The Factory Voice (2009, Coteau Books) was on the longlist for the 2009 ScotiaBank Giller prize and it is easy to see why it was so popular. Set in Fort William (now part
of Thunder Bay) during WWII in a factory that manufactures Mosquito bombers. It is almost entirely staffed by women right from Audrey the diminutive snack cart girl to Muriel MacGregor, the Chief Engineer. It is written in an easy to read, keep-the-pages-turning style with a certain “Corner Gas” style humour; the type that makes you smile or chuckle at different antics or occurrences that pop up or transpire over the length of the book.
There are ‘red’ spies (thought to be employed on the factory floor), escapees from a detainee camp near the factory, love interests, sabotage and a factory talent show to top it all off. All of it written without profanity or gratuitous sex scenes, staying true to the mores of the time.
The author has thoroughly researched factory life in Canada during the war, and her acknowledgements at the back of the book point to many sources, thus adding authenticity to her novel. She states:
When I lived in Thunder Bay during the 1990s, I was involved in a project based on Canadian Car and Foundry, the factory in former-day Fort William, that made war planes. The project involved interviewing ladies who had worked on the line during the war. Their stories never left me, and around 2001, I began to imagine their lives in the aviation plant, and thus began The Factory Voice.
A highly recommended ‘fun’ read, however it has its serious moments too, keeping the ‘fluff’ factor well in check.