3 out of 4 stars
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Argyll Street by Jon Moorthorpe is a historical fiction novel that follows the life of William Gregory, who emigrated to Canada from Aspull, Lancashire in the United Kingdom. William was born in 1879 and began working in the coal mines with his father and older brother, Harry, at a young age. He worked in the mines for several years helping to support the family. However, one day William’s father saw a notice in the newspaper stating that there were opportunities in Canada for young men with experience in the coal industry. Mr. Gregory advised his son that there were more opportunities and higher wages available in Canada. William considered this and, within a few years, he decided to make the move.
William was married with two small children at the time he emigrated to Canada. After he obtained a house for his growing family, he moved his wife and children to Canada to be with him. After several years working in the Canadian mines, William and his family were impacted by World War I. William decided to enlist with the support and approval of his wife, Elizabeth. The book covers his basic training and when he is eventually stationed in France during the war. The hardships of the war are covered by the author in detail.
What I enjoyed most about this book is the historical aspect. The author conducted a considerable amount of research into the life of William and the events in the world at that time. I also thoroughly enjoyed the dialogue between the characters. It was realistic and executed very well by the author. In addition, the book contains photographs of William and his family. These photographs add an additional layer to the story that will have an impact on readers.
The story was primarily about William as an adult after his move to Canada. However, there were several sudden jumps in time in the book. Since they were sudden, it took a minute to realize significant time had passed. For example, William was a young boy working with his father in the mines and then suddenly he was a young man with a girlfriend. This was the only aspect of the book that I disliked, but it was a very minor negative aspect. Since the focus of the book is William’s adult life, the time jumps are understandable.
I enjoyed reading this book. The details about William’s life are fascinating. However, there were more than ten errors in the book, so I am unable to give it a perfect score. For this reason, I rate this book 3 out of 4 stars. I recommend this book to readers who enjoy historical fiction books about World War I, immigration to Canada or the life of coal miners in the turn of the century.
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