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28 May 2017

Review: 'When We Danced at the End of the Pier' by Sandy Taylor (2017)

Brighton 1930: Maureen O’Connell is a carefree girl, but her family is on the brink of tragedy, war is looming and life will never be the same again. 

Jack and Nelson have always been dear friends to Maureen. Despite their different backgrounds, they’ve seen each other through thick and thin. 

As Maureen blossoms from a little girl into a young woman, the candle she’s always held for Jack burns bright. But just as she’s found love, war wrenches them apart. The man she cherishes with all her heart is leaving. 

When the bombs start to fall, Maureen and her family find themselves living in the most dangerous of times. With Jack no longer by her side and Nelson at war, Maureen has never felt more alone. Can she look to a brighter future? And will she find the true happiness she’s dreamt of?

Last year I was introduced to author Sandy Taylor when I received a review copy of her novel 'The Girls from See Saw Lane', the first part of her Brighton Girls Trilogy. I really thoroughly enjoyed the novel (click here to read my review) and was already looking forward to the other instalments. I haven't been able to read the second part, 'Counting Chimneys', but I did manage to get a review copy of the third and final part, 'When We Danced at the End of the Pier', which was released by publisher Bookouture in March 2017. As soon as I saw the book on NetGalley I had to request a review copy, not just because I was curious to read more by Sandy Taylor, but I immediately fell in love with the gorgeous title and cover. I really love the title, especially; it's gorgeous and I really hoped the story inside would manage to match it...!

Set mainly in the 1930s, Maureen O'Connoll grows up in the city of Brighton. Her father takes care of her and her younger sister Brenda, while their mother goes to work to take care of her family. Luckily Maureen also has her good friends Jack, Nelson and Monica with whom she experiences all kinds of things. As they grow up, the friends go through a lot, but at the core of it all Maureen continues to believe in the love for Jack she has felt since she first laid eyes on him; the two of them are meant to be together, no matter what. But when the Second World War looms, the future is no longer certain for any of them; will Maureen and her family and friends make it out alive, and what exactly does the war and life in general have in store for them?

After reading 'When We Danced at the End of the Pier' I can say with certainty that author Sandy Taylor is definitely a born storyteller. Just like with the first instalment of her Brighton Girls Trilogy, 'The Girls from See Saw Lane', I was immediately intrigued by the characters in the novel and captivated by their story until the very end. Sandy Taylor really manages to find the right balance between dialogue and scene setting, and mastered the art of writing a truly compelling war time story that will make you both smile and perhaps even shed a tear here and there. Maureen, Jack, Nelson, Brenda, Monica... The book is filled with characters that all have something to add to the story, and I loved learning more about them and their lives.

Even though this novel is the third part of a trilogy, I do not think it is necessary to read all books before picking up this one; it can definitely be read as a stand-alone, in my opinion. As with most war time stories, the novel deals with quite a few serious and sad issues, but at the same time the author managed to add a layer of fun to the story, and she really combines the different factors and emotions in a convincing way. I'm definitely adding Sandy Taylor to my list of authors to watch, and if you love war time fiction and haven't checked out one of her novels yet, I urge you to do so. Overall, 'When We Danced at the End of the Pier' is a captivating and emotional war time story about friendship, family, love and how to get through difficult times together; a great read!
For more information about this book: / / Goodreads

Thanks to the publisher for providing me with a review copy in exchange for an honest review.

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