The Surplus Girls by Polly Heron


The Surplus Girls

 Polly Heron

The first in a magnificent trio of sagas set during the early 1920s, following three Surplus Girls – those women whose dreams of marriage perished in the Great War, after the deaths of millions of young men, and the new lives they forged for themselves.

Manchester, 1922. Belinda Layton is a surplus girl. One of the many women whose dreams of marriage perished in the Great War, with the death of her beloved fiancé, Ben. After four years of mourning, she’s ready to face the future, even though Ben’s family is not happy to see her move on, and her own only cares about getting hold of her meagre factory wages.

Then, Belinda joins a secretarial class and a whole new world opens up to her as she quickly finds herself drawn to beguiling bookshop owner Richard Carson. But after all the loss and devastation she has experienced, can she really trust him with her heart?


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My Thoughts

Set in Manchester, 1922 The Surplus Girls features Belinda Layton who sadly lost her fiance Ben during the war. She lives with Ben’s mother and grandmother but still financially supports her parents and siblings who live close by. She works long hours in a mill and longs to improve her situation by changing her career to an office worker. First, she must study and start right at the bottom but she has the foresight to see that long term her circumstances would greatly improve.

Belinda is a ‘Surplus Girl’ a term given to women who lost partners in the war. With millions of men losing their lives, there was a surplus of young women who had to support themselves. In the lower social classes any woman wanting to ‘better herself’ was frowned upon. Bereaved women felt obliged to remain in mourning attire and were discouraged from moving on with their lives out of respect for their loved ones.

Polly Heron demonstrates the plight of these women and how difficult it was for them to restart their lives after bereavement. Belinda is a likeable, hard-working girl and you just want things to turn out well for her. I loved her ambition and dedication to educate herself and secure a career to give her independence.

All the characters are multidimensional and the story features different social classes which added interest to the plot. This is an informative and heartwarming read featuring women who show great courage against adversity.

The Surplus Girls is highly recommended for lovers of historical family saga’s set around wartime Britain. It is the first book of a trilogy and I am really looking forward to the next installment in the series.



Polly Heron lives on the beautiful North Wales coast with her husband and their two rescue cats. She is originally from Chorlton-cum-Hardy in Manchester, where her family has lived for several generations and which provides the setting for her family sagas.

The Surplus Girls series focuses on the young women whose lives were changed for ever by the Great War. The huge loss of life among the soldiers meant that many girls lost potential husbands and a generation of young women found themselves in the position of having, without the necessary training or education, to face a future of fending for themselves.

Polly Heron also writes as Susanna Bavin.

I was kindly sent the book by Corvus Books, my review is honest and unbiased.

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