Anne Bonny #BookReview Those Who Are Loved by @VicHislop Victoria Hislop 4* #NewRelease #Historical #ww2Fiction #ww2 #Athens #Greece #GreekHistory @headlinepg

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Those Who Are Loved by Victoria Hislop
Review Copy

Synopsis ~

The gripping new novel by Sunday Times Number One bestseller Victoria Hislop is set against the backdrop of the German occupation of Greece, the subsequent civil war and a military dictatorship, all of which left deep scars.

Athens 1941. After decades of political uncertainty, Greece is polarised between Right- and Left-wing views when the Germans invade.
Fifteen-year-old Themis comes from a family divided by these political differences. The Nazi occupation deepens the fault-lines between those she loves just as it reduces Greece to destitution. She watches friends die in the ensuing famine and is moved to commit acts of resistance.

In the civil war that follows the end of the occupation, Themis joins the Communist army, where she experiences the extremes of love and hatred and the paradoxes presented by a war in which Greek fights Greek.

Eventually imprisoned on the infamous islands of exile, Makronisos and then Trikeri, Themis encounters another prisoner whose life will entwine with her own in ways neither can foresee.
And finds she must weigh her principles against her desire to escape and live.

As she looks back on her life, Themis realises how tightly the personal and political can become entangled. While some wounds heal, others deepen.

This powerful new novel from Number One bestseller Victoria Hislop sheds light on the complexity and trauma of Greece’s past and weaves it into the epic tale of an ordinary woman compelled to live an extraordinary life.

My Review ~

Those Who Are Loved is an incredibly deep and emotive novel. It is quite lengthy at 496 pages and you do become immersed in the story of Themis Stavridus. We follow her from a young girl full of hope and optimism, to a young woman forced to make and stand by difficult choices. Eventually we return to Themis as an elderly lady reflecting to on her life and the repercussions of the war on their lives as a family.
Whilst I do see this as a ‘holiday read’ I would urge readers to prepare themselves for deep research, ww2 history and the fight between the far-left & far-right in 1940s Greece.

The novel opens in Athens 2016 as the family of four generations, gather for the birthday of Themis Stavridis. As Themis reflects on the current political climate in Greece. Of Homelessness/poverty, the rise of fascism and the anti-immigrant rhetoric. She is consumed with her own past, that she has never previously spoken of…
‘Her life story was not an heirloom, but it was all she had’

‘Once they were seated, Themis began to talk’

We are then rapidly transported to 1930’s Athens and the home of Themis’s childhood. Here we are introduced to her mother Eleftheria and her three siblings Thanasis, Panos and Margarita. Their father Pavlos is a merchant shipping worker and spends large periods away from the family home. They live in a simple and yet modest home on Antigoris Street. But for Themis and her siblings, this will also prove to be a time of great change as they end up being raised by their grandmother Kyria Koralis.
Kyria does her best to raise the children, but she is fighting a tough battle due to the economic depression hitting Greece. The children however, grow up surrounded by maternal love from her.

The novel jumps ahead 10yrs to Oct 1940. Greece is now vulnerable to the German and Italian army’s and potential invasion. The political and wartime climate is explained within the novel. It is done through the characters experiences, and therefore I did not feel like I was sat in a history lesson. Despite taking on a through amount of historical information. When it comes to far-left and far-right sympathies, the siblings are very divided. With Thanasis and Margarita able to accept the far-rights values. Whilst brother Panos sympathises with the far-left of the Soviets.
Themis is unsure to which side she feels a political alliance. That is until she meets school friend and refugee Fotini. Who has been raised in a different way of life, with a different set of politics.

‘Hitler doesn’t respect this country anymore than Mussolini does’

9th April 1941 – Greece becomes an occupied territory of the German Reich. The Nazi top brass blame the British Whilst Thanasis and Margarita are willing to accept this. It is not them who will truly pay the price for Nazi ideology. For Fotini’s mother loses her job, the family begin to starve and before long Fotini is wasting away.

‘Germany was a friend of Greece, not a foe’

Themis’s coming of age in occupied Greece, see her deal with a wide-range of emotional problems. Panos joins the resistance and before long it is Greek vs Greek, occupier vs communist. There are protests and violence. A  resulting massacre at the village of Kalavryta, showing the full horror of the Nazi regime.

The novel continues to tell the story of Themis’s family through the Nazi occupation, to the arrival of the British and eventually to the new government, bringing new hope.
It was easy to put yourself in the teenage siblings situations and walk in their shoes. Destruction of their home town, uncertainty and political divisions between the citizens.
When Themis vows to join the communists. her membership opens her eyes to the full extent of life in the far-left.

‘This is the harmony I want to restore to our country’

we continue on our journey with Themis, through her imprisonment at the most brutal island prison. We also see 1954, 1967, 1976, 1985 and ultimately back to the present day of 2016. With the long drawn out story told, Themis’s family is now fully aware of her past. When I finished the title, I suddenly felt bereft without the attachment to the novel and Themis’s story. I felt as though I had been with the family through their ups and downs. Their hardships and rare moments they had known  peace. It is funny sometimes how you can finish a near 500 page book and still want more.

This my first title read by the author and will definitely not be my last! 4*

VH
Victoria Hislop
Website
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Anne Bonny Top 5 #ww2Fiction #Historical picks from the TBR pile @VirginiaBaily @swlittlefield @CescaWrites @jingwrites Katie Quinn @ThatSadieJones @FleetReads @WmMorrowBooks @CorvusBooks @OneworldNews @vintagebooks

***Here are some books from my ww2 fiction TBR pile, that I am DYING to read. In no particular order***

the fourth shore
The Fourth Shore by Virginia Baily
Available in HB/Ebook/Audible – PB March 2020
Synopsis ~

The Fourth Shore: the sliver of fertile land along the Tripoli coast, the ‘lost’ territory Mussolini promised to reclaim for Italy. Which is how, in 1929, seventeen-year-old Liliana Cattaneo arrives there from Rome on a ship filled with eager colonists to join her brother and his new wife.

Liliana is sure she was on the brink of a great adventure, but what awaits her is not the Mediterranean idyll of cocktail parties, smart dances, dashing officers and romantic intrigues she had imagined. Instead she finds a world of persecution, violence, repression, corruption and deceptions both great and small.

A child of fascist Italy, blown about by the winds of fascism and Catholicism, Liliana becomes enmeshed in a dark liaison which has terrible consequences both for her and those she loves most.

The Fourth Shore is the engrossing and intensely poignant story of Liliana’s journey from Rome to Tripoli to a north London suburb where, as plain Lily Jones, she begins to uncover a secret she has buried so deeply that even she is far from certain what it is.

The daisy children
The Daisy Children by Sofia Grant
Available in PB/Ebook/Audible
Synopsis ~

Inspired by true events, in Sofia Grant’s powerfully moving new novel a young woman peels back the layers of her family’s history, discovering a tragedy in the past that explains so much of the present. This unforgettable story is one of hope, healing, and the discovery of truth.

Sometimes the untold stories of the past are the ones we need to hear…
When Katie Garrett gets the unexpected news that she’s received an inheritance from the grandmother she hardly knew, it couldn’t have come at a better time. She flees Boston—and her increasingly estranged husband—and travels to rural Texas.
There, she’s greeted by her distant cousin Scarlett. Friendly, flamboyant, eternally optimistic, Scarlett couldn’t be more different from sensible Katie. And as they begin the task of sorting through their grandmother’s possessions, they discover letters and photographs that uncover the hidden truths about their shared history, and the long-forgotten tragedy of the New London school explosion of 1937 that binds them.

the silent hours
The Silent Hours by Cesca Major
Available in PB/Ebook/Audible
Synopsis ~

An epic, sweeping tale set in wartime France, The Silent Hours follows three people whose lives are bound together, before war tears them apart:

Adeline, a mute who takes refuge in a convent, haunted by memories of her past;

Sebastian, a young Jewish banker whose love for the beautiful Isabelle will change the course of his life dramatically;

Tristin, a nine-year-old boy, whose family moves from Paris to settle in a village that is seemingly untouched by war.

Beautifully wrought, utterly compelling and with a shocking true story at its core, The Silent Hours is an unforgettable portrayal of love and loss.

how we disappeared
How We Disappeared by Jing-Jing Lee
Available in HB/Ebook/Audible – PB April 2020
Synopsis ~

The heart-rending story of survival and endurance in Japanese-occupied Singapore

Singapore, 1942.
As Japanese troops sweep down Malaysia and into Singapore, a village is ransacked, leaving only three survivors, one of them a tiny child.

In a neighbouring village, seventeen-year-old Wang Di is bundled into the back of a troop carrier and shipped off to a Japanese military brothel. After sixty years of silence, what she saw and experienced there still haunts her.

And in the year 2000, twelve-year-old Kevin is sitting beside his ailing grandmother when he overhears a mumbled confession. He sets out to discover the truth, wherever it might lead, setting in motion a chain of events he could never have foreseen.

Weaving together two timelines and two very big secrets, this evocative, profoundly moving and utterly dazzling debut opens a window on a little-known period of history, and heralds the arrival of a thrilling new literary star.

the alice network
The Alice Network by Katie Quinn
Available in HB/Ebook/Audible/PB
Synopsis ~

In an enthralling new historical novel from national bestselling author Kate Quinn, two women—a female spy recruited to the real-life Alice Network in France during World War I and an unconventional American socialite searching for her cousin in 1947—are brought together in a mesmerizing story of courage and redemption.

1947. In the chaotic aftermath of World War II, American college girl Charlie St. Clair is pregnant, unmarried, and on the verge of being thrown out of her very proper family. She’s also nursing a desperate hope that her beloved cousin Rose, who disappeared in Nazi-occupied France during the war, might still be alive. So when Charlie’s parents banish her to Europe to have her “little problem” taken care of, Charlie breaks free and heads to London, determined to find out what happened to the cousin she loves like a sister.

1915. A year into the Great War, Eve Gardiner burns to join the fight against the Germans and unexpectedly gets her chance when she’s recruited to work as a spy. Sent into enemy-occupied France, she’s trained by the mesmerizing Lili, the “Queen of Spies”, who manages a vast network of secret agents right under the enemy’s nose.
Thirty years later, haunted by the betrayal that ultimately tore apart the Alice Network, Eve spends her days drunk and secluded in her crumbling London house. Until a young American barges in uttering a name Eve hasn’t heard in decades, and launches them both on a mission to find the truth…no matter where it leads.

**EXTRA PICK**
Not ww2 fiction, but set post-ww2 in Cyprus. I also CANNOT resist this epic cover!
small wars
Small Wars by Sadie Jones
Available in PB/Ebook
Synopsis ~

Hal Treherne is a soldier on the brink of a brilliant career. Impatient to see action, his other commitment in life is to his beloved wife, Clara, and when Hal is transferred to Cyprus she and their twin daughters join him. But the island is in the heat of the emergency; the British are defending the colony against Cypriots – schoolboys and armed guerillas alike – battling for union with Greece.

Clara shares Hal’s sense of duty and honour; she knows she must settle down, make the best of things, smile. But action changes Hal, and the atrocities he is drawn into take him not only further from Clara but himself, too; a betrayal that is only the first step down a dark path.

Anne Bonny #BlogTour #Extract The Wartime Midwives by Daisy Styles #NewRelease #HistFic #Saga #WW2Fiction #ww2

coverThe Wartime Midwives by Daisy Styles
Review To Follow

Synopsis ~

In the dark days of war a new hope is born . . .
1939.

Mary Vale, a grand and imposing Mother & Baby Home, sits on the edge of the Lake District. Its doors are open to unmarried women who come to hide their condition and find sanctuary.

Women from all walks of life pass through Mary Vale, from beautiful waitress Emily, whose boyfriend has vanished without trace, to young Isla, cast out by her wealthy family after her first year at university goes horribly wrong.

Awaiting them is Nurse Ada and Sister Anne who work tirelessly to aid the mothers and safely deliver the babies. But the unforgiving Matron and Head of Governors, Captain Percival, have other, more sinister, ideas.

As war looms the women at Mary Vale must pull together for the sake of themselves and their babies and Ada and Anne must help protect their patients, no matter what the cost.

Extract ~ 

In her college digs in Durham, Isla Ross took small sips of
water from the glass she clutched in her trembling hand.
‘God!’ she gasped. ‘If only I could stop being sick …’
She was trying to pack her belongings into a suitcase in
order to vacate her room, which her crabby landlady was
keen to repossess.
‘I’ll be off soon,’ Isla had promised.
Secretly, she’d been hanging on for longer than was
sensible for one purpose
only –
to talk to Professor Wiley
about her condition.
‘God!’ She gagged again, as her stomach seemed to rise
into her mouth.
For somebody who hadn’t eaten for what seemed like
days, how could she keep on vomiting like this? After the
bout had passed, Isla almost collapsed on her narrow single bed; staring up at the ceiling, she tried to stop the tears
welling up in her eyes. What a mess she’d made. What an
unbelievable bloody fool she’d been. Up until she’d been
twenty-one years old, she’d never even as much as kissed
a boy; then, at the beginning of her second year at Dur

ham, she’d fallen head over heels madly in love with her
middle-aged English professor, who’d literally seduced
her with the poetry of William Shakespeare.
All through her first year at college her friends had tried
to involve Isla in their social life, which centred around the local dancehall. To start with, just to show willing, she’d
gone along with their giggling plans, allowed herself to be
made up and dressed up in borrowed crêpe dresses. At the
dancehall she’d drunk only shandy, while her friends
downed gin and orange, and she’d actually hidden in the
ladies’ toilet when the dance band struck up.
All Isla had ever wanted to do was to read books and
study English literature: Shakespeare, Byron, Keats, Chaucer, the Brontës, Jane Austen, T. S. Eliot. A star pupil at
Benenden, she’d come to Durham to
study – not to dance and drink and find a boyfriend. She appreciated her friends’ joie devivre (the last thing she wanted was for them to think
she was an intellectual snob), but she really did detest those
Saturday nights at the dancehall, where she actively avoided
men rather than enticed them. When her friends finally
realized how shy and retiring Isla was in public, they stopped
asking her to join them, for which Isla was truly grateful.
And that’s how her student life had been: quiet, peaceful,
studious and
happy – until Professor Keith Wiley had laid
eyes on the cleverest student in his tutorial group. Isla Ross,
with her silver-blue, dreamy Highland eyes and luscious pink lips set in a sweet, heart shaped face framed by curling silver-blonde hair. She had a soft young body, with curves in all the right places, and distinctly strong, muscular legs
because of all the hockey matches she’d played at boarding
school. Though innocent Isla didn’t know it, Keith Wiley
was famous for his dalliances with clever, pretty girls, whom
he charmed with compliments and attention. Nobody could
have been more infatuated than Isla when Wiley critiqued
her essays or selected her to read passages from Shakespeare
and Marlowe in her lilting Scottish voice.

When the professor had asked Isla if she’d like to
accompany him to the theatre to see a local production of The Tempest, Isla had almost swooned in delight. They’d met on a snowy night and walked into the town centre, the Professor gallantly taking her arm in order to stop her from slipping on the icy roads.
The production was mediocre, but Isla thought it was sublime; she knew all the
great lines from the play and whispered them under her
breath as she watched the actors on stage. ‘We are such
stuff as dreams are made on,’ she murmured.
Taking her hand and softly kissing her fingertips, Keith
Wiley had concluded the line for her: ‘And our little life is rounded with a sleep.’
Hearing his deep Northern voice in her ear, Isla’s pulse
raced and her heart beat so fast she was sure
he would hear it. During the interval they drank sherry at the bar
and discussed the performance; Isla had never been so
happy, so alert and so in tune with another human being. He might be double her age and her tutor, but she was quite incapable of
resisting his kisses; in fact, she welcomed them with an intensity that surprised her. ‘Goodnight, dearest girl,’ he’d murmured as they parted, with
the snow still falling softly around them. ‘Come and see
me in my rooms tomorrow; we have so much to discuss.’
Weak at the knees, Isla had agreed and gone to bed in
a haze of romantic infatuation.‘And
look where that got me!’ she thought bitterly now.

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Anne Bonny Q&A with #Author of I Spy Bletchley Park George Stratford #ww2Fiction #HistoricalFiction #Indie

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I Spy Bletchley Park by George Stratford

Synopsis ~

BLETCHLEY PARK IN PERIL : Deeply embittered by the government’s seizure of her financially ruined father’s Buckinghamshire estate, Lady Margaret Pugh swears revenge on all those in Westminster. With World War II looming, Hermann Goering then makes her an irresistible offer if she will agree to spy for him. Before long, the many curious comings and goings at nearby Bletchley Park capture Margaret’s attention. And as she starts putting all of the pieces together, so Britain’s most vital war secret becomes increasingly in peril of a devastating bombing raid. In response to this suspected threat, a young working-class WAAF is thrust untrained into the world of counter-espionage. Thanks to a prodigious musical talent, Betty Hall is uniquely placed to infiltrate Margaret’s private life. But matters suddenly escalate, and the fate of Bletchley Park soon hangs entirely on Betty becoming ever more deeply and dangerously involved. With countless lives at stake, two most determined women find themselves fighting a very private war.

Q&A:

Q) For the readers, can you talk us through your background and the synopsis of your new novel?

A) Some time ago I wrote a fictional tribute (BURIED PASTS) to my Canadian father who was a pilot with RAF Bomber Command. He was killed whilst on his 28th mission when I was just six weeks old. That proved to be very cathartic, so for my new novel I decided that I should pay the same kind of literary tribute to my mother, who served as a WAAF at Bletchley Park for two years during WWII. I SPY BLETCHLEY PARK is the result.
A great deal has been written and filmed about BP, but with a theme almost always centring on the codebreakers themselves. Given the priceless nature of their work, this is perfectly understandable. At the same time, there were huge numbers of less featured people (mostly female) providing priceless support to the ‘stars of the show’, especially the WAAFs and WRENs stationed there. Surely, I reasoned, it was time for a compelling story to be written featuring one of these in a heroic role.
Step forward Mum, or in this case, my fictional WAAF Betty Hall.

Q) Can you talk us through the journey from idea to writing to publication?

A) With my main protagonist already in place, the next thing I needed was of course someone to provide the opposition and conflict. In this case, a spy threatening to expose the secret of Bletchley Park to the enemy. That gave birth to Lady Margaret Pugh.
I’m very much a ‘pantster’ when it comes to writing novels, and in the process of creating Margaret, I soon found her taking over the vast majority of the opening chapters. “Hey, move aside. This is Betty’s novel,” I was tempted to shout on several occasions, but I allowed her to have her head anyway. And I’m so glad I did. There’s something uniquely fascinating about putting together a well fleshed out baddie. Especially when they are many long streets away from being all bad. In fact, as the story building process accelerated from a canter into a full-on gallop to the finishing post, I found that I had a far blacker villain in Richard Forest/Forst for readers to boo and hiss at.

As for research, following a visit to the current Bletchley Park site, I was fortunate enough to encounter John Bladen, one of the dedicated volunteers regularly working there. Via telephone conversations and emails, he then continued to supply me with a host of invaluable information and advice on numerous matters of detail. Every question I threw at him was answered in full, and nothing was ever too much trouble. I owe him an enormous debt of gratitude.

During the writing, I sent files of two or three chapters at a time to people I know to gauge their reaction. Their feedback proved highly useful, especially remarks concerning female psyche. Ruth Maxwell Greenwood was especially helpful in this area. With the novel finally completed, I then sent PDFs of the full story to people who I knew for certain would be brutally truthful in their opinion. No polishing of egos from these guys. Good reviews from those who just want to be kind, although well intentioned, would have been no help at all at this stage.

With a big thumbs-up from 95% of the selected ‘brutal ones’, I then jumped aboard the same old agent submission trail yet again. But this time bursting with confidence. This novel, I felt certain, had everything that these self-appointed gatekeepers to publishing’s Chosen Land could wish for. Indeed, one very major agency stated quite openly that I SPY BLETCHLEY PARK indeed ‘stood out’ from the many they receive. I take it they meant this in a favourable way. That said, no request for further reading was made. The same could be said for the dozen or so others I approached as well.

In a slightly ironic twist, my mother used to type all of the manuscripts for prolific best-selling author John Creasy way back in the 1950s and 60s. Mr Creasy collected an acknowledged world record of 743 rejection slips before going on to publish nearly 600 books under 25 pseudonyms and achieve worldwide sales in excess of 80 million. Oh yes, and he also founded the renowned British Crime Writers Association. That’s true inspiration! That’s why, even at 75 years old and after literally decades of agent rejections, it’s still my mission in life to keep battering away in an attempt to break down those traditional publishing walls. Meanwhile, my current books can continue doing the talking for me as KDP releases. Whatever else you may think of Amazon and their self-published titles, at least they have provided readers with the opportunity to judge each work put out there for themselves and comment publicly on it.

One thing is for certain. Seeing those five-star reviews against your novel and knowing that those readers have thoroughly enjoyed it is by far the most rewarding feeling of all. Even if the lit agents don’t agree with them.

Q) What are your favourite authors and recommended reads?

A) There are many authors I’ve enjoyed spending some time with, but Ken Follett and Stephen King are the two that I currently look forward to sitting down with most of all. Thank goodness they are both prolific.

Ken Follet’s historical novels, be they set during WWII or way back in the Middle Ages, are always a great read. And so well researched as well. The Kingsbridge series starting with PILLARS OF THE EARTH is a fine example of the latter, while THE EYE OF THE NEEDLE is WWII fiction at its very best. In a more modern era, THE HAMMER OF EDEN is one of my favourites. If my own writing style has subconsciously been influenced by anyone, it is most probably Mr Follett.

As for Stephen King, my opinion that he was largely a writer of supernatural and horror stories was absolutely blown away when I first read his 2012 work, MR MERCEDES. Although still written in his own easily identifiable style, this is pure crime and detective fiction. So too is the second book in the trilogy featuring retired detective Bill Hodges, FINDERS KEEPERS. Only in the concluding novel, END OF WATCH, does the theme stray back slightly into Mr King’s previously established ground. And even then, it seems to fit in seamlessly.

Q) What were your childhood/teenage favourite reads?

A) After moving on from the usual comics of the time such as the Eagle and the Hotspur, I soon became an enormous fan of the JUST WILLIAM books. For me, Richmal Crompton captured perfectly the essence of a spirited 11 year-old boy of the time. No real electronic gadgets for William or the other kids of that era; entertainment was nearly all in the imagination. Master Brown could quite easily manufacture an invisibility cloak out of an old sheet, or perhaps a futuristic ray gun that turned people into blancmange from a stick and a couple of empty tin cans.

I was at first absolutely astonished when I discovered that the author was in fact a woman. How could Miss Crompton possibly have such a deep understanding of what made William tick? I wondered. How was she able to make him so utterly believable? Only later did I fully realise that, apart from a huge dollop of writing talent, the answer almost certainly lay in an ever-alert eye and ear whenever in the company of young ones. Or to give it another name, plain old-fashioned research.

Q) What has been your favourite moment of being a published author?

A) My first published novel was a paperback titled IN THE LONG RUN. It was released by Citron Press in 2000, when I was working as a copywriter at Saatchi & Saatchi Advertising in Charlotte Street, London.

The International Chairman of Saatchi at that time, Alan Bishop, so enjoyed the novel that he arranged a launch party for me at the company’s in-house pub, the Pregnant Man. Former world record holder for the mile and current BBC athletics presenter, Steve Cram, was sent an advance copy and he too was enthusiastic. So much so, he offered to write a foreword for the book, and agreed to be guest of honour at the official launch.
It was a truly magical evening, packed to the rafters and with many old friends from my days back in Bournemouth coming up to attend. The novel very quickly went on to sell like those often-cited hot cakes. It was sitting solidly at number one in Citron’s best-selling list, and I was able to walk in and see it sitting on the shelves of Europe’s largest book store, Waterstones in Piccadilly. I was indeed living in my own little dream world for a short time.

The news that Citron Press had gone into liquidation burst my bubble big-time. Worse still, after the main creditors had been paid, there would be no royalties for any of the company’s authors.

Yup! What goes up certainly does come crashing back down again. But nobody can take away from me that magical evening in the Pregnant Man. It will live with me for the rest of my life. I can never thank Alan Bishop enough for that. You are a true gentleman, sir.

Q) Who has been your source of support/encouragement, throughout the writing process?

A) No one individual had been with me throughout. A good number of years ago when I was still trying to get IN THE LONG RUN published, I did meet up with Frederick E Smith (author of the 633 SQUADRON novels) two or three times at his house. He was extremely kind and helpful, especially as I had just knocked on his door out of the blue like a cold calling salesman on the first visit. He even provided me with tea and biscuits.
Another fine gentleman, to be sure.

Other than that, I think I should refer you back to the second question here. Although we never actually met, John Creasy and his sheer determination to fulfil his dream of becoming a best-selling author is still a constant source of encouragement. Mum spoke of him quite often, and I feel like I almost knew him well. In a final strange twist, Mr Creasy died on June the 9th – the same date as my birthday.

Me kindle scout pic
George Stratford
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Anne Bonny Q&A #Extract with #Author of Wartime Sweethearts @LolaJaye #ww2Fiction #Saga #HistoricalFiction #Romance @EburyPublishing @PenguinUKBooks

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Wartime Sweethearts by Lola Jaye

Synopsis ~

An English Girl. An American Soldier. A twin secret…

When Rose meets American GI William there is no denying the attraction between them…And even though she knows her family would not approve of her relationship with a black soldier, they can’t help but fall in love.

However Rose has a secret of her own and when war separates the sweethearts before she can confide in William, it is Rose who will have to deal with the consequences…

From the author of Orphan Sisters comes a moving and unique saga which gives a voice to the untold tales of our past.

Q&A ~

Q) For the readers, can you talk us through your background and the synopsis of your new novel?

A) Hello there! I’ve been a published author for ten years now and I’m also a registered psychotherapist. I’ve written five novels and a self-help book and was born and raised in London, England. I’ve lived in Nigeria and up until recently, the United States. My books have been translated into several languages including Korean, German and Serbian. I love writing saga novels and Orphan Sisters was released in 2017 charting the fictional journey of an immigrant family and the issues faced in post war London. My current book Wartime Sweethearts is out now:

When Rose meets American GI William there is no denying the attraction between them… And even though she knows her family would not approve of her relationship with a black soldier, they can’t help but fall in love. However Rose has a secret of her own and when war separates the sweethearts before she can confide in William, it is Rose who will have to deal with the consequences…

Q) Can you talk us through the journey from idea, to writing and finally to publication?

A) I have an idea. Then the characters are born. If these characters start to invade my thoughts, it’s time to tell their story! I became interested in learning more about the large numbers of babies born to African American solders and British women during WWII after listening to a segment on BBC Radio 4 Women’s Hour. Brown babies was the term used and I felt I needed to tell their ‘forgotten’ story.
When I write, I not only want to entertain, but I also like to weave in the contributions made by people of colour throughout the years. For example, it isn’t widely known that during both World Wars there were a significant number of African, Caribbean and Asian soldiers who volunteered and were recruited to all branches of the British armed forces. Although the story of William and Rose focuses on the African American allies, the cover for Wartime Sweethearts at least offers us a rare glimpse…

Q) What are your favourite authors and recommended reads?

A) I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
Maya Angelou was/is a phenomenal woman. There’s something quite beautiful about the prose and raw emotion which sings from each page of this book.

The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold
I needed to be in a certain place mentally to really take on this book due to the harrowing subject matter, so it stayed on my shelf for over five years. When I finally opened the first page, I was hooked.

Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden
Every single page of this book felt like part of a feast I wanted to devour slowly. I was there with the characters too, living and breathing the life of a Japanese geisha and not sat on my couch on a rainy afternoon!

Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
I read this at a time I had newly arrived in America, so this novel felt like perfect timing. It contained so many references which gave way to a number of ‘aha’ moments like, what it meant to be an immigrant living in America- themes I recognised and could relate to on a personal level.

Q) What were your childhood/teenage favourite reads?

A) Like millions of others, I enjoyed the Flowers in the Attic books by Virginia Andrews and the naughtiness of Judy Blume in Forever. Pre teen me also loved books by Rosa Guy who was a phenomenon because for the very first time, I was reading about characters who looked like me. One of her books which particularly springs to mind is Edith Jackson, about a 17 year old black girl trying to make her way in life.

Q) What are you currently reading?

A) I am just about to start reading Tell me your Secret by Dorothy Koomson -who made be feel very special by sending me a proof!

Q) What has been your favourite moment of being a published author?

A) When a reader emails to tell me how much my writing has touched their lives.

Q) Who has been your source of support/encouragement, throughout the writing process?

A) It helps to have a list of writer friends who are familiar with the neurosis, solitude and basic weirdness that come with being a writer!

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Lola Jaye
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Wartime Sweethearts on Goodreads

Extract ~

Chapter One

1944

She had never experienced this type of pain before. ‘Is the baby all right?’ she said in between deepened breaths and a succession of quick pants. Wasn’t the pain part supposed to be over by now? Why was she feeling as if she still needed to push something heavy out of her? When she was little, she’d accidentally walked in on Mrs Bunting giving birth next door. Rose had been mesmerised at the aftermath of bright red blood splattered across the bed sheets and a fully formed, yet purple and reddened baby wailing in its mother’s arms. The sight of something called the afterbirth, pooling out of her neighbour’s nether regions a little while later, was not what she’d expected either because no one had actually mentioned that part. Perhaps this was what was next for her too – she just couldn’t believe how much pain she’d endured so far, or that this beautifully formed, wailing infant now being tended to by her sister Flora, as Marigold, the oldest of the three, looked on, had actually come from her. In the blurred lines between pain and exhaustion, Rose was fighting pangs of envy at the time they’d already got to spend with the baby. Her first child. A little girl! She couldn’t wait to be alone with her and stare into her

perfect face. Absorb every single inch of this new person she’d got to know over the last eight months while safely cocooned in her stomach. She’d only managed a few seconds of a glimpse when Flora had placed her onto her chest right after she’d first entered this world. Their heartbeats had instantly connected and she felt an intoxication of love for this little being who had bombarded its way into her life at a time when the outside world had felt so uncertain. ‘She is a beauty!’ encouraged Marigold, standing at the end of Rose’s bent legs, an uncharacteristic smile spread all over her wide face. The earlier embarrassment at her sisters viewing parts of her she herself had never seen, had long since disappeared. She’d never felt more grateful for their presence nor more at ease. Marigold had already birthed two of her own as well as taking in a couple of evacuees at the start of the war, while Flora was just a natural at being organised; the clever one of the family. ‘Got a good pair of lungs on her too!’ said Marigold. ‘Time to give this beauty a nice clean and you can hold her,’ said Flora in that voice adults seemed to have hidden most of the time, yet regularly pulled out for babies and little children. Perhaps Rose herself would talk that way to the little one from now on as she fed her, combed her hair (when she had some) and bathed her. Rose couldn’t wait for these instances that would define her new role as a mother. At the age of thirty-one and already married for six years, she’d been waiting for this moment her entire life. This was her chance to do better as a wife and finally be able to prove to Pete, her husband, that she wasn’t a bad wife for not giving him a child or whatever other reason he would come up with. He’d often remind her he could find better among the dead cows at the knackers yard where he worked. He probably could. She wasn’t that much of a good wife. She sometimes burnt the food even though they were living on precious government rations and at times let the dust settle on the sideboards where

their wedding photo and ornaments took pride of place. Pete hated dust, said it made him cough. When one day he placed both hands around her neck until she couldn’t help but splutter in panic, he simply said, ‘Now you know what it feels like,’ before releasing her. She was a bad wife, but this, motherhood, she could do. She’d lost her mother Lillian at a very young age and she and her sisters and brother had been raised by a succession of aunties and neighbours while her father, Albert, sat in a chair smoking a pipe and stroking his moustache, lamenting the loss of the only woman he’d ever loved. Just like he still did every single day of his miserable life. Out of a line-up of three girls and the much longed for son, Donald, who finally came along and, with him, a change that would affect their lives forever, Rose could admit she’d been the favoured one. Flora the middle girl was the forever spinster with ‘too many big ideas’ and ‘just not ladylike enough’, according to their father, with Marigold the plain and ‘big’ one. At least Rose was looked at as the one ‘pretty enough’ to secure a decent husband who would earn enough money to contribute to the family pot. Rose had wanted that too. Hoping at least for a husband who could be a better father than hers and perhaps be more like her little brother Donald who at least took an interest in her life. What she’d ended up with was a man who did odd jobs when he could, refused to contribute anything to the Baker family and stayed away at least three nights a week, showing up drunk and reeking of other women. This baby was so important. Five months ago, she’d stood between Pete and the wall, his hand tightened around her wrist, his thigh jammed in the space between her legs, his spittle landing on her cheek as he reeled
off all the reasons why he should leave and never come back. Just like he usually did after a row. When, finally, she had landed him with the biggest reason of all – ‘I’m having a baby, that’s why!’ – her eyes had stamped shut as she waited for what was next.

Instead, he’d gently pulled her into his arms, punching the air instead of her face and cheering with happiness. And for the next five months as the baby grew inside her, Pete began to behave differently; rubbing her swollen feet and letting her know almost every day that he had never loved her more. She thought – had believed – he would never hit her again and especially not with his baby inside her. So now it was only his words that stung and usually when he was too drunk to care. Marigold said this was good, an improvement, yet for Rose his words sometimes felt like punches. Rose’s new fear was that Pete would be upset the baby wasn’t a boy. He may have said he didn’t mind what she produced and wasn’t fussed, but Pete said a lot of things. Having promised never to hit her again (many times but especially since she was pregnant), he’d recently succumbed with a sharp tug of her chestnut-coloured hair just after breakfast, the morning he left to work at the knackers yard four days ago. ‘Look what you made me do!’ he’d whined. Her hand had gently caressed the side of her head, she imagined would be a pinky red, as her other hand smoothed over her swollen belly. Thankfully, her baby was safe inside, moving around like normal. Seconds later, he was apologising as he pulled a pack of cigarettes and matches from his pocket. ‘Anyway, you’ve got those meddling sisters of yours, you don’t need me around. I don’t know why you’re moaning about me going away, anyway. Having a baby is a women’s thing, so it’s best I get back when it’s all done and with a bit of cash in me pocket. You’re both going to need feeding.’ He lit the match and placed it to the tip of the cigarette. ‘You’ve still got another month and I’ll be back just before or on the dot. Don’t you worry.’ He’d dragged on the cigarette as she imagined the instant joy she’d feel in stubbing it right into his cheek. The sweet little mite was crying wildly now, a reassuring sound as Rose felt an enormous need to push again.

She screamed louder than she ever thought she could. Louder than when Pete had first struck her that second hour into their wedding. Louder than when he had ‘accidentally’ twisted her wrist when they had rowed about the woman at number twenty-three. ‘Ahhhhhh!’ Marigold looked on, open-mouthed as Flora, always the most organised and sensible, placed the new baby into Marigold’s arms. ‘Please stop this pain – ahhhhhh!’ Rose’s screams were louder than when she’d been told her mother was never coming home after giving birth to Donald. What if a similar fate awaited her too? The thought had rushed through her mind many times and she was extremely angry with herself for not making it to the hospital on time for her own emergency. But as Marigold had pointed out helpfully or unhelpfully, their mother had died giving birth in a hospital anyway. ‘Marigold, hold that baby tight over there,’ said Flora with a warning tone to her voice. ‘Something’s happening here!’ Rose held her tears inside, the pain preventing such a luxury. This wasn’t meant to be happening. This was it. She too was about to go the way of their mother and never see her child again. ‘Oh my . . . No . . . This can’t be!’ shouted Flora, her hands now embedded between her sister’s legs. ‘What?’ screamed Rose, in between each desperate pant. The pain kept coming at her like a huge tank, she imagined. Steamrolling over her entire body and then backing up to do it all over again. ‘Keep pushing!’ urged Flora, her own face red with concentration. Marigold moved closer, still clutching the baby. ‘I don’t believe this!’ ‘Someone tell me what’s going on? Ahhhhh!’ The pain seared through her with an intensity she had never known. Every part of her enlarged with pain.

‘It’s another one!’ said Flora. ‘Another what?’ yelled Rose. ‘It’s twins!!’ Those final pushes were the toughest. The screams were the most intense and even though her eyes were stamped shut, Rose knew it was enough. She’d done it. She’d released a second baby into the world and she couldn’t have been more surprised . . . or happier. Her tears of joy, instant as she opened her eyes, but when she clocked the expression locked on each of her sister’s faces, her smile dropped. ‘What is it? Is my baby okay?’ She could only hear the cries of the first baby. ‘It’s a girl. Another girl.’ Gone was the joy in Flora’s voice heard only moments earlier with the arrival of the first child. Even Marigold looked miserable, but then again, Marigold was regularly unable to keep a smile for long. ‘Can . . . can I see her? Why isn’t she crying?’ ‘I’m . . . Err . . . I’m just going to sort her out here . . . Clean her up . . .’ Something in Flora’s tone didn’t sit right with Rose. Of her three siblings, she and Flora were the closest. Although Rose was only just over a year younger, Flora was the one she looked up to. She’d been the first girl in their family to finish school with good marks and the first one to get a job long before women were expected to as part of the war effort. She even spoke proper too and Rose had always wanted to be like Flora. Not a spinster . . . No, not that, but to possess her strength and fearless attitude. Yet, the expression on Flora’s face was that of fear. ‘Flora, what’s that face for? What’s wrong with my baby?’ The loud and healthy cry from baby number two was reassuring and timely. ‘Nothing is wrong. There you go, a healthy pair of lungs.’ ‘You sure about that, Flora?’ added Marigold, rocking baby number one, Iris, in her arms. Pete and Rose had already decided

to name their baby Iris if it was a girl – in keeping with the flower theme of their family. For a boy, they had decided on Donald after her brother who was currently fighting the Jerries and who they hoped would soon be home. ‘Is there something wrong with my baby? Please tell me!’ ‘Once I give her a bath, everything will be okay. Marigold, give Rose the first baby.’ Marigold appeared to be dumbstruck, her eyes fixated on the baby in Flora’s arms. ‘Marigold, give her the baby!’ ‘Iris. Her name is Iris,’ said Rose. ‘Give little Iris to her. Go on!’ Rose’s fears quickly floated away as she once again held baby Iris against her tired body. The smell of her, the uniqueness of this moment, overwhelming and eclipsing any joy she had previously felt during her thirty-one years of life. In her arms was her very own child and a combination of her and Pete. Although the marriage had been a bit rocky of late, Iris was proof that everything had happened to lead her to now. This beautiful human being wrapped safely in her arms; this moment; this love. And she had two of these little blessings. Pete would love her so much after this. Their love would be rock solid and never, ever become fractured again. The love of two babies binding them together, forever. ‘Can I see my little Lily, now?’ the name rolled off her tongue effortlessly. Lily, a shortened version of their mother’s name, seemed so very fitting. ‘Lily . . . That’s a great choice,’ said Flora uneasily. There seemed to be a private conference going on between her sisters with Lily being at the centre of it. As Rose listened to the reassuring sound of her first daughter’s breath, she also longed for the second one. She wanted to be close to her and to be reassured of her existence. As Flora spoke, the expression on her face was grave. ‘I thought when I washed her, it would come off . . .’

‘What would come off?’ ‘Her colouring.’ ‘What?’ ‘Maybe in a few days. It’s probably a birth thing . . . you know because she’s the second one?’ Flora moved closer to the bed, a white sheet covering the unexpected second baby, Lily. Rose handed Marigold (herself looking as white as the sheet) baby Iris and held out her arms for Lily. She felt an intense rush of warmth as Flora placed the baby into her arms. Were they identical? Would they have similar personalities or be totally different? Her sore and aching body managed to embrace a feeling of joy as she imagined the future, which now appeared amazing and full of sparkling possibilities. The country may have been at war, but in that moment Rose could not have asked for more as she settled Lily into her arms. She opened the sheet, excited about seeing her baby for the very first time. Instead, her breath caught in her throat. Her eyes widened, her breathing accelerated. She couldn’t speak. Not a word. If not for the presence of two babies, there would not have been a single sound in that room. Then Marigold spoke. ‘If I hadn’t seen this myself I would have said the devil himself had come into the house this morning and did this. What. The. Hell. Is. That!?’

My Dearest Love,
I can still feel the harshness of the ground beneath my bare feet as I run towards my mama, as she calls us in to eat. I miss the smell of fresh cornbread and the sound of the birds chirping me awake in the morning. I also miss the sky as blue as the sea with the sunshine above the mammoth trees draped in Spanish moss as I trace the sweat dripping down to my cheek. Yes, this land of yours, Great Britain, has the birds, but it rarely has the sunlight.

Yet, one day, when I thought it was going to be just another grey day, the sun appeared in all its splendour. It was the day we arrived in the town of Alderberry and all those people were so welcoming to us. I couldn’t be sure if I and the other seven guys were part of that welcome, but it appeared we were. To every one of the British who came to greet us, ask our names and thank us for ‘helping get rid of the Jerries’, I was just another American soldier walking the cobbled streets like they were reclaiming the land of their forefathers! I admit it. I allowed the clapping and stares to go to my head. It wasn’t something I was used to. The staring yes, but not the clapping. Not in America and not among my comrades either. It made me feel like a hero. Cornel told me to tone it down a little and put my chest back in. Maybe I should have. But for once I wasn’t about to obey any orders. ‘We ain’t like them,’ he said. ‘Well, to these folks, we are!’ Cornel was my best friend in the army. We looked the same. And while we were stationed in areas far away from home and everything I had ever known we had a type of safety in numbers, strategy in defence of some of the other men, like Riker. Riker was from Augusta, Georgia and not too far from where I grew up in Savannah. And it’s because of this that he hated me the most. The guys from the North weren’t like Riker and his boys. They treated us well enough, didn’t adhere to Jim Crow, but they sometimes called us spooks or Nigger. I didn’t mind much . . . well I did . . . of course I did, but I was powerless in the face of it all. Just like I was when put on duties that really had nothing to do with fighting the Germans. I wanted to get in there and do what I had been sent to do – not clean out the bathrooms. But it wasn’t worth a dime to say anything. Cornel was right and we were not the same in the eyes of Riker and his men or the law of our own country. So, if in Great Britain, it seemed like we were men – then I was going to enjoy that feeling for as long as I could.

Riker and the others truly believed they were movie stars. Big time operators stopping to hand out gifts to the ladies and kids. If the lady was pretty, she would get a little more than some cigarettes or candy. More like some nylons and a promise to ‘see her later’. I’d never known of a man to get a date so easily! Back home, I’d had to patiently wait six weeks for just a kiss with sweet Augustine Jewson! How Riker and the other guys behaved was not my way and, even if it were, I and the other seven guys who looked like me would not be allowed to partake anyway. Instead, we simply ‘minded our business’ as Cornel would say. Content to enjoy the way you folks pronounced words like ‘water’ and to give out extra candy bars to anyone who even smiled our way. As we stood in and among the last of the gathered crowds, my mouth dry with all the talking and laughing with the British folk, one of the seven said something about going to a bar or a ‘pub’, for lunch. It was called the Black Dog and I found this name a little unfortunate, but I was assured by one of the local men that the name referred to a real black dog that used to gather sheep in the area. As usual, Cornel was being negative, saying – ‘Let’s just all go back to base. I ain’t going in no establishment called the Black Dog!’ – five of the guys ignored him and carried on in the direction of the pub. ‘You coming?’ asked Cornel. ‘This isn’t home, we’re in England now. The folks here have been nothing but cordial, nice and welcoming.’ ‘I don’t know where you living but back at the base, ain’t nothing changed.’ He was right about that. Men like Riker were still determined to keep up what they were used to back at home regardless of where we had landed – and drinking in the same area as them was not the done thing. Some drinking establishments had already agreed to rotating passes so that we Negro soldiers were never in on the same day as white soldiers. Not everyone in this village had agreed to that and this made me happy inside. It felt

like England and its people were not going to be hostile towards us and that was great. But of course that made no difference to men like Riker. Of course, I was about to follow Cornel back to base . . . But something or someone stopped me. I looked up again and there it was. A kind of vision that I hoped was real. ‘You go on up ahead, and I’ll meet you.’ That was a lie. Cornel was looking sour but I was not about to leave. Not at that moment. Maybe not ever, because I had just laid eyes on you, for the very first time. Back home in Savannah, it wasn’t hard for me to ignore the look of a woman – a white woman – because simply put, to look back could get me in serious trouble, even killed. Yet thousands of miles away, here in a British town called Alderberry, I tried once again to pretend that my way of life back home was far behind. I had to do that in combat anyway because I just couldn’t afford to think about those I had left behind. Yet still, I, William Burrell, dared to look back at you. I dared to catch your pretty smile. A moment, which locked me into a time and space I never wanted to come out of. You were the first white woman I had ever looked at in that way before. Maybe even the first woman. Not even Augustine Jewson or Marie A. Rhodes or Viola Jackson had held my time in such a way. I knew that image of you would remain in my mind like a flower in a bed of concrete. I mean no disrespect when I say this, but you weren’t Hollywood glamour like Gene Tierney, with your dressed-down flat shoes, your hair neatly styled, but with tendrils falling messily into your eyes, that to be honest did look a little tired. Yet, I could see they still sparkled with something. And looking at you gave me a sense of peace within the chaos. A calm I didn’t know I had missed. A sense of acceptance in a world where I was risking my life for a country that failed to even see me as a man.

‘Hello there,’ you said. I adored that accent as well as your brazenness. I’d overheard Riker and the others talking a lot about British women being very forward and willing to ‘give it up to a GI’ on the first night if alcohol and ‘fags’ were involved. I knew you’d be different. I just knew. ‘Why, hello. I’m William Burrell. How are you today, ma’am?’ ‘I’m fine, thank you, Mr Burrell.’ ‘You can call me Willie.’ ‘William will be fine.’ And there it was. Instant confirmation that what you already saw in me was more than what I had been used to. Men younger than I often referred to me, a grown man, as ‘boy’ while others just called me Willie. To me, Willie only ever sounded right coming from the lips of my mama and daddy and here stood you, beautiful sweet you, calling me by my full name and this just confirmed that everything I had felt in the ninety or so seconds we’d known one another was valid. It was real. You were not part of my wishful imagination. ‘May I ask you your name?’ I asked you. A firm nudge almost knocked me off my feet. ‘You should not be doing this,’ whispered Cornel into my ear. ‘I thought you were going back to base,’ I said, momentarily out of my trance. ‘I was until I saw you trying to commit a suicide.’ ‘Just being friendly to the lady.’ ‘Then be friendly to everyone, the same. Don’t put trouble on yourself. It’s not worth it. She ain’t worth it.’ As Cornel moved away, I turned back and you were gone. Luckily, my gaze found you slowly moving away from the crowds, that smile and then your hand telling me to follow. I stopped, remembering Cornell’s words along with thirty years of my own memories locked away in my head and refusing to leave me. My heart beat fast. I was in another world. In England. They didn’t do that here, did they?

I followed anyway and then you stopped and turned around, smiling at me once again, luring me further into your world and possibly a whole lot of trouble. Soon, only a muddy ground and an abundance of trees surrounded us. Lush greenery and the absence of others. There was just you and I. What if you screamed? ‘My name is Rose.’ I walked closer to you, so slowly and giving you a chance to change your mind; tell me this had all been a mistake. I should have thought about the possibility that this could be a trap but I knew you wouldn’t do that to me. I already trusted you. I already knew you. So, with my hand stretched out, I moved closer knowing as soon as our palms touched for the very first time, you’d become everything I never knew I needed.

Wartime Sweethearts Cover