Tuesday, 19 January 2021
Monday, 16 November 2020
A Christmas Wedding
I’m delighted, but also slightly sad to be the last stop on the blog tour for this bookAs it’s the last instalment in a wonderful series about a group of girls working in the department store Liberty’s in London during WWII. It’s been no secret that I have loved this series and hope that when I receive my copy of the book, I don’t cry to too much at the end! The lovely author has provided an extract for me and I shall review as soon as I can. Enjoy this last part and you can read reviews of the previous books on the blog.
As the brightly lit window came into view it was all Dorothy Banwell could do not to run to it and press her face against the glass like a child. The Norwegian Spruce that took centre stage was easily the largest and most beautiful tree she had ever seen. Craning her neck to drink it all in as it towered above her Dorothy, or Dot as she was better known, felt alive with Christmas magic as she peered at the colourful glass ornaments, each one twinkling under the lights. In between the ornaments, small candles perched as straight as soldiers and decorated with glittering aluminium strands instead of the usual silver – the only real sign war had affected the country. Right at the top, with all the elegance you would expect from a window display at Liberty’s department store, stood a large gold star, beaming all the way across Argyll Street like a beacon and welcoming everyone inside from the bustling London streets.
“It’s beautiful”, a voice beside her breathed.
At the sound of her old friend, Ivy Penhaligon, Dot turned around and smiled. “I’ve always loved this shop. My mother used to bring me when me and Olive were nippers to look at the window displays”
Ivy’s eyes roamed the display greedily before she looked down at her daughter. ‘What do you think Helen?’
The four-year old said nothing for a moment, her hand pressed into Dot‘s now, seemingly as transfixed as she was by the display.
‘Pretty,’ she declared eventually.
Dot smiled down at her, ‘it is pretty, but not as pretty as you’ll look on your wedding day.’
Dot laughed at the compliment. ‘I hope you’re not saying you’re going to have me looking like a Christmas tree with this dress you’re making me.’
Ivy giggled and Helen followed suit, finding the adults laughter infectious.
‘How long have you known me, Dorothy Banwell?’ Ivy asked with a raised eyebrow.
Dot thought for a moment. ‘A good four years now.’
‘Precisely.’ Ivy agreed. ‘And in that time have I ever made you do anything that would make you look daft?’Pretending to think again for a moment, Dot paused, before catching Ivy‘s twinkling eye.
‘On reflection no. Though there was that time I came to stay with you and Kenneth shortly before Helen‘s first birthday and you did ask me if I wanted Corporation Pop. I thought it was something fancy, but then when I said yes you both burst out laughing and handed me a glass of water.’
Ivy threw her head back and laughed, her blonde hair glistening under the shop lights. ‘I’d forgotten that. That‘a always been one of Kenneth‘a favourite jokes.’Dot pursed her lips and gave Ivy a mock glare.
‘And I’ve never forgotten it either.’
Ivy ran her tongue across her teeth. ‘As I recall you told us how you felt at the time.’
I’ve never been backwards in coming forwards,’Dot said with a smile, ‘especially with old friends.
‘Best friends, IIvy said softly, before looking back at the window. ‘It is beautiful’
‘It is,’ Dot confirmed.
‘And don’t they sell fabrics in there?’ Ivy continued.
A gnawing feeling began to grow in Dot‘s stomach. ‘They do’
‘Well, as I’m in charge of making your wedding dress how about we go in and have a look at what they’ve got?’
Alarm pulsed through Dot. ‘We can’t go in there.’
‘Because, it‘a not for the likes of us! My mother would have a fit.’
Ivy frowned. ‘What’s your mother got to do with it?’
You know what Mother‘s like,’Dot said with a sigh. ‘She’d start saying we weren’t good enough for the likes of in there. That we weren’t posh enough, that we had no business, that we should know our place. I mean she used to bring me to look at the displays but she never took us inside.’
‘So you’ve never actually been in this shop?’Ivy asked, the cool December wind whipping around her neck. She looked down at Helen who was still staring at the window transfixed. ‘Helen, would you like to go inside?’
Wordlessly Helen nodded, the excitement in her eyes shining as brightly as the gold star on top of the tree.
‘Looks like that’s settled then,’Ivy said with a shrug. ‘Let’s go.’
As Dot looked into the little girl’s copper eyes that seemed almost as familiar to her as her own she smiled. The last person she wanted to let down was this little girl. ‘All right,’ she said at last. ‘But I’m warning you, if we get thrown out because we’re not good enough, it’s your fault not mine.’
With that Ivy flashed Dot a warm, genuine grin. ‘When will you start believing in yourself Dorothy Banwell? Honestly, it’s a good job you’ve got me as your best friend. I dread to think how you’d cope without me.’
Saturday, 17 October 2020
The Deptford girls
When I saw the title of this book I knew I had to read it as I come from South East London myself, but I was a bit apprehensive as this is the fourth book in a series. I was assured by the author that it could be read as a stand-alone and I wasn’t disappointed! I got into it from page one and thoroughly enjoyed it! You can read my review below.
A country at war. Friends in trouble. A fascist traitor. Stepping up can only lead Lily to danger.
Lily, along with her friends Bronwyn, Marion, Edith and a Ruth work in a depot in Deptford, south east London. There is heightened security around the depot and rumour has it that the current shipment contains guns.
Mr Biggerstaff is a new member of the team. Lily is instantly wary of him and is sure he is up to no good. She is going to have to keep her wits about her where he is concerned.
Marion has troubles of her own. She has been dumped by her boyfriend and even worse, finds herself pregnant. What is she going to do and how is she going to tell her mum?
Edith has her husband Sidney home from the war injured with a head injury. She makes any excuse to be at work or with the girls; is there something she is hiding from them about her husband?
Ruth is a jewish woman with three children who have just been evacuated to the country. She also seems to be making excuses about her husband not being around.
It seems all the girls are keeping secrets...
I really enjoyed this book as it was so easy to get into with very likable characters and with short chapters I whizzed through it. I would definitely read books by this author again.
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About the Author
Patricia lives in Cambridge, England with her husband Rick. She first wrote non-fiction, mainly self-help books, but became inspired to try her hand at fiction. In addition to writing she volunteers for a local museum and Addenbrookes Hospital.
Wednesday, 14 October 2020
Louisa Drew is a photographer who is commissioned to take photos of the contents of Clewer Hall for its' sale so that the family can go and start a new life in India. Poor Louisa lost her first husband Bertie during WWI and also her twin sons in the Spanish flu epidemic of 1918.
Now married again to Edwin and expecting another child, Louisa is trying to earn a living to keep their heads above water, so taking a job away from home for 10 days is a welcome break from the unhappiness she feels towards her second husband and her miserable existence since the death of her beloved Bertie and her sons.
As Louisa starts to take pictures of the contents of the house, she finds out that a séance is going to be recreated that first took place in 1896. She is introduced to the Medium, Ada, who, when she realizes Louisa is heavily pregnant, warns her to leave the house as soon as she can. Louisa is made of stern stuff and just a bit stubborn! So decides to stay to finish her commission.
George is a journalist from London who also arrives at Clewer Hall to report on the séance and is full of admiration for Louisa because she is an independent, married woman earning a living in an era when this was a rarity. Little does he yet know that Louisa would rather work than be at home (also in London) with Edwin, who she is not in love with.
Obviously, things don't go to plan and strange things start to happen for Louisa and with the warnings she receives about leaving the house, she is determined to find out why there is such a dark, oppressive atmosphere at Clewer Hall.
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and really hope that the author decides to write more. Very easy reading with short chapters that left you wanting to read a bit more at the end of every one!
Thank you so much to the author for sending me a copy to review.
Saturday, 10 October 2020
Thursday, 17 September 2020
ARI Successful and charming, Ari Onassis is a man who promises her the world. Yet soon after they marry, Jackie learns that his heart also belongs to another…
MARIA A beautiful, famed singer, Maria Callas is in love with Jackie’s new husband – and she isn’t going to give up.
Little by little, Jackie and Maria’s lives begin to tangle in a dangerous web of secrets, scandal and lies. But with both women determined to make Ari theirs alone, the stakes are high. How far will they go for true love?
We all know the story of Jackie Kennedy and what happened to her first husband, John F Kennedy, but I must admit, I didn't know much about Maria Callas. I knew she was an opera singer, but apart from that, not much else!
Maria Callas was the long term girlfriend of Greek shipping billionaire, Aristotle Onassis. She longed for the day they would marry, but as he was already married to his first wife, Tina and had two young children with her, his promises to leave her and marry Maria never seemed to materialise. It was as though "Ari" wanted his cake and to eat it too!!
When Jackie Kennedy is left widowed with two young children, she never thought she would find love again, but when she is charmed by Aristotle Onassis and after a whirlwind romance they marry, Maria is left broken hearted and falls back on the only thing she can to make ends meet. Singing.
This is a fantastically written book with so many factual features that it almost feels like a biography. I always end up googling people/places after I have read Gill's books because she leaves me so fascinated that I want to read more!
Another masterpiece from Gill Paul that I just couldn't put down and soon passed on to a friend to read. Anyone who loves historical fiction will adore this book.
Sunday, 16 August 2020
They call them custard tarts - the girls who work at the Pearce Duff custard and jelly factory. But now the custard tarts are up in arms, striking for better conditions. Among them is Nellie Clark, trying to hold her family together after the death of her mother. She has the most desperate struggle to make ends meet, often going hungry to feed her little brothers.
Two men vie for Nellie's love. One is flamboyant, confident and a chancer. The other is steady, truthful and loyal. But the choice is not as easy as it might seem.
Looming over them all - over Bermondsey, over the factory, over the custard tarts and their lives and loves - is the shadow of the First World War. And that will change everything and everyone.
To buy a copy of this on Amazon click here