Hot Best Seller

Custard Tarts and Broken Hearts

Availability: Ready to download

Factory girls fight for their loves, lives and rights in World War I Bermondsey. They call them the custard tarts - the girls who work at Pearce Duff's custard powder factory in Bermondsey before the First World War. Conditions are hard but nothing can quench the spirit of humour and friendship - or the rising tide of anger that will finally bring the girls out on strike Factory girls fight for their loves, lives and rights in World War I Bermondsey. They call them the custard tarts - the girls who work at Pearce Duff's custard powder factory in Bermondsey before the First World War. Conditions are hard but nothing can quench the spirit of humour and friendship - or the rising tide of anger that will finally bring the girls out on strike for a better deal. For one of them, striking spells disaster. Nellie Clark's wages keep her young brothers and sister from starvation, while her father sinks into drunken violence after the death of their mother. While Nellie struggles to keep her family together, two men compete for her love, and over them looms the shadow of the coming war, which will pull London's East End together as never before - even while it tears the world apart.


Compare

Factory girls fight for their loves, lives and rights in World War I Bermondsey. They call them the custard tarts - the girls who work at Pearce Duff's custard powder factory in Bermondsey before the First World War. Conditions are hard but nothing can quench the spirit of humour and friendship - or the rising tide of anger that will finally bring the girls out on strike Factory girls fight for their loves, lives and rights in World War I Bermondsey. They call them the custard tarts - the girls who work at Pearce Duff's custard powder factory in Bermondsey before the First World War. Conditions are hard but nothing can quench the spirit of humour and friendship - or the rising tide of anger that will finally bring the girls out on strike for a better deal. For one of them, striking spells disaster. Nellie Clark's wages keep her young brothers and sister from starvation, while her father sinks into drunken violence after the death of their mother. While Nellie struggles to keep her family together, two men compete for her love, and over them looms the shadow of the coming war, which will pull London's East End together as never before - even while it tears the world apart.

30 review for Custard Tarts and Broken Hearts

  1. 5 out of 5

    Jo

    This book is the kind of book you read with a strong brew and a cream bun. For me, this was a mediocre read. I've read books similar to this before, and I remember being more impressed. The story is based around the first world war, and we meet a sixteen year old girl called Nellie, who takes us on a journey through her life, her hardships, her laughs and her loves. To be honest, I think the story as a whole was way too dragged out, and would have been okay being 100 pages less. The story was This book is the kind of book you read with a strong brew and a cream bun. For me, this was a mediocre read. I've read books similar to this before, and I remember being more impressed. The story is based around the first world war, and we meet a sixteen year old girl called Nellie, who takes us on a journey through her life, her hardships, her laughs and her loves. To be honest, I think the story as a whole was way too dragged out, and would have been okay being 100 pages less. The story was very predictable. Nellie went with the bad guy, and she was blind to see that the good guy loved her all along until half way through the book. Very frustrating!! The plot wasn't particularly strong, and it lost my interest and focus not even halfway through the book. I could tell the story was going to end happily, and the ending was slightly twee for me. Maybe I was expecting a little too much from this. I didn't hate this, but I didn't love it either.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Ann

    Friendships, plenty of love, hard work, family, guilt, loyalty and so much more it is all here in this story. Life was hard in those days during world war one. The author portrays a realistic view of the struggles so many had. Nellie has so much to contend with and her life gets harder when, already motherless, she loses her father and becomes the sole breadwinner for her family at sixteen. How she copes is nothing short of miraculous. Hardships in the factories also comes into play and the total Friendships, plenty of love, hard work, family, guilt, loyalty and so much more it is all here in this story. Life was hard in those days during world war one. The author portrays a realistic view of the struggles so many had. Nellie has so much to contend with and her life gets harder when, already motherless, she loses her father and becomes the sole breadwinner for her family at sixteen. How she copes is nothing short of miraculous. Hardships in the factories also comes into play and the total lack of safety and the rights of the woman working in them. This is a gritty story but with heart warming sides also. Great characters and I loved the romance flowing throughout between Sam and Nellie. Well worth reading.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Dawn

    It's been a long time since I've enjoyed a book as thoroughly as I did "Custard Tarts and Broken Hearts" by Mary Gibson. It's hard to believe this is Mary Gibson's first novel. The writing is superb - fluid, enveloping, unpretentious, comfortable and completely entertaining. The story mainly focuses on Nellie Clark, her life through the strikes of 1911, the years leading up to the first world war, and the war itself. There are plenty of giggles, a few gasps, and towards the end, a few tears (and It's been a long time since I've enjoyed a book as thoroughly as I did "Custard Tarts and Broken Hearts" by Mary Gibson. It's hard to believe this is Mary Gibson's first novel. The writing is superb - fluid, enveloping, unpretentious, comfortable and completely entertaining. The story mainly focuses on Nellie Clark, her life through the strikes of 1911, the years leading up to the first world war, and the war itself. There are plenty of giggles, a few gasps, and towards the end, a few tears (and yes, it's been a long, long time since any book made me cry!). You can't help but care about the characters. Nellie, Lily, Alice, George, Bobby and Freddie, and later, Sam, Jock, Matty and Charlie. They are so real it's almost like reading a fictionalised account of a true story. Brilliant! And thanks to Mary Gibson, I now understand what my Nan was really saying when I heard "Nooket's Knocker"! I'd recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a good read.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Andrea

    This book deserves a 5* plus.hooked hooked hooked couldn't put this book down,starts of girls working in a custard factory its friendships hard times family war.Brilliant book worth reading.well written book.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Anna Kravcova

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I do not normally leave reviews either good or bad, but in this case I just feel the need to speak my heart out. I bought this book because of the high rating both on Amazon and Goodreads, expecting to find a good piece of historical fiction. However, to my bitter disappointment I found many hours of boring read, skipping through the pages to get to the essence. While I give the author the credit for creating a very authentic atmosphere, and do believe that one can learn a lot about the I do not normally leave reviews either good or bad, but in this case I just feel the need to speak my heart out. I bought this book because of the high rating both on Amazon and Goodreads, expecting to find a good piece of historical fiction. However, to my bitter disappointment I found many hours of boring read, skipping through the pages to get to the essence. While I give the author the credit for creating a very authentic atmosphere, and do believe that one can learn a lot about the historical events of the time, the plot is super predictable, and the main characters are so very sugary, you want to puke. ATTENTION! SPOILERS! **** The main protagonist Nellie Clark is described as a pure angel. She works ridiculous hours at the factory, and gives away almost all her money to her dad. When her dad kickes her out of the house, she doesn't have any hard feelings against him. When her boyfriends leaves her, she doesn't hate him either. She raises her brothers and sisters as their mum, and then takes in the siblings of her friends, who goes to war because she gave a promise to his mum. She works really hard, takes overtime, and does homework to earn "a few bobs". She never losses her nerve through out the whole book. She also waits for her second boyfriend until the end of WW1. He finally comes back, and they live happily ever after. This is pretty much the whole story. Then there is her fiance Sam Gilbie, who also hardly has any negative traits. He is trying to get her attention since they are 16, forgives her chosing another man over him, helps her first boyfriend to escape police, and basically helps her with everything until he goes to war. The only time when he is not so "goody-goody" is when he comes back from the war, and seems rather distant - mainly doesn't tell her "I love you" and doesn't want to talk about war. But, after some time, Nellie makes a huge discovery that this is because of the death of his horse! Once they talk about it, it all magically goes back to normal. I am sorry, but this has as much to do with the reality as Twilight... Real people do not behave this way! All the time through the book it felt so completely artificial and sugary! I can't believe people are rating it so high. To my mind, while the voice is good, the plot is quite mediocre.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Karen James

    I enjoyed this book so much I've read it twice to make sure I didn't miss anything. the story is fantastic not to predictable and it keeps you gripped with each new turn of events. about half way through so much had happened I had to check to make sure it was half way. this book took me in a journey back in time and in between reading I googled the history and what I imagined was spot on I cant say enough. brilliant this will be a keeper.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Kathy

    Have had this book in my TBR for absolutely ages but I have no idea why it kept getting lower down the pile – I can happily say it is a fantastic, heartwarming read. Loved the characters, the relationships and the friendship of the ladies in the custard packing factory. It is also thought provoking in an era where I feel accomplished just getting the kids on the bus on time, to think what these incredible women went through is amazing and the joy they got when they had so little. Well written Have had this book in my TBR for absolutely ages but I have no idea why it kept getting lower down the pile – I can happily say it is a fantastic, heartwarming read. Loved the characters, the relationships and the friendship of the ladies in the custard packing factory. It is also thought provoking in an era where I feel accomplished just getting the kids on the bus on time, to think what these incredible women went through is amazing and the joy they got when they had so little. Well written and highly recommend…..

  8. 5 out of 5

    Heather

    A story full of struggle and hardship, but also of warmth and love. Vaguely a feel-good read. At the beginning I struggled to like most of the characters, but Nellie especially grew on me as the story progressed. And progressed it did with a lightening fast pace. It zoomed through events, often glossing over them, and I often wished the author would have lingered on particular threads of the story. The plot itself was very predictable and twee at times. Overall I neither hated it nor loved it.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Stephanie Jane (Literary Flits)

    I found Custard Tarts And Broken Hearts in the book exchange at Broadgate Farm CL campsite. It is set in a similar time period to We That Are Left, but instead of focusing on the upper classes experiences of the First World War, this novel examines the lives of working women in Bermondsey, London. Nellie, a young Bermondsey woman is one of the 'custard tarts' of the title - a worker at a custard powder packing factory. The women work eleven hour days with scarcely a break for half the pay of male I found Custard Tarts And Broken Hearts in the book exchange at Broadgate Farm CL campsite. It is set in a similar time period to We That Are Left, but instead of focusing on the upper classes experiences of the First World War, this novel examines the lives of working women in Bermondsey, London. Nellie, a young Bermondsey woman is one of the 'custard tarts' of the title - a worker at a custard powder packing factory. The women work eleven hour days with scarcely a break for half the pay of male staff and the beginning of this novel shows their struggle for basic working rights and equitable pay. Mary Gibson has incorporated a lot of her grandmother's experiences into her book and its historical aspects feel genuine and well-researched throughout. As in the recent film, Suffragette, Nellie suffers ostracism from her family for 'daring' to cause trouble by striking and attending rallies. However a strong sense of community and sisterhood amongst the women wins the day and this is a repeated theme throughout the book. A love triangle for Nellie's affections is used to show different aspects of Bermondsey life. I wasn't so convinced by this as it was pretty predictable and got very saccharine in places. The incredible hardships faced by Nellie and her family were fascinating to read about, but trivialised by their apparently simple overcoming. Anything can be surmounted by the putting on of the kettle and a brief 'all in it together' inspirational speech. Custard Tarts And Broken Hearts is an easy read which does give insights into women's lives in the 1910s, however it wasn't gritty and real enough for my tastes and I did find the writing too repetitive. The novel would be fine for a light holiday read, but I would have preferred stronger characterisations. See more of my book reviews on my blog, Stephanie Jane

  10. 5 out of 5

    Claire

    Absolutely wonderful read. I have to say that this is not normally my kind of book but as I was giving it away for World Book Night I felt compelled to read it. By three pages in I was hooked. Mary Gibson takes you straight back to a time where struggle was 'real' struggle. It was an emotional journey & thoroughly enjoyed & I was proud to have passed them on to others to enjoy.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Debbi

    3.5 stars. Good story about life in the East End prior and thru WWI. This is the first book in "The Factory Girls" series. Does a good job talking about the pros and cons of the strikes happening then and the terrible working conditions.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Sharon Harvey

    A few late nights were involved, I was so keen to read about what was happening in Nellie's life the lives of the people around her.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Lauren

    Loved it, though the speed was a little irregular. Some parts were unnecessarily slow and then others seemed like they warranted more time.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Bernadette Robinson

    I doubt I'd have picked this one up if it hadn't been one of my local Library Reading Group reads. I've given it a 3 stars or 6/10. It was overly long in my opinion, there were a lot of characters that I seemed to lose track of along the way. It was well written though, but I'm sorry it just wasn't as engaging to me as some of my other reads. If you like saga style stories set around the early 1900's then this is the ideal book for you.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Sandra

    What a lovely story of Nellie and the Custard Tarts,had me hooked from the start as i so wanted Nellie to find happiness and settle down.well done to Mary Gibson i am now on book 2.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Becca

    Not the type of book I would normally pick out for myself, but thought I'd give it a go due to good reviews and I loved it! It felt very authentic, like growing up alongside these people, and it's really interesting to see a common period of historical fiction from a completely different perspective. It also portrays the hardship, poverty and the public mood in the time before the War which was very interesting. Books like this make it easier to empathize and comprehend what people lived Not the type of book I would normally pick out for myself, but thought I'd give it a go due to good reviews and I loved it! It felt very authentic, like growing up alongside these people, and it's really interesting to see a common period of historical fiction from a completely different perspective. It also portrays the hardship, poverty and the public mood in the time before the War which was very interesting. Books like this make it easier to empathize and comprehend what people lived through, and it's nice that it's from the perspective of the women back home as well as the men. Hard to believe it's her first book, I would love to see it as a film or TV series mad out of this.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Andrew

    I liked the way this novel explores the social issues which prevailed in the early 1900s in the UK and in particular in this part of London. This is a well written family saga which encapsulates a vast range of inequality and class issues. The central character, Nellie is well created and provides a focal point around whom a plethora of family and extended family are framed. As the novel progresses it also deals with the horrors of the Great War, seen from the viewpoint of those left at home. On I liked the way this novel explores the social issues which prevailed in the early 1900s in the UK and in particular in this part of London. This is a well written family saga which encapsulates a vast range of inequality and class issues. The central character, Nellie is well created and provides a focal point around whom a plethora of family and extended family are framed. As the novel progresses it also deals with the horrors of the Great War, seen from the viewpoint of those left at home. On the strength of this I will certainly read her second book, Jam and Roses.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Louise

    Mary Gibson has set the seen of the factory women's struggle for equality in Bermondsey so well you feel as if you are fighting alongside them. The twists and turns of the friendship, love and family keep you gripped throughout. The Characters are engaging and soon feel like old friends. A real insight into London during the first world war, a great story! I won this on a Goodreads Advanced Readers Giveaway

  19. 4 out of 5

    Tkjtwmr

    Fun read with a few twists and turns but once again, historical fiction tied up in a pretty bow. Really, one conversation can cure a fellow of PTSD!! None-the-less I learned a few things about pre-World War 1 I did not know about as well as the working conditions of factory workers at that time and beyond.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Jill

    not a book I would probably have bought but thanks to my lovely friend Lubna who gave me this book as part of world book night I finally sat down & read it. I found it to be an enjoyable & easy read of fiction mixed with fact

  21. 5 out of 5

    emma morris

    Another lovely read Looking forward to the next Mary Gibson book, a heartwarming story full of history Loved all three of Marys books.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Margaret Carney

    I really enjoyed this book. The characters were great and the story kept me interested. It was recommended by a friend and I recommend it to my friends and to anyone who reads this review.

  23. 4 out of 5

    PatsyPoo

    Not my kind of book at all. Totally predictable, boring at times and I didn't care much for any of the characters.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Kylie H

    Great story about the era around WW1 and women in the workforce. Great characters and plot, I really enjoyed this.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Brenda Anderson

    Brilliant read,hooked from the start.great author.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Shaz

    Sixteen year old Nellie Clark works in Pearce Duff’s custard factory in East London and with three younger siblings, her family depends on her wages. But when the factory women of Bermondsey go on strike in 1911, Nellie must decide where her loyalties lie. Whilst she and her family struggle to make ends meet, times get even more tough when the Great War breaks out. And as the young men get ready to fight for their country, Nellie and her friends wonder if they’ll ever see their male loved ones Sixteen year old Nellie Clark works in Pearce Duff’s custard factory in East London and with three younger siblings, her family depends on her wages. But when the factory women of Bermondsey go on strike in 1911, Nellie must decide where her loyalties lie. Whilst she and her family struggle to make ends meet, times get even more tough when the Great War breaks out. And as the young men get ready to fight for their country, Nellie and her friends wonder if they’ll ever see their male loved ones again. Nellie is a brave, spirited female protagonist who I felt warmly towards. She is forced to grow up quickly and becomes a mother figure to her three younger siblings. Her family depends on her and she knows that she can’t abandon them. Whilst she does make some mistakes along the way, these help her to grow as a person. Nellie’s younger loyal sister, Alice, is also admirable in that she juggles caring for her siblings and maintaining the household, along with Nellie. One of the themes of this book is poverty. It shines a light on the difficult and strenuous working conditions of the factory girls in 1911. Not to mention that the women got paid half the men’s wages. Indeed, poverty hangs over the Clark family like a spectre. Reading this novel made me realise how lucky people are, by comparison, in the modern-day. I’m not sure if I could cope with the hardships Nellie and her family are put through. There’s also some romance as Nellie has two admirers who are very different from each other. Sam Gilbie has a heart of gold and is always there for Nellie. Ted Bosher, by contrast, is dangerous and holds extreme political views. Rivalry abounds between these two cousins, as well as bad blood. Although one aspect of the story is fairly predictable, I did feel emotional during some key dramatic moments. This is an interesting story, made even more poignant because the author Mary Gibson drew inspiration from her grandparents’ real-life experiences. I received a great insight into how the women’s strike of 1911 and the First World War changed everything for everyone. This review also appears on my blog, Shaz Reads.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Nicki

    Nellie is a 16-year-old girl from Bermondsey living with her widowed father and three younger siblings in the years before the First World War. This novel follows her as she falls in love, fights to keep her family together after a tragedy and waits for news of her man when he goes off to fight in the trenches. Along the way, she takes part in a strike, learns how to ride a penny farthing and packs a lot of custard powder. It's a fairly predictable tale, with Nellie falling for the bad body and Nellie is a 16-year-old girl from Bermondsey living with her widowed father and three younger siblings in the years before the First World War. This novel follows her as she falls in love, fights to keep her family together after a tragedy and waits for news of her man when he goes off to fight in the trenches. Along the way, she takes part in a strike, learns how to ride a penny farthing and packs a lot of custard powder. It's a fairly predictable tale, with Nellie falling for the bad body and ignoring the good man waiting patiently in the wings for her until the scales fall from her eyes. It's a typical, kitchen sink tale where everything works out perfectly in the end. It's a little bit twee at times, but it has a big heart.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Mrs Doreen A Broomfield

    A wonderful story of the First World War and how people had survived hard times, Nellie and Lilly her best friend Lilly announced she was getting married to jock her fella, Nellie fell in love with her brother he treated her badly and eventually left after a bombing he was involved in. Sam wanted to walk out with Nellie but she wasn’t interested. Sam stayed close to her and after her dad died in an accident, and some years later his mother died they were both orphans, then the war broke out it A wonderful story of the First World War and how people had survived hard times, Nellie and Lilly her best friend Lilly announced she was getting married to jock her fella, Nellie fell in love with her brother he treated her badly and eventually left after a bombing he was involved in. Sam wanted to walk out with Nellie but she wasn’t interested. Sam stayed close to her and after her dad died in an accident, and some years later his mother died they were both orphans, then the war broke out it was a sad but very entertaining book

  29. 4 out of 5

    Marnie

    Set at the start of WW1 in London, follow the story of factory women. Working in the custard packaging plant, the women organize for better wages, thankfully supported by the male dock workers. The story continues through the war when women were given supervisor jobs and even munitions plant jobs. There's unrest throughout the story and poverty galore. But, the heart of the people sustains them.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Hannah Lloyd

    A nice saga about the lives of women and one woman in particular growing up in London before and during the war. An interesting insight into the struggles of life during the war and the complexities of family life for a working class struggling family. Took a while to get going but the story was very lovely and spans many years as the main characters grow older. If you like a tale about love and family life in the war, you’ll love this.

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...
We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.