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Driving south past Snowdon

Because I live at one end of Snowdonia and my family at the other, for years I’ve taken the drive past the dramatic beauty of Snowdon and Beddgelert for granted, with Brondanw Gardens and Portmeirion to visit on the way.

Well, never again. This last year it seems we’ve either been in lockdown or when Snowdonia is heaving. In the first lockdown there was a certain magical element with the perfect weather and having no traffic or visitors around. The birdsong seemed louder, the bluebells were more intense. And yet at the same time it felt uncomfortably eerie.

The only time I ventured into the mountains during lockdown was when my car battery was found to be flat (embarrassingly!) after not being used for months, and I needed to drive for half an hour to make sure it was fully charged. I was excited to get up to Ogwen lake, even if it was just to turn round and come back without stopping. But once I got there, it was one of those moments the reality of the pandemic really struck home. Where usually there would be crowds climbing Tryfan, or up to Idwal lake and the Glyders, there was just silence. Yes, I loved the idea of nature taking over and having a chance to heal, but it still freaked me out, this lack of humanity in the landscape. This was when a vaccine still seemed impossibly out of reach and when the past year felt like stepping into a disaster movie. I couldn’t wait to get home.

How different it was this last weekend! As I finally ventured out to meet family members for the first time since last September, we had all been vaccinated. We were careful (including, as it turned out, picnicking amidst flurries of snow!), but it felt just that little more like normal. And going past Snowdon amongst the early morning frost, it was great to see the car parks already full and people heading up into the hills. I could see on some of their faces that this must be the first time they had been up on those hills for months.

Looking towards Cader Idris in Southern Snowdonia

I’m keeping my fingers crossed that this is finally a step back towards the freedoms of life before the pandemic – and this drive, and the ability to walk in the mountains and visit the beaches is one I will definitely never, ever, take for granted again!

The summit of Snowdon, and a reminder …

It’s always exciting when a new book is on its way …

As spring begins to appear, my second book for Orion, ‘The Girl with the Silver Clasp’, is going through the final stages of becoming a real book, for publication day in July 2021. It’s already up for review on NetGalley, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed that readers love the story as much as I loved writing it.

This time the story is set in a tiny private harbour a short distance from St Ives in the Cornwall of the 1920s. It’s centred around three very different women, all of whom have been changed by the trauma of the First World War, and who find themselves having to overcome their differences to save a crumbling family mansion and the future of the harbour’s tight-knit community, as well as to fulfil their dreams.

St Ives

I loved doing the research for this book! Sadly, COVID-19 prevented me from returning to St Ives last summer, but I was incredibly lucky to have researched the Art Deco jewellery that is the life-long passion of one of my heroines when I was in London meeting my editor, just before the pandemic changed everything. Jess’ particular skill is enamelling, something I’d learnt at school, and although I wasn’t able to meet up with local jewellery-makers as much as I’d planned, I was still able to get the information I needed, for which I’m hugely grateful.

So now, with my beautiful cover in place, and ‘The Girl with the Silver Clasp’ on its first steps out into the world, I’ve no real idea whether it will have a real-life launch or a virtual one, like I had last May for ‘The Ferryman’s Daughter’. Maybe it will be a bit of a mixture of both.

But either way, it will be exciting – and I can’t wait to share the story of Jess, Rachel and Giselle, as they each fight to overcome the past and move into a better future.

Will they find the courage to follow their dreams?

St. Ives, 1916.

Jess Morgan always hoped to become a celebrated silversmith, but when the men return from war she’s forced to return to her job as a seamstress. All she can cling to is the memory of that delicate, unique silver clasp she created for a society bride.

Rachel Bellamy served as an ambulance driver on the front line during the Great War but now it’s up to her to save the family home and picturesque harbour from her wealthy brother-in-law, before it’s too late.

Giselle Harding fought her way up from poverty to become a Hollywood movie star. Yet even the most beautiful jewels she owns will never replace the man she lost.

As the lives of the three women collide, will they be able to overcome their differences and fight together for the dreams they once held so close?

‘The Girl with the Silver Clasp’ is available for pre-order on Amazon – click HERE

And is available from NetGalley HERE

Today I’d like to welcome Thorne Moore, best selling author of A Time for Silence, who is published by Honno Press. Thorne’s latest novel, The Covenant, is a prequel to A Time for Silence and is published on August 20th 2020.

 

 

As a child I was very fond of the Narnia books (mostly because of the Pauline Baynes illustrations). One sentence in The Magician’s Nephew made a deep impression on me. “Aunt Letty was a very tough old lady: aunts often were in those days.” I really liked that. All the images I had had of Victorian women until then, thanks to BBC adaptations of Dickens, usually starring Martin Jarvis, had been of sweet little things with very pretty dresses and ringlets, on a par with fluffy kittens and with about the same IQ, or sad victims doomed by poverty or consumption.

There’s Victorian literature for you, or at least the variety written by men, who lived among women, were raised by them, nursed by them – women they lusted after and married, and yet men never seemed to rise above smug contempt for them. Women are portrayed as feeble and infantile, in need of protection and mastery. Show them as strong and they are mere figures of ridicule, like Trollope’s Mrs Proudie.

Thorne with Honno author Judith Barrow, and Firefly editor, Janet Thomas

Of course Victorian literature written by women presented a completely different picture of female understanding and determination in the period. In the works of the Brontës, Mrs Gaskell or George Eliot, women were rational creatures with at least as much determination and fight in them as the men who treated them as an amusing sub-species.

Real women, like fictional ones, were the same. Law, church and society were against them. Women who failed to marry were objects of contempt and pity. Those who did marry, officially ceased to exist. In the 18th century, it had been decreed that “By marriage, the very being or legal existence of a woman is suspended, or at least incorporated or consolidated into that of the husband.”

So it wasn’t just the vote that women lacked. A wife couldn’t hold property of her own, couldn’t keep her own earnings, couldn’t seek divorce from an intolerable union, couldn’t claim custody of her own children, couldn’t have control over her own body and couldn’t even claim to be a person in her own right. If she had paid work, it was at a far lower rate than any man. If she fell into ‘sin’ she was utterly outcast.

See her on the bridge at midnight

Saying, ‘Farewell, blighted love!’

There’s a scream, a splash, good ‘eavens!

What is she a doing of?

I am sure plenty of women, faced with what life threw at them, did choose suicide as the only way out. And disturbingly, male writers seemed to like the idea of women drowning themselves rather than living to face shame. But many women refused to go under. They refused to accept their lot. They refused to bow to injustice.

They fought back, sometimes at immense cost to themselves and though Parliament, run by men, gets the credit for any changes reluctantly forced through, it was often women’s struggle that lit the touch paper – not just the suffragettes like the Pankhursts, but women like Caroline Norton who campaigned tooth and nail for the Custody of Infants Act, the Matrimonial Causes Act and the Married Women’s Property Act. Or Josephine Butler who fought for the legal rights of wives and the repeal of the Contagious Diseases Act which allowed for the forced and often violent examination of prostitutes. Or Florence Nightingale whose reforms improved the status of female work and raised levels of health care. Or Annie Besant who fought for the rights of the matchgirls to better pay and conditions. Denied the schools and colleges open to their brothers, women fought their way into education, science, medicine. Intrepid women like Gertrude Bell conquered mountains, deserts and jungles, while thousands of ordinary women took their fate in their own hands and sailed for the colonies in the hope of making a better life for themselves. Despite their corsets, crinolines and bustles, women weren’t meek and amenable. They never have been.

In the workplace, though they were lucky to receive half the pay given to men, they were indomitable providers, slaving to keep their families from starvation when husbands died, or fell sick, or deserted. They didn’t fade away if fortune turned against them, they kept fighting, doing whatever it took to keep going, whether that meant slaving in an unhealthy factory, managing the family business, keeping geese in the back yard, taking in washing, or prostitution. Whatever it took. The world pictured women as sweet simpering angels in the house. They were better than that. They were human.

In my new novel, The Covenant, Leah Owen is a woman after my own heart. She has intelligence and determination. She has dreams, and when they come to nothing she turns to the next. She fights. She values her self-respect. Which doesn’t mean she enjoys the struggle. Few women would have done. She’s an Aunty Sally and the world is throwing everything it can find at her. But no matter what is thrown, she refuses to fall. Unless by her own choice.

 

 

My links

The Covenant: https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B08CZJ8BSL

Honno: https://www.honno.co.uk/

website: https://thornemoore.com/

FB Author page: https://www.facebook.com/thornemoorenovelist

Twitter: https://twitter.com/ThorneMoore

Amazon author page http://amzn.to/1Ruu9m1

 

I still can’t get over the amazment of hearing ‘The Ferryman’s Daughter’ being read as an audiobook by the wonderful Karen Cass. So when I saw that Elizabeth Morton is narrating her new book ‘A Last Dance in Liverpool‘, I couldn’t resist asking her about how she went about it – especially in the middle of a pandemic! 

Narrating your own book is not for the faint-hearted, so it does help that Liz is an actor, known (among other things) for playing Madeleine Basset in ‘Jeeves and Wooster’ and Linda in the Liverpool sitcom, ‘Watching’. Her husband Peter Davison is also an actor (don’t mention Darleks!), as are her sons.

The results are fascinating  – and unexpectedly hilarious. A real insight into the world of audio books. 

 

 So Liz, I have to ask what made you decide to narrate your own book?

Well, this was certainly a very different experience to the launch of my last book! I did the narration for A Liverpool Girl, at Isis sound studios some time after the book came out earlier this year.

It was only when Peter converted our very small dusty cupboard under the stairs into a makeshift recording studio and I kept seeing not only him, but my two boys darting off from their breakfast cereal to do recordings, and also signs appearing around the house saying ‘walk quietly down the stairs’ that I decided I should get in touch with Isis Audio and ask them if they would like me to try and do the recording for my new book, A Last Dance in Liverpool from home.

Did you experience any particular problems working in a cupboard?

Initially there were problems with the noise from the fridge after I kept forgetting to switch it off, then problems with forgetting to switch it back on again and all the food defrosting but that’s another story. Eventually I got the hang of it.

The sign …

 

And did you enjoy narrating ‘A Last Dance in Liverpool’?

I so enjoyed playing all the characters and even though I have done some work for Big Finish Audio, narrating my books has felt like a return to acting, albeit in this case, perched on a wobbly stool in the dark and with Stanley the dog threatening to bark at the postman at any moment.

A very innocent-looking Stanley

It’s strange also, how it feels like you are seeing the text for the first time, even though I wrote it. Not sure why, but I guess because you are coming at it from a different perspective and it’s important you immerse yourself in the characters so you stop worrying about things like structure and writing style, and that’s quite freeing. I write many different voices, and I would move from Irish, to Liverpool, to Lancashire, often on one page. Keeping the narrator’s voice, which is my natural Northern accent, from veering into one of these other voices, is also tricky.

Technically, when I made a mistake, I had to clap to mark the retake, so when I sent the files to the editor she would then work from those cues. Is this the future? My under-stairs cupboard? I missed walking on Whitley Bay beach at the end of each recording day which is what I did when I recorded earlier in the year, but for now, you’ll find me quite happy in the cupboard under the stairs.

Hope you enjoy the new book!

Thank you Liz for the inside story. I’ll never listen to an audio book in quite the same way again. And I’m looking forward to hearing you read A Last Dance in Liverpool!

 

A last Dance in Liverpool 

You can get the audio edition, narrated by Liz Here

And the Kindle edition HERE

All she wants is one last dance…

Lily and Vincent have been dancing everything from the waltz to the foxtrot together since they were six-years-old. Now a teenager, Lily realises she has feelings for Vincent that she never knew were there.

However, with Vincent off to war, Lily is evacuated to a mother and baby home with her younger siblings. It is there that she finds she has more in common with the fallen women than she once thought. But as the bombs begin to fall in Liverpool, will she ever see her sweetheart again?…

A heart-warming saga for fans of Call The Midwife from the author of A Liverpool Girl.

via Rosie’s #Bookreview Of #HistoricalFiction THE FERRYMAN’S DAUGHTER by @julietgreenwood

Shortcrust pastry for the terrified

With her new book ‘The Garden of Forgotten Wishes’ about to emerge into the world, Sunday Times bestseller Trisha Ashey shares some of her best baking tips. You need never be terrified of shortcrust pastry again! 

It’s dead easy to make shortcrust pastry – all you need is flour, cooking fat and water. Plain flour is best, but you will still get an edible result with self-raising or wholemeal flour. Cooking fat or lard – you can use butter but it tends to disintegrate while rolling.

The rule is that you need half the weight of the flour in fat. So if you have eight ounces (sorry, I am not metric) of flour, you need four ounces of fat. Other than that, you need some water. You are not going to put sugar in your pastry, because if you are putting in a sweet filling, you don’t need it and if you are putting in a savoury filling, you certainly don’t need it. Thick, sweet, chalky white pasty in supermarkets is an abomination. Decide what you are going to make. Maybe you have a cake or tart baking tray and can make tarts, or a large flan dish, or an enamel plate or two. It just needs to be heatproof.

Grease whatever you are going to use. Turn the oven on to a medium heat to warm up.

In a large bowl put your flour (sieve it in if you have a sieve) and your fat, cut into chunks. Now, start to rub the fat and flour between your thumb and fingers and allow yourself to go into a trance for ten minutes. The fat will rub into the flour and it will end up like fine breadcrumbs. You have put air into it at the same time, to make your pastry lighter. When it is all rubbed in, add a little cold water, a little bit at a time until you can gently gather the pastry together into a ball. If you overdo the water, add more flour.

Dust a clean surface with flour, and your rolling pin (or clean bottle or whatever you can find to use instead) and roll out the pastry fairly thinly so you can cut circles out of it with your cutter, or a tumbler or cup, if improvising and making tarts. If using a dish or plate, drape pastry over it and cut off excess round the edges. Gather any leftover bits together.

Fill the tart or tarts, but be frugal with jam etc. because it will bubble over if you overfill. You can use: jam, lemon curd, treacle, that jar of leftover mincemeat, or for savoury ones, a little grated cheese and tomato puree or finely chopped onions.

Bake in the medium-low oven until the pastry is just pale gold – keep an eye on it.

The excess pastry can be wrapped in cling foil and will keep in the fridge for a day or two. You can use it to cover a casserole, or top a fruit filling in a pie dish. Or cover a potato, cheese and onion bake. Or cover your large treacle tart with a lattice of pastry strips before baking…improvise, have fun!

 

The Garden of Forgotten Wishes 

Purchase Links: You can get the UK edition HERE and the US edition HERE

All Marnie wants is somewhere to call home. Mourning lost years spent in a marriage that has finally come to an end, she needs a fresh start and time to heal. Things she hopes to find in the rural west Lancashire village her mother always told her about.

With nothing but her two green thumbs, Marnie takes a job as a gardener, which comes with a little cottage to make her own. The garden is beautiful – filled with roses, lavender and honeysuckle – and only a little rough around the edges. Which is more than can be said for her next-door-neighbour, Ned Mars.

Marnie remembers Ned from her school days but he’s far from the untroubled man she once knew. A recent relationship has left him with a heart as bruised as her own.

Can a summer spent gardening help them heal and recapture the forgotten dreams they’ve let get away?

Five Things I Learnt While

Writing Through Lockdown

By Louise Marley

When Juliet first asked me if I’d like to contribute to her series of posts from authors about how they were coping with lockdown, I’m afraid I laughed. I wasn’t coping with lockdown, how could I give advice to others?

As I usually work from home, in theory nothing had changed for me. In practise (like everyone else), I suddenly had a house full of people and double the workload. Food shopping took most of the morning (and a lot of creativity), making me appreciative for everything I’d previously taken for granted. Most of all, I missed being able to meet my friends.

Now lockdown is easing, I’ve had my first trip outside my village and the shops and cafes are slowly beginning to open. Apart from ensuring I always have a supply of flour, pasta and toilet rolls in the cupboard, what have I learnt over the past few months?

 

  1. Working from home is my ‘normal’ and I shouldn’t be tempted to procrastinate. (I did so want to clear out my garage and paint my fence.)
  2. When a limited amount of writing time is available, plan ruthlessly. Tasks become more manageable if prioritised and spread over several days (and shared with the family).
  3. Limit time spent on the Internet, checking the news and social media. The last one was particularly difficult while feeling isolated from my friends and extended family.
  4. Remember to take time off. When I no longer had time to read I became distinctly twitchy. Forcing myself to take a break with a book someone else had written (and not feel guilty about it) made a lot of difference. If I had a day where I couldn’t concentrate on my own writing, I’d do something work-related instead: update my website, write a blog post, design a book cover, etc.
  5. When life becomes really stressful, take time out. (This last one was especially important). Under lockdown rules we were allowed an hour’s exercise, so my family and I decided to explore our village. We found footpaths we hadn’t known existed, lots of wildlife, even the remains of an earth and timber motte and bailey castle. And we got fit too! (https://www.instagram.com/louisemarleywrites/)

Three months later, as our lives return to a very different version of normal, I’m determined to incorporate these changes into my routine. Keep up my evening walk, read more, tweet less and definitely be grateful for everything.

 

Louise Marley

Louise Marley writes romantic comedies and murder mysteries. She is lucky enough to live in a village where there is a famous library and two ruined castles. (Her husband still thinks they moved there by accident).

 

Website: http://www.louisemarley.co.uk/

Blog: http://www.louisemarleywrites.blogspot.co.uk/

Twitter: @LouiseMarley

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/louisemarleywrites/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/LouiseMarley

 

Trust Me I Lie

When Milla Graham arrives in the picture-perfect village of Raven’s Edge, she tells everyone she’s investigating the murder of her mother who died eighteen years ago. But there’s already one Milla Graham buried in the churchyard and another about to be found dead in the derelict family mansion.

Obviously she’s lying.

Detective Inspector Ben Taylor has no life outside the police force. Even his own colleagues think he’s a boring stick-in-the-mud. Now he’s met Milla and his safe, comfortable life has been turned upside down. She’s crashed his car, emptied his wallet and is about to get him fired. 

He knows she’s a liar because she cheerfully told him so. 

Unless she’s lying about that too…

 

Buying Links: UK HERE       US HERE

This is the kind of Amazon review that comes out of the blue and makes an author’s heart beat fast!

It’s particularly close to my heart as I was also stunned by the country house where Hester works, which is suddenly overwhelmed by casualties, being so unexpectedly reflected in real life as the pandemic hit.

I felt I was living in my own book for a while. But I took comfort from the fact that this part of The Ferryman’s Daughter had been inspired by the real-life descriptions of the heroism, and the kindness, of women and men battling against the odds to save lives during WW1.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart to the reviewer, who not only made this author’s day, but reminded me of how much we have pulled together and survived in the midst of our own crisis, and that so-called ‘ordinary’ human beings are, in the main, utterly amazing.

It also reminded me of preparing for the launch of Hester’s story in a world that had so abruptly changed, which felt overwhelmingly terrifying, as if thrust into the middle of a disaster movie, but with superhero and no way out. Now, looking back over the past months, I’m still aware of the tragedies, but also remembering hearing birdsong like I’ve never done before and the vivid scent of bluebells. Of relishing the one walk of the day in glorious sunshine and just how wonderful it was to meet my fellow dog walkers and talk to another human beings at a suitable distance, making connections like we’d never quite done before.

And yes, hearing the exhaustion in the voice of the front-line nurse, and glimpsing the trauma she hasn’t yet got the time, or emotional energy, to deal with at the back of her eyes, and fearing for those I love who are shielding. But also of slowing down, rethinking what is important amongst the everyday rush of life, and gaining new pleasure in watching the finches the blue-tits on my bird feeder bringing up their babies – not to mention the endless family squabbles of an entire tribe of sparrows.

And of talking to so many in this suddenly hungry-for-human-connection world who are also rethinking priorities and determined to live – however modestly, and in whatever difficult circumstances – in a new, and hopefully more satisfying way.

The trauma of the First World War led, over time, towards huge changes, not least the eventual setting up of our wonderful NHS and the safety net of the Welfare State. My own parents could remember a time before either, when the cost of a doctor was beyond many hardworking families. It is sometimes hard to remember it’s that recent. I will never take the NHS for granted again.

When I began writing The Ferryman’s Daughter, just eighteen months ago, I never could have imagined how life would reflect fiction and the events of a century ago. I’m glad Hester’s story is one of survival and optimism. She has helped me to keep optimism for our own future too.

You can read the review HERE

The kindle version of The Ferryman’s Daughter is currently on offer at 99p/$1.02 HERE

 

 

A delicious (and simple!) recipe for Granola

from Leah Fleming

A perfect way to start the day …


 

500 gms whole rolled oats

125 gms butter or non-dairy substitute

125gms (ish) honey or maple syrup

 Selection of nuts and seeds. I use linseed, hemp seed, sunflower, pumpkin. Flaked almonds, mixed nuts, walnuts, whatever’s in the cupboard.

 

Melt the butter and honey in a pan and mix into the oats.

 Add the nuts and seeds. Put in in a large flat oven tray at 180C. cook for about 20 mins. Take out give a good stir round and return for another 15 mins. It should be golden brown colour.

 Let it cool and add dried fruit according to taste. I use, cranberries, soft raisins, soft chopped apricots, whatever you like.

Serve with yoghurt and fresh fruit.

 

Escape to the sun this summer – no planes or quarantine involved!

Leah’s enchanting new book is out now:

UK HERE    US HERE

Today I’d like to welcome Francesca Capaldi, whose debut, ‘Heartbreak in the Valleys’, has just been released by Hera Books. I wanted to ask Francesca about her inspiration and her writing process – and about writing a saga set in Wales.

 

Can you tell us a little of your writing journey and how you came to write ‘Heartbreak in the Valleys’. Did you always want to set a book in Wales?

I’d wanted to be a writer since I was a child, but didn’t send anything for publication until I joined an adult education class. I started with short story sales. After a while I started writing various novels as well, young adult and contemporary romance, none of which were picked up, although three pocket novels were bought by DC Thomson. One of the contemporary novels was set in Ceredigion, but one agent told me that nobody wanted novels set in Wales! Being half Welsh, it made me more determined that there should be novels set in Wales!

Did you find writing for magazines helping in writing your novels?

On the whole, yes. Writing magazine stories helps you to write concisely and I do think it’s easier to start with them and move to novels rather than do it the other way round. It’s also less daunting to start with short stories. Getting a few accepted for publication gave me the courage to try something longer.

I’m interested to see the story of Idris and Anwen was inspired by your own family history. What drew you to explore your history, and do you feel there is anything we can learn from the time of WW1, particularly in the light of the current global pandemic?

I’ve long been interested in my family history, especially with my parents coming from very different backgrounds (my father was Italian). On the Ancestry site, I discovered my great grandfather’s World War 1 military record and the fact he was medically discharged eight months after he enlisted. The novel started life as a short story, but having had a passion for social history since my degree, I was soon researching the records for other information. And so was born Heartbreak in the Valleys.

I have seen quite a few parallels between the current pandemic and World War 1. Food shortages is an obvious one. People have taken more to growing their own now, as they did then with the allotment schemes. In the early stages of this pandemic, nobody knew how long food shortages would last and how severe the pandemic would get, which is much like the war. The Spanish ‘flu pandemic that started in 1918, has already been used as a parallel in the media, though there were many diseases causing widespread mortality before that. These included tuberculosis (‘consumption’), which three women in my family died of and the diphtheria epidemic of 1914. As awful as this pandemic is, it gives us an idea of what people of the past lived with constantly.

I loved the portrayal of the village community, and particularly all the characters. Did you base the village and its characters on specific places and people you know?

The village, which I call Dorcalon (literally, ‘Heartbreak’), is based almost entirely on Abertysswg in the Rhymney Valley. It’s where my mother and her mother were born, and where my great grandparents lived for thirty-odd years. I’ve taken a few liberties with it, which is why I didn’t want to give it its real name. Although the seed for the story was my great grandfather Hugh’s medical discharge, Idris is not based on him at all. The only real person who appears in the story (apart from mentions of historical people like Lloyd George) is a minor character called Mary Jones. She was my great gran, on the other side of the family from Hugh. Everyone else is a product of my overactive imagination!

How did you go about getting the historical details right, and creating the atmosphere of the world of WW1?

Lots of research and reading. I have several social history books, including accounts written by people living at the time. I trawled the 1911 census for an idea of the makeup of households and family size, job descriptions and places of origin. I read through contemporary local papers for types of social activities, shops, court proceedings and so on. I found several websites about the local pals’ battalion. I also looked at the historical OS maps.

It was interesting seeing the mixing of the different classes as the community pulled together to survive the shortages. Was there any particular story, or part of your research that inspired this part of the novel?

I think it was reading something of the Suffragettes that helped form the character of Elizabeth, the manager’s daughter, who I saw immediately as an enlightened woman of her times. The Suffragettes put their activities to one side during this time to help the war effort and I realised that Elizabeth would be the kind of woman who’d want to make a difference, hence her idea for the allotments.

Can you say what are you writing now?

I haven’t long finished another Valleys book, which is due out in the Autumn. I’m taking the opportunity to create a couple of short stories for magazines – I’ve missed writing them!

Thank you for joining me on the blog, Francesca – and I’m looking forward to the next ‘Valleys’ story already! 

 

Heartbreak in the Valleys

You can purchase a copy of the book HERE

November 1915. For young housemaid, Anwen Rhys, life is hard in the Welsh mining village of Dorcalon, deep in the Rhymney Valley. She cares for her ill mother and beloved younger sister Sara, all while shielding them from her father’s drunken, violent temper. Anwen comforts herself with her love for childhood sweetheart, Idris Hughes, away fighting in the Great War.

Yet when Idris returns, he is a changed man; no longer the innocent boy she loved, he is harder, more distant, quickly breaking off their engagement. And when tragedy once again strikes her family, Anwen’s heart is completely broken.

But when an explosion at the pit brings unimaginable heartache to Dorcalon, Anwen and Idris put their feelings aside to unite their mining community.

In the midst of despair, can Anwen find hope again? And will she ever find the happiness she deserves?