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.’