‘Manfacturing’ a Different Angle to the War | Review of “The Factory Voice” by Jeanette Lynes (2009) Coteau Books


War is usually documented from the perspective of the fighting men in the front. But the whole concept affects different elements of society in different ways that is rarely explored. Jeanette Lynes brilliantly explores another side to World War II in her novel The Factory Voice.

Page 8

She is officially a spinster. Thirty-six years old. She has her work, though. Her Master’s degree protracted by polio, but earned nonetheless. She thinks silver linings, thinks clouds, as she clip-clops with her cane along the sidewalk that leads to the main entrance of Fort William Aviation, while the wind bangs her satchel against he wool-covered thigh. Thinks aerodynamics. She grasps the brim of her floppy hat against a sudden gust. Snow falls in hard pellets like pop rivets. Her plum new job begins today. After nine years in a fusty office at Fairchild, she, Muriel McGregor, is now Chief Engineer at this plant with a contract for three hundred northern model Mosquitoes and a sky-high security alert in the wake of recent escapes – subversives – from Angler Detainee Camp. She’d arrived yesterday and, hunkered beside her steamer trunk in he new flat, had inked, in bright red, this milestone in her diary – the Lakehead at last! December 15, 1941. Threshold! Below these words she’d sketched a  horned cartoon devil and added, wickedly, Watch out for subversives and monsters

While Lynes has documented the war cause on the home front, she has gone beyond just telling the story of four women in a factory. Each of the protagonists has some deep secret or obstacle they need to overcome.  And the drama they create or endure makes for a great read.

Page 53

With each step along the cold road home, Florence Voutilainen hates the red scarf more, the vile rag they’ve made her wear since she started working at the factory five weeks ago. the money’s more than swell, it’s salvation itself, but the probation scarf makes it hard for Florence to keep her young chins up – yes, chins – for she’s had, sadly, a double chin since she was twelve years old. when she wears the scarf, people stare at her strange and some line workers call her the big red fish, and this one geezer she has to pass to go to the bathroom likes asking, “Are you a red hun, honey?” And maybe even worse are the factory girls who pretend they don’t see the probation scarf but whose pity rings through loud and clear. At the first red triangle in her overalls pocket. Probation. Florence knows what that spells. Hell’s bells, that spells bottom-feeder.

Lynes has definitely done some strong research into this story. Not only has she captured strong facts about manufacturing aircraft in the Northwestern Ontario region but has absorbed the idioms of the time, making the novel a great reflection of the time.

Page 139

I smoke now.

The snack-wagon theft drove me to it. It made me so blue – what kind of swill-bucket worm would steal Victory Bond tips? – and they make Florence, honest as the month of March is long, wear the red scarf when meanwhile, tip stealers and skunky dealers and wagon peelers are robbing me blind. I’ll tell you what – this factory has become



The Factory Voice by Jeanette Lynes is a brilliant novel which shows a different aspect of World War II. She has well-researched the subject and written a novel that is not only a pleasure to read but very inspirational as well.


Link to Jeanette Lynes’ WordPress blog

Link to Coteau Books’ page for The Factory Voice






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