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Bibliophile | 'The Chocolate Factory' offers historical drama and exciting thrills

The Chocolate Factory
By Mary-Lou Stephens
HarperCollins

It was 1921 when Dorothy Adwell found herself on a ship travelling to the other side of the world. After years of working in the Cadbury factory in Bournville, England, she was on her way to Tasmania.

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Cadbury had decided to establish their second factory in the far south of Australia and Dorothy’s experience during the war years, when the men were away, was invaluable to the enterprise.

A fresh start was just what Dorothy needed after losing her husband in the war and she was caught off-guard when she felt drawn to Thomas on the long sea voyage. He reminded her of the mentally and emotionally damaged husband she had lost.

The Hobart factory was still being constructed when she arrived to begin her 5-year contract, which included a condition that women were not allowed to get married. There was still a lot to be done, including interviewing local girls to work in the new factory and all applicants were interviewed in their homes to get insights as to their family backgrounds.

One such applicant was the daughter of a war widow whose family is struggling. Maisie Greenwood had two younger siblings and her mother’s health was failing. The family was relying on Maisie to bring in an income, and Dorothy saw her potential.

Stephens’ historical novel reveals the values that led the Quaker Cadbury family to establish their chocolate enterprise two hundred years ago in 1824, and the values that were taken to the colonies for a happy and healthy workforce.

While the Cadbury Fry Pascal factory was to provide an economic boost to the island state, not everyone was pleased. Competitors on the mainland – MacRobertsons, Hoadley and Allens – saw them as foreign invaders trying to take over their patch.

As the factory started producing its sweet delights, the story transforms from historical drama to exciting thriller as Dorothy and Maisie get drawn into a plot to steal the recipe of the most popular chocolate in the world – Dairy Milk.

Lezly Herbert


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