Title: The Mothers of Quality Street
Author: Penny Thorpe
Genre: Historical Fiction
Release Date: March 5, 2020
The ups and down of three plucky factory girls, set in Britain’s best loved wrapped chocolate factory.
The Quality Street Factory is fizzing with the news that the King and Queen and the two young princesses, Elizabeth and Margaret Rose, are going to visit the Mackintosh Factory where the country’s favourite wrapped chocolate is made. The factory floor is heady with excitement but plans are dealt a blow when a much loved staff member is the victim of a poisoning incident.
Everyone is under suspicion, which only adds to Reenie Calder’s woes, anxious that her new promotion has only made her stick out even more like a sore thumb. Can she and her friends, Mary and Diana, get their heads together and find the malicious troublemaker before something unthinkable happens?
The King is coming to visit the Quality Street factory. Everyone is excited about planning the event. They bring married women back to work, who lost their jobs when they got married, because they need more workers on the floor. A sudden scandal threatens to cancel their event when poisoned candy is found. They have to figure out how to make the workers happy, while also preparing to receive the King.
I loved the style of writing in this book. The first line was great: “The toffees for the window display had been carefully painted with strong poison.” I had never heard of candy being painted with poison, so this line hooked me right from the start. The poison was meant to deter rats from eating the candy, but the candies ended up in the wrong hands. Another great line was “She looked like a tart’s handbag turned inside out,” which described a new worker at the factory. These lines made the story so entertaining.
There was some great dramatic irony in this book. Dramatic irony is when the reader knows something that the characters don’t know yet. Right at the beginning the owner of the candy store paints the candies with poison, but then he doesn’t properly dispose of them, so a customer ends up buying them by accident. Throughout the first half of the book, we wait to see who will end up eating the poisoned chocolates, while the characters don’t even know they exist.
There were some other subplots as well, including ones about women returning to the work force after having children and the planning for the King’s visit. I found it so absurd to think that the women couldn’t return to their jobs just because they had gotten married or had children. It happened back then, in 1937, but it seems crazy to imagine today.
This is a great story! Make sure you have chocolates nearby while you read it!
What to read next:
The Quality Street Girls by Penny Thorpe
The Whispers of War by Julia Kelly
Other Books in the Series:
- The Quality Street Girls
Have you read The Mothers of Quality Street? What did you think of it?