If you’ve already read ‘Martha’s Girls’ and ‘The Golden Sisters’ I’d love you to let me know what you thought of them by posting  a review or recommendation.

If you haven’t read the books, why not click on  comments below and see if they are the sort of books you would enjoy?

Or you might like to read this review from Anne Hailes from the Irish News – just click on the link below.


Thanks to Carolyn Baines for this first review of ‘Martha’s Girls’

This book keeps the reader’s attention throughout. The characters are brought to life so well on the page that you want to keep reading to find out what happens to them all. I found the musical content particularly interesting and very evocative of the era. My mother in law also enjoyed it tremendously and can’t wait for Alrene’s next novel.

Another from Sarah Bell (transferred from the Book Launch comments)

 I am thoroughly enjoying Martha’s Girls. Knowing Alrene, I knew it would be a fantastic read, but now that I am a third of the way through, I am an awe struck fan!!! The characters have drawn me in, the story is well crafted and keeping me reading until late at night. What a well deserved success!

Another from Margaret Speller (transferred from Book Launch comments)

Hi Alrene, what a fantastic read thoroughly enjoyed it, and brought back so many memories of Belfast, the sayings and humour. Hope you will consider a sequel. Margaret xx


27 thoughts on “REVIEWS

  1. Alrene, thank you for giving me a few days of pleasure reading Martha’s girls! Despite having 4 kids to look after and prepare for Ofsted I read it in a week. I felt like it was my new best friend for a few days. The characters came to life and I felt as if I knew them personally. Looking forward to your next novel!! Jayne x

  2. After buying the book at the launch I couldn’t resist taking a peek, well that was it I was hooked! I read it over 4 days as I sat round the pool on holiday, as I went to bed each night I was wondering what would happen to the girls, how they’d end up and I couldn’t wait to find out. On my last day of reading I began to slow down because I didn’t want it to end. I couldn’t imagine my day without a “fix” of the Goulding sisters, and Martha, they really drew me in. I hope there’s a sequel Alrene. Well done on such a fantastic achievement, really well written, I especially loved how you wove different characters into the story and left bits of the storylines hanging… and then as if by magic everything came together. Your book made me smile a lot and reading it gave me a warm glow but on more than one occasion it made me cry, I defy anyone not to… Best wishes for the future and continued success with your writing. Lisa x

  3. Martha’s Girls was, for me, an evocative and emotional read. Alrene’s research and her own connection with the ‘girls’ and their lives made them very ‘real’. Her knowledge of Belfast’s history and her pride in the city gave this work of ‘fiction’ a genuine authenticity of place and time. By the end of the novel I realised that I had been on an amazingly enjoyable journey and that I did not want it to end. Needless to say, I am waiting in eager anticipation for the next installment of the Golden Girls’ story! I know that Martha’s Girls would make a fabulous film. So, come on Alrene – get busy on the screenplay and the next book! Thank you again for a superbly written and thoroughly enjoyable novel.

  4. A great read Arlene. It’s been the talk of the staffroom… with me quizzing Dan about what happened to the sisters! I’m going to recommend it for my book club’s next read and I eagerly await the next book (or a film version!!).

    • Glad you enjoyed it, Louise. Let me know if your book club decides to read ‘Martha’s Girls’, I’d love to know what they think of it – I’d be happy to come along to talk about the book if you like.

  5. A lovely read.I really felt like one of the family and disappointed when it ended.Hopefully all will be revealed in the next book.Just don’t make me wait ten years!

  6. An absolutely fantastic read, couldn’t put it down! I could really relate to the war element of the novel. All characters really came alive through Alrene’s writing against the wonderful backdrop of historic Ireland. Eagerly awaiting the sequel…

    • Hello Jean. Thanks for your wonderful review. It was great to meet you at Waterstones and chat about the book, especially how you related to Martha herself keeping the family together. The sequel is underway! Best wishes, Alrene.

  7. Just had to say, even though I have not quite finished it how much I am really enjoying Martha’s Girls. As Sheila’s eldest daughter, I think Alrene has done a great job in depicting how their lives and the way of life in Belfast could and would have been. My Grandmother, Mother and Aunts would have been delighted that their story has been told with such thought, humour and warmth. I can’t wait to read the final chapters then post my final thoughts.

  8. Thank you so much for your lovely comments, Bernice. It means a lot that a member of the Goulding family approves of what I’ve tried to do. Memories of Martha and ‘the girls’ are so precious to us but, knowing them, I think we agree that they would be thrilled at being centre stage all over again!

  9. Brilliant!!!! Please please please write another soon, Eagerly awaiting the sequel………… Thanks Alrene

  10. Hi Marilyn, thanks for your ‘brilliant’ review. I’m certainly going to have a go at writing a sequel. Thanks also to everyone on the ‘I grew up in Belfast…’ group on Facebook for showing such an interest in the book. Alrene

  11. To anyone who is looking for a good read, Alrene’s book, Martha’s Girls is excellent, made me cry in the first chapter, always a good sign for a good read, looking forward to the sequel. Well done Alrene.

  12. I have just recently finished Martha’s Girls which I thoroughly enjoyed but which left me wanting more so there has to be a sequel Alrene! I could see this as a TV drama on Sunday nights! It was a very powerful and moving end to the book encompassing all human emotions! It gave us some idea of the horror of those raids and how the people of Belfast rallied round ,coped and carried on. Congratulations again Alrene on a lovely book which I’m sure our grandparents, mothers and aunts are smiling down on. Looking forward to catching up with you at the book signing in Belfast this weekend.

  13. Martha’s Girls was such a heartwarming an enjoyable read. Once I started it I couldn’t put it down – hence it was finished in a weekend. I loved the characters and felt I would know each one of the girls should we have met in Belfast. The hardship of everyday wartime living was brought home to me and I shed a few tears reading about the devastation following the raid on Belfast the night before the wedding. A great read for women of all ages – thank you Sandra for recommending it to me. How about a sequel on what happened to the girls following the war?

  14. Hi Nicola, great to hear from you and thank you for such a lovely review of ‘Martha’s Girls’. I love the idea that you would know the girls if you met them in Belfast! Starting the sequel in the summer.
    Best wishes

  15. Hi MISS!! I finished your book recently and I loved it. It’s so emotional and I think its great that you shared the Goulding sisters story so that everyone could read it. Can’t wait for the sequel and I will defiantly be reading it.

    (p.s: It was fun to find out your first name !!! hehe)

  16. Martha’s Girls was, for me, especially heartfelt as I am Sheila’s youngest daughter. The charming portrayal of my Mum, Aunts and Gran are brought to life on every page evoking fond memories of Mum’s stories. I am so proud at the lovely way you have depicted the Golden Sisters at that time; the Music, Singing and of course the Humour, Mum would have been delighted! The warmth of the characters draw you into their world especially towards the end when the lack of preparation for the Blitz is clearly evident and really comes home to you in the book , powerful stuff!
    A true reflection of their personalities, Martha’s Girls does Belfast proud and captures the courage and innocence of a bygone age.
    Alrene, an honour to have the story told with such empathy, thankyou for such an enjoyable journey. Congratulations once again , look forward to the sequel!

  17. I am overwhelmed by your lovely comments, Noreen and Bernice. From the very beginning I wanted to capture the personalities and family relationships and I’m so glad you feel I got it right. In writing the story, I felt I was spending time with them all again and, in a way, understanding them better as I went with them through that amazing time in their lives – the singing, the fun and of course all the hardships that war brought to everyone in Belfast.

  18. I bought ‘Martha’s Girls’ for my friend, Maggie, and she asked if I’d pass on her comments to you, Alrene, so here goes:
    ‘I loved it. It brought back so many memories of my own family and the time around the war. My dad died young, leaving Mum, like Martha, with a family to bring up on her own. Music was at the centre of family life, and there was so much I could relate to, from the preparations for Christmas dinner to the coats on the beds in winter. The way the girls had to answer to Martha was familiar too – I was the only girl in my family, and definitely had to do as Mum said! The love and warmth of family life shone through the book and made me smile. I felt that I just wanted to pop in and have a cup of tea and a chat with Martha. I really didn’t want the book to end, and I can’t wait for the next one!’

  19. Hi Alrene, I received the book from you at the end of summer as a present for my mum, Marilyn. She has just finished reading the book and thoroughly enjoyed it, as I thought it was a perfect storyline for her and she is looking forward to your next book. Thanks again

    • Hi Jill, lovely to hear from you. I’m so glad Marilyn enjoyed Martha’s Girls. You can tell her that the sequel, The Golden Sisters, will be published in early March. All the best, Alrene.

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