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4.2 out of 5 stars
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4.2 out of 5 stars
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on 15 April 2013
A cut above the usual run of "misery memoirs". Beautifully written, it paints a vivid, occasionally heart-breaking, but overall an uplifting picture of life and work for women in the pre- and post-war years. They were hard times and people were often desperately poor, but there was real sense of community where people never needed to lock their doors, neighbours looked out for each other and even strangers were greeted with kindness, not suspicion. It's a vanished world and we're poorer for it.

The Sweethearts
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on 1 May 2013
I was lucky to be in attendance at the launch of "The Sweethearts" at York St. John University in April, and had the pleasure of meeting the five women featured in the book. After having read their individual stories, and reflecting on the content of the book I find myself seeing the truth behind the tales.

I loved the book, and found myself getting lost within the stories. Reading "The Sweethearts" gave me a wonderful sense of familiarity with the history of York, and the people who have lived and worked in the city in the past 100 years. I would recommend this to anyone with an interest in true social history, as opposed to the David Starkey version of British History.

Whilst other reviews have taken note of the fact that much of "The Sweethearts" revolves around the history of Rowntrees, it cannot be argued that without the factory none of the five women within the book would have had the chance to tell their stories. Even now, the old factory in York, now Nestle instead of Rowntrees, dominates the city and more often than not the smell of chocolate fills the air. The factory and the people that worked within it's walls contributed to making York what it is today. Joseph Rowntree helped mould the city, and Lynn Russell and Neil Hanson have made just as much of a tribute to him in their work as they have to the five miraculous Sweethearts.
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on 15 April 2013
Unlike an earlier reviewer, I loved this book. The stories of five women are set against the era and the Rowntree's chocolate factory where they all worked, but the characters are always centre stage - and what characters they are. Madge is my favourite. She suffered hardships that today's generation would scarcely believe. The slum housing in which she spent her early married life did not even have lighting, let alone heating or plumbing - the only light sources were a gas mantle in one room and candles in the rest of the house - and her husband was a drunken, violent brute, but like the others, Madge showed the resilience and spirit to rise above all her troubles and the story of her happy later years brought a different sort of tears to my eyes.
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on 15 April 2013
I read this in one sitting. It's the story of five women who worked in the chocolate factory between the 1930s and the 1980s. Life was hard in those days. They left school as soon as they reached the minimum legal age, and there were no gap years for them; they left school on a Friday and started work on the Monday - and it was hard work at that. As a chocaholic myself, I'd have liked to know more about the actual process of making the chocolates, but that's a minor quibble about a really good read.
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on 15 April 2013
What a great book! I enjoyed it from beginning to end. A really touching insight into the lives of the girls and women who were the backbone of a household name. Life stories full of experiences, both in and out of the factory,which most of us can not begin to imagine, brought to us in such delightful prose. It's so difficult to choose a favourite, they each bring their own equally fascinating story. Meticulous research and skilful writing makes this a 'must read'. Enjoy
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on 21 July 2013
This is a really good story of life in the 1930's and work in The Rowntrees Factory in York. My only comment is they focus so much on describing the machinery of each department of Rowntrees each time a young girl starts there and not on their lives. Having said that if I ever go to York I will take this book with me so I can identify every street, every building, every area they have talked about. That would be fascinating. It would also make a tremendously interesting film.
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on 12 May 2013
Like a couple of other reviewers, I found this book very interesting and brought back memories for me of the sixties. I was a late 40's child, the sixties and the products available brought fond memories for me. I was never a lover of Black Magic, Dairy Box were always my favourite, but the stories of the women who worked at Rowntrees were thought provoking and brought to mind how hard life was then. I would recommend it to anyone interested in this style of book.
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on 22 July 2013
A light hearted, yet sometimes poignant reflection of a group of female workers from Rowntrees chocolate factory, York. A good insight into working patterns, home life and social events of the day, and the influence of a major company on the lives of several generations of families;
All conveyed in personal and reflectional tales of workers from the days before mechanised production was introduced.

A good read.
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on 20 May 2014
Fab book just a little disappointed not to have my grandad George Basil Marshall mentioned he was a `fitter`from world war 2 to late `60s. My Mother Kath Marshall was also a cream packing afternoon lady. I don't recall any of the names mentioned in the book. Never the less very enjoyable.
Anyone want to write about Cook scientific instrument factory where my Dad worked?I would love to read it!
Thank you for such an informative read.
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on 7 August 2013
Although I found this book in parts - interesting - I thought it would more in the way of telling the story of the private lives of the women who worked at the factory, as well as thier experience at the factory.
This was informative as to the daily workings inside the factory, but I must admit to sometimes getting a tad bored, and wished to hear more about the girls.
But if you are interested in chocolate production - this is for you.
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