blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: The Charity of Strangers – Alison Burke*

You can find almost anything in a charity shop, but can you find love?

You can certainly find friendship and there is both laughter and tears ahead when 19yr old Zaffron, lonely, anxious and without direction, meets Blaire Daintry, good-looking, charming, and gay.

Both volunteers in the charity shop, he has a hidden agenda, she has secrets, but they are friends from the start, despite Blaire’s constant sparring with Ida, the stern, good-hearted older volunteer who Zaffron admires. And perhaps Ida has secrets too.

Together with other victims of the city’s housing crisis, Blaire and Zaffron set up a safe and happy home. Secure at last, she tells him of the dreadful incident in her childhood that has marred her life, but not even his total acceptance gives her the confidence to start a relationship with an attractive and decent young army sergeant who falls in love with her.

Is it fear of the truth coming out that holds her back? Or is there some other reason, buried too deep in her heart for her to recognise?

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I was born and grew up in Lancashire, gained several nursing qualifications and had the privilege of a long and varied nursing career, briefly in the Royal Army Nursing Service abroad, mainly in the NHS in UK.

True love and a happy family came my way and now I have the time to read, write and remember.

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My thoughts:

Some years ago I used to be a deputy manager in a charity shop – we had some right characters in the volunteers. There was Mrs K, who acted like she was the Queen and a bit of sweeping or actually learning how to use the till was beneath her. Then there were B and L, two lovely ladies who were best pals and came in together and gossiped their way through one morning every week – they were great fun.

When Zaffron volunteers in her local charity shop, she meets some interesting and quite eccentric people, it took me right back. A lot of volunteers are older, more commonly women than men, and shops always want younger people to help with some of the larger jobs – sorting stock, window displays, culling unsold goods. That’s what I started out doing.

Zaffron is a bit adrift in her life but volunteering boosts her confidence, gives her new friends from different backgrounds and helps her work out what she wants to do. She also takes a GCSE English class, getting some qualifications to help her get ahead.

Her friendship with Blaire is a bit uneven but helps her too – having a confidante allows her to work through some of her past. She really grows as a person through the course of the novel.

I enjoyed reading about her growth and hopes for the future, as well as the cast of the shop. It really reminded me of my time at the charity shop and the overall decency of most humans.

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

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