Penny on Parade – Penny Taylor & Gill McKnight

I don’t usually read nonfiction. I mostly read to escape reality, so fiction is my go-to. However, I’m awfully glad I made an exception for this book. It’s based on a true story, written from notes taken by Penny Taylor (a pseudonym). Names, places and other details have been changed for confidentiality, but it doesn’t take away from the feeling that most of it, if not all, is true, even though it reads as easily as fiction.

When her stepfather won’t pay her fees to go to university and become a Physical Education teacher, the only other way Penny can think of to get out of Darlington and get the education she wants is through the British Army. Penny on Parade tells of her first six weeks of training in the early 1970s. When she first arrives at the training camp, Penny is a brash yet determined eighteen-year-old. Over the course of those six weeks, she’ll find out who she is and who she wants to be, discover what comes naturally and what is worth the effort, have a lot of more or less good sex and fall in love for the first time.

I had to remind myself a few times that the story was that of a very young adult, which explains why she sometimes seems oblivious to the risks she’s taking, trying to be a happy baby dyke in the army. Watching her grow, as a woman, as a soldier and as a leader was rather interesting, which is why the end felt like such a let-down. I really wish there had been an epilogue or at least a few sentences to let the reader know how Penny’s life went after her first weeks of training. So now I’m hoping for a sequel…


Penny on Parade @ amazon

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