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Saturday, February 4, 2017

Bourbon Creams and Tattered Dreams by Mary Gibson - Book Review Interview

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Review by Suze

Matty is a famous singer from Bermondsey and people lovingly call her the Cockney Canary. Her career in England went well, but when Frank offered to take her to America to make her a big star Matty left everything and everyone she loved behind for fame and fortune. Life there wasn't as good as she expected it to be and things are rapidly going downhill for Matty. Unfortunately the Wall Street Crash makes it more difficult to find funding for movies and Frank changes from a seemingly kind rich man in someone with money issues and anger management problems. He seemed like the ideal man at first, but underneath his smooth exterior he's violent and scary. Matty doesn't feel safe when he's around, so she has no choice but to leave him.

Matty knows Frank isn't done with her. She might have escaped, but he is after her. She's back in Bermondsey and desperate for money. There isn't a place where Matty isn't in danger, but she feels a lot better being with the people she loves. To get back on her feet Matty works as much as she can. She becomes a factory girl once more. Will Frank find her and is there anything that Matty can do to keep herself safe? What will Matty's future look like when there are so many past secrets that prevent her from moving on?

Bourbon Creams and Tattered Dreams is a wonderful impressive story. Matty is strong and talented and her determination is admirable. She also has her flaws and tries to work on them, which makes her a respected and realistic main character. When she met Frank she was naïve. Later she saw what kind of person he actually was, but then it was too late to come out of the relationship unscathed. Matty is a fighter. She stands up for herself and for others and she always finds a way out of a dire situation. She feels at ease in both a factory and a salon and she is loved by many. That doesn't mean everyone knows her well though. Matty and her family have secrets and her life is filled with unexpected twists and turns. Everything about her is intriguing and meaningful and I loved being showed the core of Matty's personality, which is a beautiful and brave.

Matty has quite a bit of chaos in her life. Her days are never the same and they are filled with stress and adrenaline rushes. They make Bourbon Creams and Tattered Dreams gripping and fast-paced compared to other books in the genre. It's a long story and I loved every single page. I instantly became a fan of the solidarity of the people in Bermondsey, which leads to plenty of action and it helps Matty numerous times to rescue herself and others. I loved the connections between Matty and the people around her, they are intriguing and they kept me on the edge of my seat.

Bourbon Creams and Tattered Dreams is set in the period just after last century's big financial crash, which is an historically interesting time. Mary Gibson has clearly done her research and I loved her vivid descriptions of the turbulent way of life in those days. I always learn something when I'm reading her books and that is something I really enjoy. The fascinating history combined with a story about real people with real problems and a lovely romantic ending made me fall in love with this book. I highly recommend this heartwarming story, it has a lot of charm and character.


The Factory Girls is a fantastic series. Each story can be read as a standalone and the books are perfect for readers who love amazing historical fiction. 

About Mary Gibson

Mary Gibson was born and raised in Bermondsey, the setting for her novels, where her family history stretches far back. Her grandmother and great-aunt worked at Pearce Duff’s custard factory, her grandfather was a Royal Field Artillery horse driver during the First World War and her mother worked the evening shift at Peek Frean's biscuit factory.



1) Could you tell three random facts about yourself?

Like my heroine in Bourbon Creams and Tattered Dreams, I once had a stage career! After writing, gardening is my favourite activity. My first novel was not published until I was sixty – a prime example of ‘it’s never too late’!

2) Your book is about an interesting period in history, why have you chosen the financial crash in America as a topic?

 I wanted to tell Matty Gilbie’s story - a character we left in Custard Tarts and Broken Hearts on the brink of music hall stardom, wondering whether she should go to America. I decided to pick up her career at its height, when everything is about to go wrong for her. The Wall Street crash paralleled what happens in Matty’s life, a global crash to match the personal crash. Matty is about to fall from the great heights she’s achieved and the crash precipitates that fall. The two events are intertwined. The cockney canary is like a bird crashing to earth and the novel is really the story of how far she will fall. Will she crash to the earth or will she swoop upwards again into the sky by the end of the novel?

3) Could you tell a bit more about the Bermondsey community?

The Bermondsey I write about, during the early twentieth century, was a village-like, working class, riverside area in south east London. Crammed within its 1300 acres, factories abounded: Crosse and Blackwell’s pickles, Southwell’s and Hartley’s jam, Lipton’s tea, Pearce Duffs custard and blancmange; Peek Frean’s and Jacobs biscuits; as well as Shuttleworth’s chocolate factory . No wonder the place was called London’s Larder! There were numerous smelly industries. Breweries, heavy with malty aromas - Courage’s beer; Sarson’s vinegar; vile smelling tanneries such as Garner’s and Bevington’s; the Alaska fur factory. People lived close to the factories and docks where they worked and many rarely left the borough. There was a very distinct community feel and neighbours were more like family. Doors were left unlocked because there was so little to steal and although poverty abounded people were generous with what they had. The closure of the docks in the late sixties sounded the death knell for Bermondsey factories and within a decade most of them had either closed or moved out of London. The docks had fed the industries and the industries had fostered a community, unchanged for hundreds of years. Only as it disappeared did I realize its worth, the close knit, supportive way of life, based upon shared work, shared hardships and extended families all concentrated in a small area at the heart of London was gone forever. This was the vanished way of life which I have tried to capture in my novels.

4) You write about women who have many struggles in their lives, where do you find their stories and what inspires you to write about these topics?

My heroines are almost always inspired by the women in my family. It is their strength in living through poverty and difficult times during the first half of the twentieth century which inspired me to write the novels. From an early age I was a great ‘ear-wigger’! and picked up their stories and struggles as I grew up. Then later in life, my parents put together a wonderful reminiscence archive of pictorial, written and oral material, which I’ve drawn on again and again. Nellie Gilbie in my first novel is based on my maternal grandmother, Millie Coleman in Jam & Roses is a mixture of my own maternal grandmother and an elderly relative’s mother. In Gunner Girls and Fighter Boys I used my parents wartime diaries and letters and in Bourbon Creams I’ve melded a number of real life characters together for my heroine. I like to draw on a variety of real sources to give my fiction an authentic feel.

5) What do you like most about historical fiction?

I’ve always loved historical fiction. I was first hooked by the wonderful novels of Rosemary Sutcliff and I still admire her writing style. I love to lose myself in a period, whether its peopled by Anglo-Saxon warriors or Tudor princesses or Victorian scullery maids.

6) Could you describe the main characters of Bourbon Creams and Tattered Dreams in six words each?

Matty Gilbie, my heroine - talented, determined, headstrong, beautiful, brave, loving.

Eliza Gilbie, Matty’s sister – intelligent, independent, principled, passionate, guilt-ridden, regretful,

Nellie Gilbie, Matty’s sister-in-law – strong, straight-talking, loyal, steadfast, forgiving, generous

Frank Rossi, Matty’s mobster boyfriend – charming, handsome, silver-tongued, cunning, vengeful, vicious

7) Where do you read and where do you write?

These days most of my reading is research for my novels, which I do wherever I find myself, so long as I’m able to take notes I find I can lose myself in the research. If it’s reading for pleasure, then it will usually be in bed or in the garden when the weather’s fine. I am fortunate to have a small study where I can shut myself away to write. But during the course of the day I like to move away from desk to a sofa where I can look up from the screen and see my favourite winter flowering cherry tree.

8) What's the best writing advice you've ever been given?

 ‘If you can write 1000 words a day for 9 months you cannot not have a novel by the end of it.’ I think it was Elmore Leonard.

9) What are your plans for the future?

I’m looking forward to seeing my fifth Bermondsey novel published next year!

The other Factory Girls books


  1. This sounds very interesting. This is a new author to me, I will definitely check this book out!

  2. I love your book covers, they are beautiful artworks :)

  3. This certainly sounds unlike anything I have read before.

  4. This certainly sounds unlike anything I have read before.

  5. I love historical fiction and stories with strong women, so this sounds like a winner!

  6. Reading in a garden sounds like a nice way to spend a day. This sounds like a great series.

  7. Sounds like an engaging series!


  8. Love the way this sounds! Also love that cover.

  9. I love Bourbon Creams, think it's the chocoholic in me.

  10. The Factory Girls seens to be a fantastic series.

  11. I love the review. I'm definitely going to read this series. Sounds interesting and I love reading in that eta.
    Carol L
    Lucky4750 (at) aol (dot) com

  12. I love the review. I'm definitely going to read this series. Sounds interesting and I love reading in that eta.
    Carol L
    Lucky4750 (at) aol (dot) com

  13. This series raises my interest. Historical fiction is my favourite genre.

  14. This looks like an interesting book!!

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  16. Mary's titles are wonderful and the fact that she shines a light onto a way of life now gone forever is commendable.

  17. A lot of these creams will contain ingredients such as alpha hydroxy acid or retinol. If you see these ingredients it is important that you use these creams at night because both of these ingredients can make your skin more sensitive to the sun.
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  18. Sounds like a fantastic book and series to discover.Love the book cover