when her fiancé, Danny, is reported missing after being shot down in Germany, Fiona’s long-held plans are shattered. Determined to learn Danny’s fate, Fiona volunteers to go overseas as a Red Cross Clubmobile girl, recruiting her two best friends to come along. Viviana, who is outspoken and sassy, is more than happy to quit her secretarial job for the possibility of adventure. Dottie, whose musical talents are sure to be an asset to lifting spirits overseas, joins the group despite being shy and soft spoken.
Once in the middle of the war, the trio must rely upon each other and their varying strengths to prove themselves worthy of being Clubmobile girls. As the three friends begin to understand the real reasons they all came to the front, their courage and camaraderie will see them through some of the best and worst times of their lives. This unique journey brings new relationships, both friendships and romances, unforeseen dangers, and unexpected plans for the future. Their story is one of love, courage, and perseverance in the face of danger as World War II unfolds in front of them. Face to face with a world they never could have imagined, these heroines take on the front lines and prove themselves stronger than anyone, included themselves, expected.
Though Beantown Girls is a work of fiction including lighter concepts like friendships and romance, there are historical accuracies throughout the novel that bring chills when read. The thousands of lives lost in combat, the remains of bombed homes and villages, and the fact that anything can change in an instant are all pieces of the devastations experienced in the war that most people do not consider. Healy eloquently and gracefully reminds readers that so many made sacrifices, even giving their lives, for freedom and peace. Healy flawlessly portrays the heartbreaking devastation in conjunction with the beauty of hope, creating the perfect balance of both sorrow and joy. Though this story is one of perseverance and strength in the most difficult of times, it also incorporates romance, providing light in the darkness of war.
I quickly became invested in Fiona’s search for her fiancé, Danny who went missing during the war – which was her motivation for enlisting as a Red Cross girl. Not only was I invested in the main characterstories, but I became emotionally invested in each character’s lives and journeys, regardless of the size of their role in the novel. All of their stories were intricately connected, reminding readers that connection and friendship are one of the most important things, especially in times of war. The dialogue in Beantown Girls is one of the best features of the book. Healy has a way of creating dialogue between characters that sets a perfect picture to the people, places, and event in the story. She creates characters that are easy to imagine in one’s mind, no matter how small a role the character may play in the book.
Beantown Girls has well-developed characters and descriptive scenes that make this the perfect historical fiction novel.
Not only are the characters well-developed, but the scenes are vivid and descriptive. Healy describes scenes of war that many could not begin to imagine, making the trio’s journey very real in the reader’s mind. The novel is well-developed and provides readers with enough detail to be able to connect to multiple characters without feeling confused or overwhelmed with the narrative. When I read I prefer a physical book in my hand, not only is it more aesthetically pleasing but reading is my way to get a break from technology. However, though my copy of the book was an e-book, meaning it was only accessible on a device, once I started reading Beantown Girls it honestly didn’t matter what format I was reading it. The story instantly pulled me in and I forgot I was reading on my phone. Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this novel and am glad I had the opportunity to read it. I would recommend it to any historical fiction fan, and am personally adding it to my list of favorite historical fiction novels.
Book: Beantown Girls
Author: Jane Healy
Paperback: 344 pages
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing (February 5, 2019)
Purchasing information: $10.99 paperback & $3.99 Kindle