Why Readers Love Joan

Posted on 22nd February, 2024

Joan is a much-loved character in the Railway Girls series – and has been a viewpoint character no fewer than five times to date. So what is it about her that appeals to readers?


Here are some of the comments made about her in reviews from the early books:


“…kind-hearted Joan… I loved the relationship between her and her sister…”


"She is held back by her ultra-strict upbringingHow I wish she could break free of Gran!”


“Joan seems to be hiding something, even as her storyline and her personality take shape.”


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I’ve got to be careful how much I say here, because I mustn’t give away any spoilers – in fact, that’s why I chose to quote from reviews of the first three books in the series (The Railway Girls, Secrets of the Railway Girls and The Railway Girls in Love), in all of which Joan is one of the viewpoint characters.




Joan has had a tough upbringing. She and her sister were brought up by their grandmother, a stern, judgemental woman. As far as Gran is concerned, Joan is very much the second-best granddaughter. Even so, Joan feels no jealousy or resentment towards Letitia. The two sisters truly love one another and provide each other with friendship and emotional support. Joan admires her clever sister, whose aptitude for maths has gained her a special wartime job.



Joan’s first job on the railways is as a clerk in an office – much to her disappointment. She so wanted to be given a role on a station – ticket-collector or porter or announcer – or on a train – but she ended up as a clerk. Worse, though, she has to cope with having a dirty old man as her boss, something that brings Dot and Cordelia together as friends when they sort out this nasty problem for her. It gave me great satisfaction to write that particular scene!


As a volunteer first aider, taking care of the injured during air raids, Joan starts to grow as a person and her innate courage begins to show itself. Joan doesn’t just have physical courage – she has moral courage too, and this is tested to the limit by that mention of ‘hiding something’ that appeared in the review snippet quoted above. Even she has no idea of just how far she will have to go to protect her family when the past comes back to haunt them.



Joan is an important part of the Railway girls’ group, so why do the others value her? They admire the quiet courage that sees her cope with personal tragedy and they are delighted to see the happiness she eventually finds in her personal life, a happiness they feel she very much deserves. She is a staunch friend too – as Margaret in particular can testify. And while she has a stubborn streak, she will always dig deep into her thoughts and feelings and do what she knows to be right.


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Book 1

The Railway Girls


Book 2

Secrets of the Railway Girls


Book 3

The Railway Girls in Love


Book 4

Christmas with the Railway Girls



Book 5


Hope for the Railway Girls


Book 6

A Christmas Miracle for the Railway Girls


Book 7

Courage of the Railway Girls


Book 8

Christmas Wishes for the Railway Girls


Book 9

Springtime with the Railway Girls



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