Belle of the Back Streets by Glenda Young
Today I am thrilled to be taking part in the Blog Tour for this fantastic new book. Many thanks to Anne Cater from Random Things Tours and the publisher for providing a copy which I have reviewed honestly.
‘Any rag and bone!’
Everyone recognises the cry of Meg Sutcliffe as she plies her trade along the back streets of Ryhope. She learnt the ropes from her dad when he returned from the War. But when tragedy struck, Meg had no choice but to continue alone, with only her trusty dog Spot and beloved horse Stella for company. Now the meagre money she earns is the only thing that stands between her family’s safety and predatory rent collector Hawk Jackson….
Many say it’s no job for a woman – especially a beauty like Meg who’s noticed everywhere she goes. When she catches the eye of charming Clarky it looks like she might have found a protector and a chance of
happiness. But is Clarky really what he seems? And could Adam, Meg’s loyal childhood friend, be the one
who really deserves her heart?
I would not have guessed that this was a debut novel in a million years! The main character Meg is so endearing but a strong woman with a great love for her family. The book is set in 1920, in Ryhope near Sunderland, a mining village near to the coast. The job of ‘Rag and Bones’ is a tough, labour intensive job which many women would run a mile from. However, Meg takes on the challenge and learns the ropes from her father so that she can continue the family business.
This book bought back childhood memories of the Rag and Bone Man who used to visit, sadly not with a horse and cart but always accompanied by a child and dog. The ‘Rag and Bone’ man fascinated me and slightly scared me if I’m honest. He was always wearing really tatty clothes and shouted something I couldn’t decipher, to alert people that he was around. It was only when my mum shouted him over to empty the shed, that I realised that under the dust and oil was a cheery and extremely polite chap.
I have to mention Spot the dog who adopted Belle and became her loyal, constant companion and whose sole aim in life was to keep her safe. Then there was the elderly horse Stella who had given the family years of devotion and hard labour. Without her, the business could not continue and Belle and her family did everything they could to take care of her.
The book is extremely well researched and cleverly plotted with a diverse set of characters. It really brings to life what it must have been like in a mining village back in the 1920s. I learned so much about the rag and bone trade, the true origin of the term ‘fish wife’ and the absolute hardship that extreme poverty can bring.
I can’t wait for the next installment from Glenda Young. I think this is a name we will become very familiar with and I highly recommend Belle of the Back Streets.
Glenda Young credits her local library in the village of Ryhope, where she grew up, for giving her a love of books.
She still lives close by in Sunderland and often gets her ideas for her stories on long bike rides along the coast.
A life-long fan of Coronation Street, she runs two fan websites for which she sometimes interviews the cast of the show.
For updates on what Glenda is working on, visit her website glendayoungbooks.com
and to find out more find her on Facebook/GlendaYoungAuthor and Twitter @flaming_nora.
Look out for Glenda’s next compelling saga, THE TUPPENNY CHILD
‘I really enjoyed Glenda’s novel. It’s well researched and well written and I found myself caring about her
‘All the ingredients for a perfect saga and I loved Meg; she’s such a strong and believable character. A fantastic
‘Glenda has an exceptionally keen eye for domestic detail which brings this local community to vivid, colourful
life and Meg is a likeable, loving heroine for whom the reader roots from start to finish’
‘I found it difficult to believe that this was a debut novel, as “brilliant” was the word in my mind when I
reached the end. I enjoyed it enormously, being totally absorbed from the first page. I found it extremely well
written, and having always loved sagas, one of the best I’ve read’