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Wonder Girls

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3.42  ·  Rating Details ·  78 Ratings  ·  15 Reviews
In 1928, Ida Gaze swims the Bristol Channel with the help of her best friend Freda. In 1937, on the instructions of the matron, a nurse at a maternity hospital in London smuggles out an orphaned baby. Now, in Wales, an old lady pieces together these stories and is about to discover the surprising ways in which they link to her own.
Hardcover, 416 pages
Published June 2012 by Simon and Schuster
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Lindsay (Little Reader Library)
'You never know, it might be the start of something,' Ida said. 'Showing people what we can do instead of being told what we can't.'

It is 1937, and this novel opens with an episode during which we meet fourteen-year-old Cecily Stirling cleaning up in a maternity hospital in London, when she is asked by Sister to take a baby out of the hospital. We then meet Cecily again, in 2009, right at the other end of her life, as she makes a new friend, Sarah, and slowly makes new discoveries about the past
...more
Blodeuedd Finland
Jun 05, 2012 Blodeuedd Finland rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
This book takes place in modern times when Cecily thanks to a new friend starts to wonder who a girl in a photo is. All things will come together in the end but the question was how. And that had me wondering.

In 1928 Ida and Freda are 16 and thinking about their futures. Or more like it trying not to think too much about it as parents nag. Ida loves to swim and wants to be free, but being like this she still seems to be the one who has the most to lose. While Freda is a bit more guarded, but at
...more
Bertha Mason
Sep 06, 2013 Bertha Mason rated it it was amazing
I heard the author being interviewed on Woman’s Hour and a Guardian review also implied this was more than a common-or-garden historical saga.
What a lovely, layered book it turned out to be but what offputtingly lowbrow presentation. I appreciate the title “Wonder Girls” might be taken from the newspaper story about the original 1920s swimmers but it gives such a misleadingly lightweight impression. Add in the cover’s THEY BROKE THE MOULD AND CHANGED THE WORLD and you can’t get much crasser tha
...more
Jane
Aug 05, 2012 Jane rated it liked it
Shelves: borrowed
I was smitten as soon as I saw that cover – my home town boasts an art deco bathing pool – and when I finally held the book in my hands and began to turn the pages I was hooked before the story even began, by two wonderful quotations from beloved authors.

“I suppose there is one friend in the life of each of us who seems not a separate person, but an expansion, an interpretation of one’s self, the very meaning of one’s soul.”

Edith Wharton

“Far away in the sunshine are my highest aspirations. I may
...more
Vivienne
Jun 06, 2012 Vivienne rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: lovers of Sarah Waters novels
"You never know, it might be the start of something" Ida said, "Showing people what we can do rather than being told what we can't."

This quote is one of many inspiring statements found in this novel and it reminded me of the courage so many women exhibited during this time to effect positive change that was carried forward to future generations.

The novel's Prologue opens on a bitterly cold November night in 1937 as Cecily Stirling, a young cleaner at a posh London maternity hospital, is asked
...more
Lainy
Nov 15, 2012 Lainy rated it liked it
Time Taken To Read - 2 days

Blurb From Goodreads

Don't follow the crowd,' she'd be telling schoolgirls at the swimming baths. 'Follow your own star and when you have achieved your goal you will have that with you for the rest of your life...'
In 1928, a plucky young Welsh girl named Ida Gaze swims the Bristol Channel with the help of her best friend Freda and the inspiration of her heroine Amelia Earhart.
In 1937, on the instructions of the matron, a young skivvy at a grand maternity hospital in Lon
...more
Marie
Jul 19, 2012 Marie rated it liked it
Wonder Girls follows the stories of a group of women from the 1920s to the present day, from the peace and quiet of a small South Wales seaside town to the hustle and bustle of the Big Smoke. It is loosely divided into two parts, although there is plenty of overlap between the two plot strands. The first half is mainly concerned with Ida, a headstrong teenager who is determined to become the first person ever to swim the treacherous Bristol Channel, and Freda, her rebellious misfit best friend. ...more
Carole
Jun 16, 2013 Carole rated it liked it
I really wanted to like this book....I loved the cover of the two young women wearing bathing suits from the 1920's and I thought the story would be more about them and their swimming lives....but it wasn't and I was so disappointed about that.

It started well ..... with 14 year old Cecily who was working as a cleaner at a rich private clinic in London in 1937. One cold evening the Sister asks her to take away from the clinic the baby of a very poorly mother. But we don't know why and this leaves
...more
Anne
Sep 05, 2012 Anne rated it liked it
I really struggled with Wonder Girls, there were times when the story really engaged me, but there were more times when I became quite bored and found it difficult to keep reading.

The premise of the story is wonderful. Set in the 1920s, with a side-story set in the present day, and concentrating on three young girls; Freda, Ida and Ceci. All three of these girls were ahead of their time, with Ida being the first woman to swim across the dangerous Bristol Channel.

Catherine Jones writes well, she
...more
Verity W
Nov 28, 2013 Verity W rated it liked it
It took me a while to get into this book, but I ended up quite liking it and enjoying it, although I wasn't hugely satisfied with the ending.

For me the book took too long to marry up the different plot strands. For too many pages there didn't seem to be a link between Ceci's actions at the start of the book, the story of the two young girls and Ceci's story now.

But in the end, the book was about a period of history that I am interested in, so I grafted on and was, in the end, fairly satisfied al
...more
Cleo Bannister
Aug 16, 2013 Cleo Bannister rated it liked it
This story starts with brave young Ida Gaze planning to swim the Bristol Channel. At this time, 1929, girls of 16, the age of Ida and her friend Freda, were expected to take meaningless jobs while looking for suitable husbands.

Later, after Freda and Ida move to London other relationships become important and a baby being born becomes the biggest secret of all.

I enjoyed parts of this book but I also found other parts boring. Cici' s voice in part one sounded far from authentic, not helped by the
...more
Geraldine O'Donnell
Sep 17, 2015 Geraldine O'Donnell rated it really liked it
After a shaky start, this book soon enthralled me. The author writes with style, elegance and fluency.
The characters are fascinating and the plot intriguing. It is one if those books that forces the reader to challenge their own perceptions of relationships. It reaches out to our humanity. I am struggling to describe it ,but it is a powerful read and I couldn't put it down. I agree with one review that described it as multi layered. Easily worth 4 stars. Clever stuff.
Charlotte
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Jul 19, 2012
Cathryn Kemp
May 30, 2013 Cathryn Kemp rated it really liked it
Lovely.
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Bloggers Unite™ : Win a copy of Wonder Girls by Catherine Jones 1 6 Jun 18, 2012 05:01AM  
Catherine Jones read English at Cardiff University and Washington State University before training as a journalist. Wonder Girls is her first novel. The title is taken from the headline of a 1929 newspaper which covered the crossing of the treacherous Bristol Channel by swimmer Edith Parnell, a sixteen-year-old schoolgirl from Penarth in Wales, who was hailed as 'The Wonder Girl' for her courageou ...more
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