Book review: Liverpool Angels by Lyn Andrews

One of the North West’s most popular storytellers returns with a gritty, gripping tale of love, loss and war.

By Pam Norfolk
Tuesday, 25th February 2014, 9:00 am
Liverpool Angels by Lyn Andrews
Liverpool Angels by Lyn Andrews

With 34 enchanting novels to her name, Lyn Andrews is the undisputed queen of the Merseyside saga. Her warm and compelling stories featuring the struggles and hardships faced by working class communities over the last century have made her one of the UK’s best-selling authors.

Liverpool Angels sweeps us away to the bloody and brutal maelstrom of the Great War as two young cousins, eager to do their bit, enrol as volunteer nurses and learn the harsh realities of life and death on the Western front.

The girls’ journey from the back streets of Liverpool to the killing fields of France is an epic story told with Andrews’ innate compassion, keen eye and warm heart.

Born in the spring of 1898, little Mae Strickland was only a few days old when her mother died from childbed fever. Her devastated father John, a stoker on the steamships that sail in and out of Liverpool Docks, leaves her in the care of her Aunt Maggie while he is at sea.

Kind-hearted Maggie, who has been deserted by her feckless husband, raises Mae together with her own children, Eddie and Alice, and the girls become like sisters.

In spite of Mae’s unhappy start, life feels full of promise. John is ambitious for his only child and determined that she will take a shorthand and typing course rather than finding demeaning work in shops or factories.

But, as the First World War looms, everything changes. While the local men, including Eddie and his circle of friends, leave to fight, Mae and Alice decide to train as field nurses.

As they cross the Channel to the front line in the wake of a devastating family tragedy, nothing can prepare them for what lies ahead… long hours, Spartan conditions and men suffering from the effects of terrible wounds and chronic illness.

Yet there is solace to be found amidst the wreckage of war and for both young women, romance is on the horizon. But it will take great courage for Mae and Alice to follow their hearts… and there is no certainty that love will win out in the end.

Liverpool Angels is a poignant and fast-paced adventure woven around the tight-knit Merseyside communities which are the lifeblood of Andrews’ earthy, passionate books.

Blending romance and drama, hardship and happiness, family and foe, this is a vivid wartime saga written with all the charm, spirit and passion of a born storyteller.

(Headline, hardback, £14.99)