I must declare my hand as not being entirely impartial as I grew up a stone's throw from the Grand Union Canal at Hanwell and used to walk to Brentford Docks. This is a fascinating book based on true experiences of the author although she has combined all her experiences of running narrow boats on the Grand Union between London and Birmingham during the second world war. This does make the women seem a little dizzy as all the misfortunes befall them on one trip but it is a fascinating account none the less and it is interesting how the women relate to each other and their expectations at a time when life was harder.
A girl's own adventure: MAIDENS' TRIP BY EMMA SMITH
One person found this helpful. Strangely not dated by the time that has passed. This is the story , well written and well structured, of young middle class women working as bargees during the war. By today's standards a hugely naif group of girls but you do come away believing that 'that was just how it was'. The whole way of life of the barge crews and the trade along the canals is well shown and is again something which has disappeared.
This is a very attractive tale. Kindle Edition Verified Purchase. Loved this, Bought it on Kindle I really enjoyed reading this book. I didnt know anything about the girls that worked on the barges so it was really interesting to read, I could not put this book down, a Brilliant read. Which Emma had written more It has made me want to learn more about the girls that worked for the WW2 canals, land army's.
Beautifully written story of how young women with no boating experience took important cargo by narrowboat from Limehouse docks in central London to the Midlands during the desperate times of WW2. Emma has brought together separate real incidents from her memory of several trips into just one 'fictional' journey I loved every minute of this.
There's a freshness, a lightness of touch, that makes for a very readable story. What's more it's one of those things that tends to get overlooked.
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We all know about the Land Girls but who knew about this. If you've spent any time in a narrow boat, and even if you haven't, give this a whirl. An enjoyable tale of working the inland waterways during the second world war. Factually accurate in a lot of specifics, even covering some of the errors novices make. The author wrote with regards to her own memories but combined several journeys into one single trip which seems to leave the affair as a one of expedition. Still worth a read. This is another excellent read, if like me love the canals and reading about them in the hey day.
About three women taking over thier own narrow boats after training in WW2. It was adventure they never invisage.
Emma Smith's wartime account of life on the Canals is a fascinating read for canal buffs like me; I have walked every step of the Grand Union and I knew the places of which she writes. However I passed the book to others with no interest in canals and they found it equally interesting and compelling, it's just a great story.
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Emma Smith - Maidens' Trip
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She was born Elspeth Hallsmith in , and last year she published The Great Western Beach, a magical memoir of her childhood in Cornwall. But prizes are no guarantee of lasting fame, and although Smith continued to write successful children's books and short stories, and in published a further novel, her earlier books were almost neglected enough to qualify for entry into the cemetery of forgotten books. This, together with the success of The Great Western Beach, began a glorious late flowering of Smith's literary career.
In her preface to the new edition, Smith writes that 'Maidens' Trip is part fact, and part fiction, and no one has ever been quite sure which heading it ought properly to come under. All the things that happen to the three characters did actually happen to actual girls, but over a much longer period of time and to a number of different girls'.
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The exigencies of wartime supply the background to the book. The Grand Union Canal was then a commercial waterway used by boats carrying cargos of steel, cement and coal between London and Birmingham.
BBC Radio 4 - Afternoon Drama, Emma Smith - Maidens' Trip
In Smith, a good middle-class girl, was signed on by the Grand Union Canal Carrying Company under its wartime scheme of employing women to run boats left idle by the absence of men at war. The success of the scheme was limited - accidents were frequent, and many girls left to join the Wrens - so there were only ever a few girls working the boats on the canal.
Their experience was a world away from that of the 'boaters' - the families who lived full-time on their vessels, perpetually on the move, often unable to read or write and isolated from the world of house-dwellers by 'a kind of social silence'.
That glorious sense of liberation effervesces through Maidens' Trip. Cold, damp, drudgery and occasional disaster hardly ever quell the appetite for adventure of Emma, Nanette and Charity, three year-olds who are tasting independence for the first time.