The Lumberjills Stronger Together

Author: Joanna Foat

Publisher: Merrow Downs Press

Available: Out now in paperback & eBook

Thank you to Anne Cater, Random Things Tours & Merrow Downs Press for my gifted copy and for having me on the blog tour for this book. My review is based on my experience of the book and any thoughts expressed here are solely mine alone. 

Book Details:

A WW2 saga about adversity, courage, and friendship. When war breaks out, three spirited women must set aside their differences to help Britain win the war. Fighting from the forests, they find new depths of strength and courage. But – when war threatens everything – would you risk your life to save a friend?

 When feisty, bohemian Keeva signs up for war work in the forest, she’s already learnt the hard way that people can’t be trusted. For Rosie, a factory girl from London’s East End, the forest is an escape – but she can’t stop her big mouth getting her into trouble. And Beatrice, a wealthy debutante, wants to use her brain, not ruin her fine hands felling trees. Meanwhile, Lady Denman, director of the Women’s Land Army, battles with bureaucrats in Whitehall ¬to defend the Lumberjills.

As these strong women struggle to survive in a tough men’s world, it seems they really may succeed in their dangerous war work… when a terrible disaster strikes and threatens everything they have achieved.

 The Lumberjills Stronger Together is inspired by the incredible and heroic true stories of the Women’s Timber Corps, a branch of the Women’s Land Army. Author Joanna Foat researched and interviewed sixty women who served as Lumberjills in World War II. These first-hand accounts, and her own passion for wild landscapes, bring a rugged authenticity to this emotionally rousing novel of female courage, strength, and determination.

 A World War II novel for fans of Suzanne Goldring, Nancy Revell and Jennifer Worth.

 My Thoughts:

It’s my pleasure today to share my thoughts with you about Joanna Foat’s debut novel The Lumberjills Stronger Together a truly masterful mixture of facts and fiction, beautifully blended to create a charming, charismatic, colourful and character driven novel focusing on the work and lives of young women from all walks of life; who wanting to ‘do their bit’ for the war effort, bravely joined The Women’s Land Army and found themselves far away from the often urban lives they knew, thrown in at the deep end (or the very cold and muddy end) and they faced undertaking physically demanding tasks, that would make us modern women quake in our Uggs! Never mind them also having to deal with relentless stream of sexism and machismo from the men in charge, who quite frankly couldn’t boil an egg alone! One of the elements of the book that really struck me, was that more than 70 years on from the period of this novel; that patriarchal attitudes towards women’s capabilities really haven’t advanced much, have they, you’ll see precisely what I’m referring to when you read Jo’s book! For those of us with a more feminist persuasion, gird your loins ladies!

As a huge fan of historical fiction, especially novels that concern themselves with the often overlooked roles women held during the war, Jo’s book was a siren call to me and I found it a detailed, dedicated and a vastly illuminating read and I encourage you to get hold of a copy, as soon as possible.

It is very clear to anyone who reads this wonderful novel, that it is impeccably researched and Jo’s love of the human history underpinning the story, shines through with great respect and sincerity, her work is undoubtly a labour of love and given that she has already written a non-fiction book on the subject, the facts are expertly woven into the frame of her novel, as is her admiration (and now mine too) for the real women (many of whom she has interviewed) whose experiences and stories I believe are the source for Jo’s lively, authentic, cast of characters.

The novel is mostly set in at the Forestry Training Camp in the Forest of Dean during 1940 and I can’t wait for you to meet Keeva, Rosie, Beatrice, Edith, Lily & Gladys, each woman both fabulous and flawed in her own way. As you will discover, they all have their own reasons for signing up to the Woman’s Land Army and Jo tells their collective story, from each of their perspectives, providing explanation for their actions and reasons for their behaviours, both the good and the bad as well as providing a tangible sense of the privations and forestry training, her cast endures. I also loved the pithy turn of phrases that Jo has written for her girls; in Chapter 1, page 3 – Keeva is pondering what on earth she has let herself in for after enduring PT at the hands of the patronising, pontificating, pompous Captain Blunt (every time he speaks, I had to grit my teeth, he made my taser finger very twitchy!) Keeva is considering her skills, including taxidermy, but she can’t tell anyone about that. “A girl’s education was one of those things that well-behaved people didn’t discuss, like copulation and lavatories” …I confess, this made me snort with laughter in a very un-lady like manner (Beatrice would not approve)! But I am sure you can see from this quote, why I enjoyed this book so much and also why if fanned the flames of my feminist tendencies!

Jo’s story is filled with drama, duty and delicious details from berets and jodhpurs (who knew how scandalous, they would be considered) to how to fell a tree without dropping it on your head or the vital uses of pit posts! And at it’s heart, the importance of friendship; that irregardless class or education, friendships can grow and they make these women stronger together, able to face, whatever may come next in the circumstances of war and their own lives. It has been a resounding joy to immerse myself in the world of the Lumberjills and I believe Jo has set the novel up for a sequel at the very least, please say it’s so? I need to know, what happens next, to our cohort. This novel is a triumph of historical fiction as far as I’m concerned and one no history fiction fan, should miss! Plus, it’s nearly payday, so you should certainly treat yourself to a copy!

Happy Reading Bookophiles…

About the Author:

Joanna grew up in Surrey, always loved the outdoors, forests, wildlife – climbing trees, helping her Dad work on the car, tinker in the shed and mow the lawn. She also loved chopping up wood for the fire and one year her father bought her an axe for Christmas.

She studied Psychology at Hull University and has an Msc. in Occupational and Organisational Psychology from Surrey University. She now works in communications for environmental organisations.

Joanna first discovered the Lumberjills while working for the Forestry Commission in 2012. With a wild, adventurous spirit and passion for forests, she felt a connection with their story.

 Like most people, she had previously never heard of the women who took on tough ‘men’s work’ foresting and logging during WW2. Since then, she has interviewed and met over 60 women who served as Lumberjills.

 She has given dozens of interviews on TV, radio, in newspapers and magazines and more than 50 public talks to increase recognition of their wartime work. For further information about Joanna Foat and her books visit

Please do read some of the other reviews available on this blog tour.


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