The Clippie Girls by Margaret Dickinson

Challenge 25 ~ “A book whose main character is in a profession that interests you.”


★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

One of my favourite places to visit during the holidays has always been the Crich Tram Museum (which may sound extremely boring, but is actually a living museum with period shops, transport and staff, and well worth a visit). From the very start I was enamoured with the trams and the joking, friendly clippies, who just got to wonder around punching holes and chatting with passengers. Whilst it may not be a feasible career path these days, it was definitely one of the things I wanted to be when I was younger. A few years back, we happened to visit on the 1940s weekend (a fascinating insight into WW2-Sheffield in itself), where I picked up (and got autographed) a copy of The Clippie Girls. Despite owning it, I’d never had a chance to read it yet, but as soon as I saw this challenge, I knew this was the book to read.

The Clippie Girls certainly didn’t disappoint. In fact, it offered a much deeper insight into the role of a clippie than I was expecting, and I discovered many parts to the role I’d never even considered. Of course, this was made all the more interesting by Dickinson’s exploration of the emergence of female clippies into a previously male role. The plot itself was largely predictable and straight forward, although Dickinson did use the odd twist to keep reader interest, including character revelations that had a particularly strong impact on the reader’s perspective. There were several points throughout the novel where Dickinson could have ended the novel, but unlike with Hardinge’s Cuckoo Song, these extensions were used effectively and provided additional, action-filled story arcs.

Not every good book has to present a novel idea, in an original manner with breath-taking writing style and unforeseen plot twists. The Clippie Girls is a standard romance/historical fiction novel, but with an uncommon setting, and exploring a largely unwritten-about profession. Dickinson’s plot and writing are both strong, making the book into a quaint and enjoyable read about something that’s just a little bit different. So if you’re a WW2 fanatic, interested in Sheffield’s history (which has clearly been well-researched for the novel), or just fancy finding out about trams and the emergence of female conductors (clippies), The Clippie Girls is a great, well-written choice.

Recommended for fans of:

  • Bicycles and Blackberries by Sheila Newberry
  • Atonement by Ian McEwan
  • These Shallow Graves by Jennifer Donnelly

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