Anne Bonny #Spotlight Mary Wood & #GuestPost Maggie Mason @Authormary #TheWrongedDaughter & #SandgroniansTrilogy #Blackpool

TWD
The Wronged Daughter by Mary Wood
Review To Follow
Synopsis ~

Perfect for winter nights, The Wronged Daughter by Mary Wood is an emotional and moving novel that reunites old friends and heals old wounds.

Mags has never forgotten the friendship she forged with Flora and Ella, two fellow nurses she served with at the beginning of World War I. Haunted by what she experienced during that time, she fears a reunion with her friends would bring back the horror she’s tried so desperately to suppress.

Now, with her wedding on the horizon, this should be a joyful time for Mags. But the sudden loss of her mother and the constant doubt she harbours surrounding her fiancé, Harold, are marring her happiness.

Mags throws herself into running the family mill, but she’s dealt another aching blow by a betrayal that leaves her reeling. Finding the strength the war had taken from her, she fights back, not realizing the consequences and devastating outcome awaiting her.

Can she pick up the pieces of her life and begin anew?

Extract ~

Chapter One

Mags held on to the back of the chair and stared across at the doctor. What he was saying didn’t seem possible. Not my dear mother? No. Mother has always been strong. ‘I’m sorry, but there’s only tender loving care that can be given, to ease her passing. I can arrange for a nurse to come and stay. She will administer oxygen, when needed, and the medication that I shall prescribe. But I’m afraid Belinda’s weak heart is rapidly failing her.’

Weak heart? When did Mother ever have a weak heart? As Mags watched her father shake the doctor’s hand, the thought rushed through her that he had changed, too. His back was no longer ramrod-straight, and his hair, which had been greying at the temples, was now almost white. Why hadn’t she ever noticed how heavily he leaned on his stick? Suddenly the part of her world that had always felt safe was crumbling. Life here in her beloved Blackburn was lived at a slow pace, even if for the most part she was kept busy running the mill. Always she was surrounded by familiar things, and by people she’d grown up with. Now a big part of that – her family life – was being threatened.

‘Margaret, the doctor is leaving. Where are your manners?’ ‘No, Herbert, don’t admonish her. Margaret has had a shock. You should have told her about her mother’s condition. I counselled both you and Belinda, many times over the years, to do so. I’m sorry, Margaret. I should have insisted that you were told and were therefore prepared for the fact that what is happening now has always been inevitable. Your mother has had a heart condition for a long time. It has been like an unexploded bomb. Anything could have triggered it to fail – and at any time. I’m sorry, truly sorry, but she only has days left to live.’

Mags shook her head. This wasn’t happening. How could she have missed the signs? Yes, Mother was frequently breathless, and her skin and lips often had a blue tinge, but she had said it was an asthmatic condition and was under control. ‘Sit down, Margaret. Let yourself absorb this terrible news. Are you feeling unwell yourself? You seem to have lost a lot of weight, when you could ill afford to lose any.’ Backing into the chair behind her, Mags tried to control the shaking of her limbs. ‘You’ve never spoken of the horrors you must have witnessed in Belgium. I thought you had recovered from them, but something has knocked you back. At the winter ball, with your nice young man by your side – Harold, that’s his name, isn’t it?’ Mags nodded. ‘You seemed your old self. But since returning from your stay at his home, I have seen a change in you each time I have visited your mother.’

Something had indeed knocked Mags back. Something that gave her nightmares. Memories flooded her mind: the war, meeting and forming a strong friendship with the lovely Flora and Ella as they set out, three young girls full of courage and yet needing each other’s support. Then learning how Flora was rejected by her family, and Ella abandoned by hers. And seeing Flora’s happiness as her brother Harold had begun to show her a little affection, and how this had led to Mags meeting Harold herself, and being swept off her feet by him. But then . . . the awful events that led to the image that haunted Mags – seeing Harold and Flora’s mother sprawled on the floor, her head smashed on the fender . . .

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Blackpool’s Angel by Maggie Mason
Review To Follow
Synopsis ~

Blackpool, 1893

Tilly has come a long way from the run-down tenements in which she grew up. She has a small but comfortable home, a loving, handsome husband, two beautiful little’uns – Babs and Beth – and she earns herself a little money weaving wicker baskets. Life is good.

Until the day Tilly returns home to find a policeman standing on her doorstep. Her Arthur won’t be coming home tonight – nor any night – having fallen to his death whilst working on Blackpool tower. Suddenly Tilly is her daughters’ sole protector, and she’s never felt more alone.

With the threat of destitution nipping at their heels, Tilly struggles to make ends meet and keep a roof over her girls’ heads. In a town run by men Tilly has to ask herself what she’s willing to do to keep her family together and safe – and will it be enough?

My Blackpool ~ A Guest Post by Mary Wood/Maggie Mason ~

My Blackpool

I don’t think that many people won’t know that Blackpool is situated in the North West of Great Britain and nestles on the coastline of The Irish Sea. Or not know that it is billed as a fun loving resort to visit with Kiss-Me-Quick hats, Blackpool Rock, The famous Blackpool Tower, and the beautiful Blackpool Illuminations – switched on by a celebrity on 1st September and shining brightly until 5th November every year.

But, there is more to Blackpool. There is a rich history of starting out as a health resort in the mid to late 1800’s, visited by the rich who sought to ‘take the waters’ and then gradually becoming the must-go-to holiday resort for the masses in the days of each county having their own allocated holiday fortnight. So droves would be in the town from places ranging from Manchester to Scotland – each having their own particular week.

And what if I tell you the little known fact that Blackpool was run by gangsters who rivalled the Kray twins during the 30’s to 50’s and beyond. One gang even seeing off the Krays when they sought to take over. Yes, it is true, from black marketeers, to ruling by force, extortion and running drugs, Blackpool has seen it all and can rival Peaky Blinders any day.

The war years for Blackpool were good years. While the country was on its knees, Blackpool thrived. Hundreds of service men and women trained on its shores and it boasted two airfields, one at Squires Gate and one on the site that is now Blackpool Zoo. Besides housing Hawker Sidley Aviation Factory making Lancaster Bombers. This alone, without all the presence of the troops should have made it a target for Hitlers bombers, but no. Blackpool experienced only two bombs dropping on its town – one directed at North Station, causing the deaths of twelve people and one which was thought to be in error, or an off-load before returning to Germany. The second didn’t cause any fatalities. And so, with all the service men and with people still flocking there to get a respite from all they were going through at home, there was quite a boom time for hotel and guesthouses, pubs, theatres and amusements. Why such a good war? Well, the story goes that Hitler had Blackpool in mind to be the playground for his officers, and didn’t want it spoiling. . . Imagine? What would Blackpool have looked like today if Germany – with a Nazi regime ruling, had won? (If the moderate government they have now, well, maybe things would be better? who knows?)

And so, you can see the wealth of material I have to set my stories amongst – besides the glitz and glamour and the tack, there is a golden heart that beats among the Blackpool people – known as Sandgronians (have to have been born here to earn the tittle and can be spelt in three different ways – Sandgownians and Sundgrown-uns, most prefer the latter, but I chose to use the given version for the tittle of my trilogy) Or Blackpudlians (for this title you just need to reside here for a number of years)

When I first moved here in the early eighties, I found the people friendly and outgoing, always ready to help – a real community spirit. Now of course, though this still prevails in the older estates of the town, like all large towns, we have a rich diversity of people and a transient population. Some come to settle, some see the pavements paved with gold, and then are disillusioned and find it a lonely place for them as when the initial fun subsides and reality sets in, it is just like any other town – welcoming, yes, glitzy, yes, but to make your life here and succeed in its main industry – the leisure industry, you have to work hard and long, long hours. There is no gold to sweep up off the pavements.

But for all that, don’t give Blackpool a miss. Put a visit here on your bucket list – it is cheap, cheerful and fun – all three in abundance, with something for everyone. Make it a let-your-hair down visit. Find the kid inside you. Ride the rides at the Pleasure Beach. Walk the Golden Mile, and shoot targets for a prize, knock coconuts off for a cuddly toy, buy the silly hat, and the costume that makes you look as though you have a bare bottom, play bingo, feed the slot machines, eat the candy – oh, and the delicious fish and chips. Visit the shows, the bars, the nightclubs, and spend a half day in our amazing Blackpool Tower, and if you can come during the illuminations, you will truly delight in The Greatest Show on Earth. Above all, be happy – Blackpool is about happiness.

For my Blackpool books I have drawn from the rock-making industry – BLACKPOOL LASS and from the fact that we had many evacuees here during the war – BLACKPOOL’S DAUGHTER. And now, in my new trilogy, THE SANDGRONIAN TRILOGY – the first book being BLACKPOOL’S ANGEL, from the building of the tower, and the gypsy population who started the pleasure beach, and those from its people, who went to war, as we had many heroes, And yes, from the heart-beat of the people who made Blackpool in its beginnings. Hard-working people, who lived hard lives.

My next trilogy will be based in our tradition of a hundred years of biscuit manufacturing. It will have the overall title of THE BISCUIT FACTORY GIRLS and each book will follow the lives of three friends who you will meet. This is planned for late 2020 – early and late 2021.

Maggie, is as busy as ever, and I hope you enjoy her Blackpool Books.

What’s next for Mary Wood/Maggie Mason ~

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Blackpool Sisters By Maggie Mason
Review To Follow
Synopsis ~

1902

Babs and Beth are identical in looks, but very different by nature. Kidnapped by gypsies a decade ago as young girls, Beth has accepted their plight, but Babs has always yearned for their real mother, Tilly, and their beloved hometown of Blackpool.

Convinced the best thing for them is to be reunited with Tilly, Babs tries to persuade Beth to escape. But Beth is too afraid, and Babs knows if she wants to find their mother, she’ll have to do it alone.

1914

Babs’ life has been blighted by misfortune since the night she walked away from her sister, but at last she found peace and purpose as a nurse. She’s never given up hope of finding her family, but now the war is sending her to France, away from them. Or so she believes.

As the Great War rips families apart, is it possible that Babs and Beth will be reunited with each other, and their mother, at last?
*coming 5th December 2019 in Hardback and Ebook*

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Mary Wood/Maggie Mason
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Anne Bonny #BlogTour #BookReview Blackpool Lass by Maggie Mason 5* @Authormary #Saga #Blackpool @LittleBrownUK @littlebookcafe Orphaned and alone, she’ll make her own way in the world. . .

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Blackpool Lass by Maggie Mason
Review Copy
Synopsis:

Orphaned and destitute, will Grace find her own way in the world?

When Grace’s Ma passes away and her Da’s ship sinks with all hands, Grace is utterly alone in the world. She’s sent to an orphanage in Blackpool, but the master has an eye for a pretty young lass. Grace won’t be his victim, so she runs, destitute, into the night.

In Blackpool, she finds a home with the kindly Sheila and Peggy – and meets a lovely airman. But it’s 1938, and war is on the horizon. Will Grace ever find the happiness and home she deserves?

My Review:

The novel opens in Blackpool 1932, we follow protagonist Grace as she tries to navigate a life of hardship and poverty. I will admit that this is possibly the darkest saga, I have EVER read! It really shines the light on the vulnerability of young women in the 1930s/1940s era. The blatant and systemic sexual abuse of young women and the choices they are forced to make.

Family life for Grace changes substantially throughout the years. Whilst various characters are never kind to Grace, she is shown some hope via her friendship with Sheila and Peggy.

Part one of the novel reveals the year 1932-1933. Grace is 13yrs old and already learning to avoid the unwanted advances of her father. Her mother is bedridden and unable to protect her daughter. When Grace’s pa’s ship is sunk off the coast of island; her mother simply loses the will to live. Which places Grace in the unfortunate circumstance of being an orphan.

Grace is taken in by her granny. However, although this offers Grace some structure and stability with schooling. Her granny is forgetful and has ‘episodes’ of forgetfulness. We as readers gather that Grace’s granny is within the stages of the onset of dementia. This being 1933, the level of understanding and support simply isn’t there for Grace or her granny and ultimately this leads Grace taking up residency at Halford House a children’s refugee founded by the Christian fellows of Manchester.

Only at Halford’s house, life is far from Christian. Grace strikes up an instant friendship with fellow orphan Jeanie. When Jeanie informs Grace of EXACTLY how the children’s home is run, she is understandable terrified. This children’s home is the stuff of most people’s WORST nightmares!
‘She couldn’t take in what these girls seemed to accept as normal’

With no hope of a future at the home and no voice to speak out against the conditions. Grace is left with only one option, that of escape. But escape will not come easy to Grace and in her attempt to flee, Jeanie refuses to leave. Which leave Grace carrying not only a dark secret but a feeling of extreme guilt for many years to come. . .

Grace eventually ends up with Sheila and her mother Peggy in Blackpool. The family know just how to hide Grace in case the authorities are searching for her.
‘Grace you’re in a circus family now. Such things as turning a girl into a boy are natural to us’ – Sheila

Part two of the novel covers the year 1938-1939, Grace is blossoming into a beautiful young woman that enjoys regular nights out at the Blackpool tower ballroom. But happiness never lasts long for Grace. I began to wonder how much hardship can one woman survive? It was far from over yet!

The saga is much darker than I assumed. That being said I feel it is possibly very accurate to the way in which children and women have suffered throughout history.
Maggie Mason/Mary wood can certainly spin a yarn and this novel as dark as it is, is my favourite of hers so far! 5*

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Maggie Mason – Mary wood
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My Review of, The Street Orphans by Mary Wood
My review of, Brighter Days Ahead by Mary Wood

Author Bio:

Maggie Mason is a pseudonym of author Mary Wood.

Mary writes historical sagas for Pan Macmillan covering the late nineteenth century to mid-twentieth including both wars. She has 9 books in print and another – THE FORGOTTEN DAUGHTER is released in December.

Under her pen name of Maggie Mason, Mary writes regional sagas set in Blackpool, again covering the time period as above. She has her first THE BLACKPOOL LASS published this week – 20th September.

Mary lives in Blackpool and enjoys researching the history of her home town, coming up with some surprising facts and excited to uncover material for future books.

Born the 13th child of 15 children, Mary experienced life at the raw end. Though she says of her childhood that though poor they were happy and were rich in love.

Mary writes full time now having ended her 9 – 5 working life in the Probation service. This experience gave the grittiness she brings to her writing as Mary says she feels compelled to tell it how it is.

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