“A New Day at Paradise Pottery” by Lynn Johnson is a delightful and heart-warming historical tale that will captivate readers with its inspiring story based entirely in the Potteries. It begins just before the start of WW1.
This book takes readers on a journey seen through the eyes of Martha on her journey from a young teenager just at the beginning of her transition from schoolgirl to worker into adulthood. Lynn manages to paint a captivating picture about the poverty of the time, attitudes towards woman and pregnancy outside of marriage. It looks at the aspirations of young women of the time and how limited their aspirations are. They are about to be transformed, with attitude changes due to the impact of war on society in Great Britain. It follows her story and examines the relationship she has with her aggressive alcoholic father, who had gone to the Boar war as a professional soldier and returned back to his growing family as an angry man, who takes all his frustrations out on the whole family, It examines how it impacts the whole family including her younger sister and older twin brothers who have become Miners It looks at the landscape of the Potteries as Pits and Pots were the main employers.
So, whilst the story in essence is the story of a young girl developing into adulthood during the years of WW1. The story examines woman’s attitudes to marriage and love and touches on restrictions and poverty. The story details the role of poor sanitation, overcrowding, the overwhelming control that men have due to the social attitudes of the day. It also examines the role that men played in controlling the narrative. Interestingly, Lynn also carefully crafts a visual picture of the social deprivation surrounding the workers of the area but manages to weave in into the background the impact of the rise of the temperance society and the belief that alcohol was causing significant harm and how this affects her wider family as her grandfather is a public house landlord and her father is also driven to drink, which make his violence worse.
To that end, the backdrop of Martha’s formative years is blighted by this. The effect on her terrified mother who cannot thrive, fearful of the beatings and belittling options of her husband.
The story revolves around Martha, a young girl who has always had a passion for art and pottery. With her vivid imagination and determination, by the end of the book she transforms ordinary clay into extraordinary works of art. She begins as a transfer decorator and gets paid on a system called Piecework. She begins to get rejections which affects her pay packet. On finding this out she confronts the supervisor who suggests that should she be ‘nice ‘to him her work will pass. As a 17-year-old girl she is horrified by this and so turns him down. It is no surprise then that she is sacked as they start letting staff go. She then meets up with an old school friend who tells her about the factory where she works and the vacancies they have there. She goes for the interview. The interview at Paradise Pottery. her love for pottery and design shines through her creations, and her enthusiasm is truly infectious. She gets taken on. The story then follows her progress and the effects that WW1 begins. As the men start leaving for war, the impact on the factory and the woman left behind creates opportunities for Martha and her friends. She does however meet a man who although 7 years older than her, piques her interest. But as he is off the war coupled with the age difference scuppers the budding romance.
As Martha embarks on her new career at Paradise Pottery, the reader follows her journey of self-discovery, friendship, and the joy of pursuing her dreams. The author beautifully portrays the emotional rollercoaster of exploring new possibilities and overcoming obstacles along the way. Readers will be inspired by Martha’s resilience and her unwavering dedication to her craft.
One of the standout features of this book is the vibrant and powerful descriptive word illustrations. It is also extremely interesting to read a book that talks about places from where you live. Lynn Johnson brings the world of Paradise Pottery to life with vivid dialogue, area details, and expressive character creation and development. The details Lynn has researched certainly perfectly complement’s the essence of the time, capturing of Martha’s love for pottery and the beauty of her creations juxtaposed with the war of the Potteries people and their spirit. The pictures she paints of Hanley, Tunstall and the other towns make it a really interesting read for people like me who are local. However this doesn’t mean that readers from other areas won’t enjoy it just as much.
To everyone’s horror there are also some key characters who either do not come back from the war or who come with life-changing injuries both physical and mental s including PTSD. (although in those that day called shellshock)
The theme of friendship is also emphasized in the story, as she forms lasting connections with other like-minded employees at Paradise Pottery. Through collaboration and support, she and her new friends learn valuable lessons about teamwork, encouragement, and the importance of celebrating each other’s successes. Of course, as the story progresses the unfolding of the love story between Martha and her co -worker is a gentle journey where love, trust, belief and support change from friendship into love.
While “A New Day at Paradise Pottery” is a delightful read overall, there were moments where the pacing felt slightly rushed. Some readers might have appreciated a bit more depth in certain scenes and character development. However, the positive messages of determination, imagination, and the pursuit of passion ultimately shine through.
Overall, “A New Day at Paradise Pottery” is a charming book that encourages creative thinking, celebrates friendship and inspires readers to follow their dreams. Lynn Johnson’s storytelling prowess, coupled with the enchanting word portraits of the fabric of the day. It was a thoroughly enjoyable read. I personally loved it and found it very difficult to put down.
To buy Lynn’s latest book go to https://www.amazon.co.uk/New-Day-Paradise-Pottery-heart-warming/dp/1804360406/ref=asc_df_1804360406/?tag=googshopuk-21&linkCode=df0&hvadid=658793610472&hvpos=&hvnetw=g&hvrand=5742815088602363573&hvpone=&hvptwo=&hvqmt=&hvdev=c&hvdvcmdl=&hvlocint=&hvlocphy=9046469&hvtargid=pla-2196717689705&psc=1&th=1&psc=1&gclid=CjwKCAjws9ipBhB1EiwAccEi1LhaWy0kQoGjkEYN2v0wPfMeSw4rJm55h_9TMBhP5GmC727449HlYxoCmUMQAvD_BwE