The Beauty Shop by Suzy Henderson, 313 pages, Avis Press, November 28, 2016. Genre: Historical Romance. Warning: May Contain Spoilers.
Review by Leigh Holland
I was raised by the Greatest Generation, the men and women of World War II. My grandfather and seven great-uncles served in World War II; two of whom were at Pearl Harbor, although only one of the pair ever made it home. I sat at their feet as a child, drinking in their stories. My heart felt heavy for the depth of the losses they’d suffered. Although The Beauty Shop is fiction, it felt as real to me as those stories I heard firsthand as a little girl.
The historical aspects of the book are impeccable. Never once did I think something was amiss, out of time or place. The author knew the historical period and place and rendered an immersive experience. The descriptive devices brought to bear the horrors of war. The stories of the misfortunes of the minor characters drove home the reality that death could come at any time during war; however, hope remains.
Written in third person narrative style, we follow two heroes through the tale: Archibald “Archie” McIndoe and John “Mac” MacKenzie. Archie is a surgeon, helping pilots who suffered severe burns using the latest techniques. Archie is not a warrior, proving one does not need to fight in a war to be one of the heroes of it. Archie will go to any length to try to restore these men, not just physically, but emotionally as well. Mac is an American fighter pilot who falls in love with Stella, an English girl. Although Stella is with another man, Alex, Mac remains persistent in his efforts to win her over. After Alex mistreats Stella, Stella decides to end their relationship and be with Mac. Mac, however, suffers severe burns when he heroically goes back to the burning wreckage of his plane to save his friend. Archie treats Mac for his burns and helps him see that pushing Stella away would be the wrong choice for both Mac and Stella.
I enjoyed reading The Beauty Shop. Characters were well developed and the book was well written. I felt an array of emotions over the course of the story. I smiled, I gasped in horror, I cried, I yelled, “No, you fool, run after her!” I’d recommend this book to anyone who enjoys historical romance.
You can find this book here : The Beauty Shop
War changes everyone, inside and out. The remarkable true story of the Guinea Pig Club.
England, 1942. After three years of WWII, Britain is showing the scars. But in this darkest of days, three lives intertwine, changing their destinies and those of many more.
Dr Archibald McIndoe, a New Zealand plastic surgeon with unorthodox methods, is on a mission to treat and rehabilitate badly burned airmen – their bodies and souls. With the camaraderie and support of the Guinea Pig Club, his boys battle to overcome disfigurement, pain, and prejudice to learn to live again.
John ‘Mac’ Mackenzie of the US Air Force is aware of the odds. He has one chance in five of surviving the war. Flying bombing missions through hell and back, he’s fighting more than the Luftwaffe. Fear and doubt stalk him on the ground and in the air, and he’s torn between his duty and his conscience.
Shy, decent and sensible Stella Charlton’s future seems certain until war breaks out. As a new recruit to the WAAF, she meets an American pilot on New Year’s Eve. After just one dance, she falls head over heels for the handsome airman. But when he survives a crash, she realises her own battle has only just begun.
Based on a true story, “The Beauty Shop” is a moving tale of love, compassion, and determination against a backdrop of wartime tragedy.
“A fantastic topic to write about, dealt with sensitively and written in beautiful prose.” Author Christoph Fischer. “I knew this was a book that had to be savoured. The depth of emotion that the author placed into each character’s perspective was intriguing, and I found myself captivated by her talent and ability to weave a story.” Author and historian Hunter S. Jones.
About the Author
Suzy Henderson was born in the North of England and initially pursued a career in healthcare, specialising as a midwife. Years later, having left her chosen profession, she embarked upon a degree in English Literature and Creative Writing at The Open University. That was the beginning of a new life journey, rekindling her love of writing and passion for history. With an obsession for military and aviation history, she began to write. It was an old black and white photograph of her grandmother in her WAAF service uniform that caught Suzy’s imagination many years ago. Her grandmother never spoke of her war service and died in 1980, taking her stories with her. When Suzy decided to research her family history and her grandmother’s war service, things spiralled from there. Stories came to light, little-known stories and tragedies and it is such discoveries that inform her writing today. Having relocated to North Cumbria, she has the Pennines and the Scottish Borders in sight and finally feels at home. Suzy is a member of the Historical Novel Society and her debut novel, “The Beauty Shop” was released in November 2016.