I was really pleased to be part of this tour. I absolutely loved The Girls From See Saw Lane and Counting Chimneys so couldn ‘t wait to see how the Brighton Series came to a conclusion.
Sandy Taylor’s first two books were emotional rollercoasters and When We Danced at the End of the Pier is yet another. On this occasion we have a prequel – it’s Dottie’s mother Maureen’s story and it is every bit as heart-breaking as her daughter’s.
Sandy takes us through her childhood years, growing up with her younger sister Brenda. Her mother cleans well to do peoples’ houses. Her father, emotionally damaged by his experiences in the First World War – what today we would call post traumatic stress disorder – stays at home to look after his daughters and cook. Despite his relapses he adores his two daughters and gives them a warm, loving environment. However this does not stop him being labelled a work shirker by the girls’ unpleasant Uncle Fred and Aunt Vera.
When the family is moved from Carlton Hill to a new home in See Saw Lane, Maureen meets next door neighbour Jack. Although she is only eight years old at the time she instinctively knows they will always be together.
The story follows Maureen and Brenda’s lives and their relationship with Jack and Nelson as they grow from children into young adults. It’s a time of simple pleasures, of make do and mend and a great feel of community. There are so many changes to come for these four characters, not all of them good. What does shine through is their resilience and ability to accept situations and make the best of them, no matter how difficult. The two characters that particularly impacted on me were poor fatherless Nelson and the girls shell-shocked father. Having said that, the rest of the cast are a brilliant weave of personalities – some to empathise with and some to thoroughly dislike. Sandy has a great gift for storytelling and I’m very much looking forward to what she has next in store for us readers.
A beautiful read that stayed with me long after I’d reached the last page and a fitting finale to the Brighton Trilogy.