When The Sun Shines by Grace M. Jolliffe has an eye-catching blurb on its cover: “Buy Now, Pay Later.” It almost sounds like advice for life rather than a shopping option. This is a prequel novella to The Sunshine Girl in Jolliffe’s Liverpool series.
I assume that this story is set somewhere in the 1970s. It is never stated in the story, but the time is given elsewhere in the series title. Josie is living a life that seems rather typical for many millennials today. Twenty years old and still living with her parents and two brothers in a too small house; Josie can’t afford her own apartment. The meager wages she makes as a shop clerk are enough to help her parents with bills with very little left over to do her favorite thing, shop for clothes and shoes. That doesn’t bother her too much as she can pay off her purchases in small installments over an indeterminate period.
Working and family life leave her little time for a social life. Friday night at The Ship, her favorite pub, defines her weekly entertainment. Sitting in the pub with friends Frankie and Mary while comparing the week’s experiences, Josie wonders just when her ship will come in. There was a relationship long in the past with Kevin, but that relationship went south when he got another girl pregnant. She is open to new relationships if they are built on trust; Kevin taught her that. Frankie’s father had suddenly left his family for another woman, a friend’s experience that made Josie wary of meeting married men who claim to be single.
Things seemed to be looking up when Josie met Mick one Friday night. He didn’t rush things as he arranged dates several days in the future. He must have a good job; he drove a car. None of the guys Josie dated had ever had a car. He always took her home at an acceptable, early hour and explained that he had to prepare for work the next day. Mick did not push too fast as far as physical intimacy; Josie thought he might go a bit faster. Did she trust him? Not yet, there seemed to be something a bit off; she had yet to determine what it was.
The interesting thing about this story, as with other Jolliffe work, is the authentic language of Liverpool and the feeling of life almost on the edge of “not enough.” In one example, the family could not go out on a once-a-week visit to a chips shop because they needed to replace a son’s jacket which he had outgrown.
As a prequel novella, readers should expect a cliffhanger ending. There is one. Still, the entertaining writing encouraged me to give this novella four Amazon stars.