The Sweethearts by Lynn Russell & Neil Hanson

This sweet book chronicles the experiences of 5 Rowntrees girls between the years 1932-1980.

The Rowntrees company looked after their staff well, it seems, and were the first company to promote women to higher management roles. Their rules seemed tough but fair. Against the backdrop of the Rowntrees company, the book details the lives and struggles of the women – poverty, housing, war, marriage, contraception, children, divorce, happy marriages…its all covered, as well as later covering Thatcherism and changes that swept the Rowntrees company as a whole.

The only criticism I could think of when reading this book was that it was a bit repetitive but aside from that it was quite a nice bit of escapism. The memories of each woman is brought to life and they each have their own individual voice. Its interesting to think that many of the girls were only 14 and school leavers when they began working for the company. The book finishes up by tying up all the loose ends in regards to the women’s lives. For many of them, they either got other jobs or still remained involved with the company even after Nestle brought it. One of the women would be willing to go back and work for them again – even if she is only 94!

One thing is for certain, and that is the women in the book remember their time at Rowntrees with nothing but affection.

MY RATING: *** / *****


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