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The Sugar Girls - Ethel's Story: Tales of Hardship, Love and Happiness in Tate & Lyle's East End [Kindle Edition]

Duncan Barrett , Nuala Calvi
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (108 customer reviews)

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Book Description

During the Blitz, the Sugar Girls kept Britain sweet. The work was back-breakingly hard, but the Tate & Lyle factory was more than just a workplace - it was a community, a calling, a place of love and support and an uproarious, tribal part of East London. This is Ethel’s story, one of four stories from The Sugar Girls.

‘On an autumn day in 1944, Ethel Alleyne walked the short distance from her house to Tate & Lyle’s refinery on the shining curve of the Thames. Looking up at the giant gates, Ethel felt like she had been preparing for this moment all her life. She smoothed down her frizzy hair, scraped a bit of dirt off the corner of her shoe and strode through.

She was quite unprepared for the sight that met her eyes …’

In the years leading up to and after the Second World War thousands of women left school at fourteen to work in the bustling factories of London’s East End. Despite long hours, hard and often hazardous work, factory life afforded exciting opportunities for independence, friendship and romance. Of all the factories that lined the docks, it was at Tate and Lyle’s where you could earn the most generous wages and enjoy the best social life, and it was here where The Sugar Girls worked.

This is an evocative, moving story of hunger, hardship and happiness, providing a moving insight into a lost way of life, as well as a timeless testament to the experience of being young and female.


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Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 4382 KB
  • Print Length: 98 pages
  • Publisher: Harper; ePub ed edition (29 Mar. 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B007B5IL5I
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • : Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (108 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #50,378 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great insight into East London life 22 April 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
With this book I felt I was really with Ethel in her ups and downs of life in the sugar factory. Life was hard, but the sense of achievement and stickability shines through. The life in a factory in, relatively, recent times was so class structured it saddened me. But great to read that Ethel is still alive! She's a true East End character. Thanks for a great book.
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5.0 out of 5 stars a day in the life of ethel 17 Jun. 2012
By mur
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
The story starts when Ethel gets a new job, its on the shop floor in a sugar factory with prospects,for those who were keen to progress,but had to work hard and dedicate themselves.
At first it wasn't quite what she envisaged herself doing but after a lot of hard work it became more than just a job it was a calling. There were rules to work by and woe betide you if you disobeyed them. Hard work was rewarded and soon Ethel was on the management team. However if she didn't toe the line she was demoted and sent back to the factory floor, this happened on at least one occasion. It was hard to go back to taking orders when you were used to giving them.
Time went by and ethel regained her status upstairs and worked very hard,she gained lots of good friends from the factory floor and management.
Later on she was fortunate to meet a lovely man to whom she married,she carried on working hard, then left to have a family after a year or two she thought it would help the family budjet if she went back to work and didn't think they would take her on at the factory,but they did and in her old job too. It just showed that hard work pays off especially if you are prepared to give more than you take.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars memories 3 April 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I was born in the East End of London, where the story is set, in 1948 and this book has given me a picture of how life was back then.

From the very first pages I felt that I knew Ethel and the other girls in the book. Their stories are realistically told and I want to read about the rest of the 'Sugar Girls' now to find out how their lives differed and to be a part of that era again.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Sugar Girls - Ethel's Story 29 April 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Found this a really interesting book to read. Not only is it about fairly modern history, but it brings to life the part of London it was presenting. As a born Londoner - although not still there - it was lovely to read. The lifestyle was entertaining and informative and reminded me of my younger years
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3.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable little book 21 May 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Interesting insight into the life of East Londoners in and around the time of the Second War War, told from one girl's perspective with interesting historical information surrounding Silver Town, in particular the work at Tate and Lyle Sugar Refineries. From the point of view of history interest I really enjoyed it.

The author obviously carried out much research to bring this story together, although it is not a literary masterpiece, but then it surely was not meant to be and not all good books necessarily need to be. just It has been written to tell a story and which it manages to do well. One of a series, I have not yet read the others but may well do in the future.

Personally, I prefer books with a little more substance, but as I say - it is what it was intended to be and good for a quick and easy read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By HMV
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This was such a interesting read that I had job to put it down.I would like get some more, but if they are all good as that I will never do any think but read as it was such a gripping story.
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1.0 out of 5 stars Not what I expected 8 Nov. 2012
By jennyk
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I must admit this book was not what I expected. I was looking forward to a romantic novel based around the lives of the girls who worked in the sugar factory (rather like 'The Chocolate Girls' at Cadbury's). I found it to be more about the history of Tate and Lyle through the life of one girl, Ethal, and although you learnt a little about her life it was very little. I had trouble remembering who her husband was he was mentioned so little. On the whole I was very disappointed and glad that I had paid 'Kindle price' rather than paperback price.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Sugar Girls - Ethels story 3 May 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
After downloading the first book, and enjoying it. I quickly down loaded the following 3. These books were very interesting,and to read about the capers that these girls got up to at Tate & Lyle Factory was very entertaining. It was nice to read about the friendships built up over the years at the factory, through happy times and sad times, they stuck together. Each knowing that they could depend on another. This is what is missing in todays society.
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