Tuesday 28 October 2014

Public Battles, Private Wars by Laura Wilkinson

Yorkshire 1983. 
Miner's wife Mandy is stuck in a rut. At twenty-three, and trapped by domesticity, her future looks set and she wants more from life. 
Husband Rob is a good-looking drinker, content to spend his days in the small town where they've always lived - where Mandy can't do anything other than bake cakes and raise her children. 
When Mandy's childhood friend - beautiful, clever Ruth - and Ruth's Falklands war hero husband, Dan, return to town, their homecoming is shrouded in mystery. 
Like in their schooldays, Mandy looks to Ruth for inspiration - but Ruth isn't all she appears.  
As conflict with the Coal Board turns into war, the men come out on strike. The community and its whole way of life is threatened. Mandy abandons her dreams of liberation from the kitchen sink and joins a support group. 
As the strike rumbles on, relationships are pushed to the brink, and Mandy finds out just who she is - and who her true friends are.

Public Battles, Private Wars by Laura Wilkinson was published by Accent Press, in ebook in March 2014 and in paperback in October 2014, and is the author's second novel.

Set against the miner's strike in the early 80s, in a small Yorkshire pit town; Public Battles, Private Wars is a story of a community's fight to survive and one woman's personal journey.

Mandy and Rob married young, and had kids. They live amongst family and friends and Rob followed the rest of his family to work down the pit. Mandy has secret dreams, she wants to learn to type, she regrets her wasted schooldays, and knows that she could do more. Mrs Thatcher threatens to shut the pits, the men go on strike and Mandy uses her love of cooking to head up the soup kitchen. It's not long before she's the spokeswoman for the Action Group - travelling to London, giving talks, being interviewed by the newspapers - using her brain.

What should have brought her and Rob together seems to have pushed them further apart, and when Mandy's old school friend Ruth moves back into town, with her ex-soldier husband Dan, relationships seem to deteriorate even more.

Ruth seems to have it all. A good job, nice clothes, a great figure, money to spend, but Mandy senses that things are not all that they seem between Dan and Ruth.

Laura Wilkinson is great with words. Her fictionalised town of Fenley could be any of the small pit towns in South Yorkshire, her characters have real Northern grit, the language is spot on. This story is authentic and the setting is excellently portrayed.

I particularly enjoyed the fact that whilst Public Battles, Private Wars is set around the miner's strike, it is not wholly consumed by it. The story is more about the people, especially the women, and how they coped and how they grew during the twelve months that the men were out.

A well-written, compelling story with some great characters. Public Battlers, Private Wars is a story that looks at friendships, community, love and jealousy.

My thanks to the author, Laura Wilkinson, who sent my copy for review.

For more information about Laura Wilkinson and her writing, visit her website www.laura-wilkinson.co.uk

Follow her on Twitter @ScorpioScribble

1 comment:

  1. Anne, that's a lovely, generous review. Thank you.