review: The Aro Street Girls, by Lyndsay Campbell

This is a beautifully constructed tale, of cover_aro street girls
how the First World War affected the lives of a family in Aro Street, Wellington, New Zealand.
Author Lyndsay Campbell has meticulously checked background details for accuracy, before releasing this for the commemoration of Armistice Day, 2018. An engrossing read, tear-making at times, full of tenderness and the culture and atmosphere of the day.

It is the quest for information about a pendant, made by Rose in 1986 of her Uncle Walter, which had belonged to her aunt, his sister Kathleen (Kathy), that begins the tale of the family’s, and their friends’, experiences of the time.

The family is wide, and after the prologue, we meet distant relatives as events unfold in real time. Political opinion touches the family, as does societal expectations and norms. Some of the family are dutiful to the cause, others seek to put family loyalty first; this in itself gives rise to differences, defiance, and has disastrous effect on people around the girls.

We meet characters in Wellington who are, well… characters – the jeweler, the parson, the clairvoyant from Russia, and workmates of the family. We see reunion of family members who’ve not corresponded in years.

A brief romance, then correspondence between Kathy in Aro Street and Freddie who is now on the front, delayed by the constraints of post services in wartime. But her love for Freddie is constant, and we are given hope they will be happy ever after.

So too do we hope for her sister Belle (Rose’s mother) who dares to stretch the limits until an unfortunate incident occurs; for her elder brother George – the “wayward” but loving brother who evades conscription. For Walter, who dreams of becoming a war pilot, but is thwarted by his young age and the end of the war – to realise how lucky he is to be able to be alive. For their mother, Violet, and father Oscar, struggling to make ends meet yet still uphold their family and Christian duties to aid the less fortunate.

Altogether, this a touching tribute to the people of Wellington and NZ in general who ‘gave’ fathers, sons, and brothers to a war that belonged to Britain – “King and Country” – and in many minds, not to New Zealand.

The Aro Street Girls is a credit to the author, and a tribute to those who made such sacrifices.

Published by Junction Publishing, (c) Lyndsay Campbell 2018 and

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Available here

Lyndsay can be found at
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