Book #42

The Rose Queen by Katie Flynn

It's 1938, and Cadi is chosen to be Rose Queen in the annual Rose Fete. She is thrilled to be treated like royalty for the day. But deep down she is desperate to leave the Welsh mining community where she grew up.
When war is declared, Cadi and her best friend Poppy see a chance to escape. Cadi leaves behind her parents and local boy Aled, whom she is meant to marry, for Liverpool.
But city life doesn't bring the opportunities they'd hoped for. Unable to join the forces, the girls are left looking for work in poverty-stricken Vauxhall Ward.
They secure jobs in a local pub, and Cadi's blossoming relationship with a handsome dock worker deepens after he rescues her from a terrifying encounter.
But when Aled unexpectedly appears dressed in RAF uniform Cadi finds her worlds colliding again. Now the Rose Queen must decide: who will become her King?

I love historical fiction for what it can teach me about social custom, landmark events, and how we lived without the luxuries we have today. For a novel dealing with WWII themes, this is an incredibly soft account. I knew getting into it that it would be a wholesome and whimsical tale of two girls leaving home to help the war effort, and I wasn’t looking for grit and desolation, however some of Flynn’s descriptions were truly lacking.

Having said that, once I had reset my brain to understand this was more of a sentimental piece focusing on love and friendship, I began to enjoy myself. Flynn looks at the joys of leaving home to discover yourself, and the relinquishment of the protection and comfort of a family bubble.

There’s a certain charm here, and it was nice to see historical fiction set in a northern city - I am quite sick of London, so the sights of Liverpool were very welcome. 

A lighthearted exploration of love, friendship, and the importance of community.