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Wonder Girls by [Jones, Catherine]
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Wonder Girls Kindle Edition

4.4 out of 5 stars 18 customer reviews

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Length: 417 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
Page Flip: Enabled

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Product Description

Review

'An imaginative tour de force, moving and well-written and the characters are superb' --Wendy Holden, Daily Mail

'Sparkling ... deceptively light ... Jones's warmth and deft characterisation shine out' --Catherine Taylor, Guardian

'Even if you have everything then something might still be missing… A beautiful tale about friendship' --Book Girl of Mur-y-Castell

Review

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Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 852 KB
  • Print Length: 417 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK (7 Jun. 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B007IL5CDY
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars 18 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #183,778 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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4.4 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
'You never know, it might be the start of something,' Ida said. 'Showing people what we can do instead of being told what we can't.'

It is 1937, and this novel opens with an episode during which we meet fourteen-year-old Cecily Stirling cleaning up in a maternity hospital in London, when she is asked by Sister to take a baby out of the hospital. We then meet Cecily again, in 2009, right at the other end of her life, as she makes a new friend, Sarah, and slowly makes new discoveries about the past. Then we are taken back in time to 1928, when change is in the air, and it is there that we begin to learn the story of Ida Gaze and her best friend and constant companion Freda Voyle.

Fifteen-year-old Ida is a strong swimmer, whom we meet waiting by the pool at the start of the 1928 Annual Gala in the small Welsh seaside town that is her home. The setting is beautifully and lovingly evoked so that the reader can picture the scene in their mind: 'the lido was a spectacle in itself. With its curved white walls and blue ralings, it was as handsome as a grand ocean liner docked for good on the headland...it was the largest, bluest pool in Wales with the sky stretching forever as its ceiling. It took your breath away, it really did.'

With Freda's great encouragement and support, and inspired by Amelia Earhart's recent feat crossing the Atlantic in the air and landing in the sea off Wales, Ida declares she is going to be the first person to swim the Bristol Channel, despite a large amount of skepticism from the people of the town, in particular because she is a woman. She will swim through 'the dangerous grey waters which separated Wales from England.
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Format: Hardcover
I really wanted to like this book....I loved the cover of the two young women wearing bathing suits from the 1920's and I thought the story would be more about them and their swimming lives....but it wasn't and I was so disappointed about that.

It started well ..... with 14 year old Cecily who was working as a cleaner at a rich private clinic in London in 1937. One cold evening the Sister asks her to take away from the clinic the baby of a very poorly mother. But we don't know why and this leaves us with a cliffhanger until near the end.

The story then moves to the present when Cecily, now an old lady, is living on her own after her 'companion' Freda had died. Whilst looking through Freda's effects she finds an old photo of a young girl in a bathing costume and this sets her on a quest to discover who this girl was and what happened to her.

The book moves back and forth in time from the present to 1928 to a time when a 16 yr old girl called Ida Gaze (the 'Wonder Girl') becomes the first woman to swim the Bristol Channel - 11 miles of treacherous water between Wales and England. 'Nobody thought a woman would cross the Atlantic and Amelia Earhart did - so why shouldn't I cross the water to another country?'

I was really enjoying this part of the story as I found it fascinating but shortly after when Ida and her friend Freda decide to go to London to start a new life my interest waned quite a lot. I found it a little boring and I struggled to keep going....but I did and it did get slightly better as the secrets are slowly revealed.

The only character I warmed to was Cecily, I didn't like Freda at all and I couldn't understand why so many women fell for her, she was an oddball, selfish and she didn't care who's feelings she hurt with her nasty remarks.

So, it was not really my kind of book overall.
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Format: Hardcover
The book follows a chain of female relationships from 1928 to the present day.

Ida and Freda
Freda and Enid
Freda and Ceci and their parenting of Nancy
And finally, Ceci's developing friendship in later life with Sarah, a young woman who gradually coaxes her life's secrets from her.

These women achieve things in unpromising circumstances. Ida swims the Bristol Channel and becomes a successful reporter, moving on to work in advertising; the less glamorous Freda takes up nursing and forges a meaningful career. Ceci emerges from the poorest of backgrounds but manages to educate and make something of herself.

Living in a community and a period where emotions and sexuality are repressed, the women know what they feel for each other but don't have a context to put it in or the vocabulary to talk about it. They are brave enough to flout convention and live their own lives but mostly things remain unsaid and the joy and love of life they had as young women seems to ebb away. Ceci patiently devotes herself to a woman who is volatile, uncommunicative and acerbic, occasionally showing flashes of the amazing woman that she is and was. Relationships falter and break down. Bitterness and misunderstandings last for years. Pollyanna it isn't. I am not generally a fan of therapy but a trip to a psychologist might be recommended for some of these characters. Of course they would sit out the session with pursed lips. Miscommunication, silence, sulks and the occasional tantrum underpin Ceci and Freda's love affair. Misery and quiet desperation are Catherine Jones's forte.

The early sections of the book are full of excitement and energy and the end is very touching but I felt it became a little laborious in parts.
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