Book Review: The Glovemaker’s War
Reviewed by Madeline Barbush
A devastatingly beautiful portrait of three generations of fierce women willing to fight for love
The Glovemaker’s War is a riveting novel of love and war. Katherine Williams seamlessly weaves the stories of three generations of women into one, which will put a lump in your throat and love in your heart.
Through her characters, Williams not only shows us what bravery and which patriotic values were at the center of the French Résistance against the German occupation, but also the love, miraculously born out of such devastation, and its persistence through time.
In 2016, Eve Harrison and her granddaughter Georgina know basically nothing of each other. Georgina’s mother, Angela, was never fond of her upbringing in Worcester, England, so she became estranged from her mother in attempts to leave her childhood behind.
Georgina is living a glamorous life in Manhattan when her mother notifies her that her grandmother (“Grandy” as they call her) isn’t well, and that she must go visit her in her mother’s stead. Georgina, in the midst of a fight with her lover in Manhattan, begrudgingly hops on a plane to fulfill her careless mother’s duties.
Georgina anticipates spending a limited time with Grandy until her mother can finally arrive, but she finds she is in for much more than that.
Eve, sickly and aging, has been prepared to tell her granddaughter her most valued life secrets, and from that point forward we flash back and forth through her life’s journey starting in 1943 Worcester, England and 2016.
We follow her from her home in Friar’s Lane, where she worked at her family’s glove making shop, all the way to Grenoble, France, where she would serve as an undercover agent for England, helping the resistance fighters defend France against German infiltration.
You may have read World War II stories before, but you have not read this perspective: that of a bilingual glove maker recruited as part of the undercover resistance. Williams brilliantly creates Eve Harrison to show us an example of the humble, unassuming people who fought the war in ways that did not involve guns and weaponry.
Her story is timely and especially painful, because during Eve’s work as an undercover spy, she sees innocent lives being taken by the enemy, some of whom are close to her and she attempts to protect. Williams breaks our hearts by showing us how war can devastate so many beautiful lives. Shops that surround Eve’s family’s glove making shop begin to close, Eve’s love of her life is torn from her—the list could go endlessly on.
There is a stark contrast between the life of Eve Harrison and her granddaughter. It’s incredible to see the sacrifices our grandparents or others who have come before us have made and how much we take for granted. Only two generations down and our lives can be so different.
Williams elegantly transforms Georgina’s character in a way that never feels rushed or contrived. Georgina is flawed, sure, but the insight she gains from her grandmother’s past helps us see her in a different light, and that is always refreshing to experience as a reader: true three dimensional characters.
Through this poignant uniting of two fierce women, we get a chance to experience the life of a woman who sacrificed her entire life in the name of honor and love; and we see the effect, both positive and negative, that such a full yet tangled life can have on the generations that follow.
The Glovemaker’s War is well worth the read to find out if the women will find the loves of their lives, if daughters will rekindle lost relationships with their mothers, and if love can repair the ravages of war.
Publisher: Atmosphere Press
Genre: Historical Fiction / WWII
Print Length: 222 pages
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