Sep 14

The Waterway Girls by Milly Adams

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I’m always delighted when the latest novel from Milly Adams arrives on my desk and happy to say her latest, The Waterway Girls, did not disappoint. More than that, I discovered that this is the start of a series which follows the unsung heroes who spent the war on the canals.

It is October, 1943 and nineteen year-old Polly Holmes is leaving bombed out London to join the war effort on Britain’s canals.

She boards the Marigold in the pouring rain and soon discovers she has plenty to contend with. Not least her fellow crew: strong and impetuous Verity, and seasoned skipper Bet.

With Polly’s sweetheart away fighting in the RAF and her beloved brother killed in action, there is plenty of heartache to be healed on the waterway. And as Polly rolls up her sleeves and gets stuck into life on board the narrowboat she discovers new beginnings await amid the anguish of war.

What can I say? I was soon absorbed in life on the canal and the journey from London to Birmingham. Adams draws her characters so finely that I half expect to bump into them when I pop to the shops. Life on the canals was tough and relentless and the descriptions of how the canals and locks operated is described in such a way that gives the reader a glimpse into the life of the boaters, without being over technical and slowing the story down. But there is beauty there too, and we are able to see this through Polly’s eyes as she settles to the rhythm of the waterways.

There is such warmth and humanity in the writing  that it makes the characters and the setting leap from the page. Among the pages you’ll find romance, humour and ordinary people doing their best to survive and get along in extraordinary circumstances.

I’m so relieved that this isn’t the last we have heard of the Waterway Girls. I can’t wait to discover what lies ahead for Polly, Verity and Bet.


The Waterway Girls by Milly Adams is published by Arrow.

Price £5.99