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The Wartime Book Club by Kate Thompson #Review

  The Wartime Book Club is a marvellous historical novel set on Jersey in World War Two. Written by Kate Thompson , it was published by Hodder $ Stoughton on February 13th. Jersey, 1943. Once a warm and neighbourly community, now German soldiers patrol the cobbled streets, imposing a harsh rule on the people of the island. Grace La Mottée, the island's only librarian, is ordered to destroy books which threaten the new regime. Instead, she hides the stories away in secret. Along with her headstrong best friend, postwoman Bea Rose, she wants to fight back. So she forms the wartime book club: a lifeline, offering fearful islanders the joy and escapism of reading. But as the occupation drags on, the women's quiet acts of bravery become more perilous - and more important - than ever before. And, when tensions turn to violence, they are forced to face the true, terrible cost of resistance . . . Based on astonishing real events, The Wartime Book Club is a love letter

The Orchard Girls by Nikola Scott #Publication Day #Extract

 


Today I am delighted to be taking part in the celebrations for the Publication of The Orchard Girls by Nikola Scott.  I have an extract for you to sample of this historical novel with a dual timeline.

London, 2004. Frankie didn't always have it easy. Growing up motherless, she was raised by her grandmother, who loved her – and betrayed her. For years, the rift between them seemed irreparable. But when their paths suddenly cross again, Frankie is shocked to realise that her grandmother is slowly losing control of her memory. There is a darkness in her past that won't stay buried – secrets going back to wartime that may have a devastating effect on Frankie's own life.

Somerset, 1940. When seventeen-year-old Violet's life is ripped apart by the London Blitz, she runs away to join the Women's Land Army, wanting nothing more than to leave her grief behind. But as well as the terror of enemy air raids, the land girls at Winterbourne Orchards face a powerful enemy closer to home. One terrible night, their courage will be put to the test – and the truth of what happened must be kept hidden, forever . . .

Extract


It is September 1940 and at the Wentworth Hotel, London’s upper crust congregates for the society crush of the summer. Violet’s mother is giddy with anticipation because a marriage proposal finally seems to be on the cards for her daughter Violet. Violet, horrified at the prospect of a match with bone-achingly dull Edward Forester, persuades her cousin Romy to slip away to a night club for a last night of freedom. But London is heading into the first devastating air raid of the Blitz and they’ve barely left Knightsbridge before the sky is filled with planes…

Outside the car window, darkness had begun to settle on houses and trees. Except, Romy had been right, it wasn’t really dark, was it? The sky to the east, whenever Violet caught a glimpse of it above the streetscape, was a strange, smudgy orange, blooming upwards and oscillating.

‘Fire,’ Violet said involuntarily. ‘From the air raid this afternoon probably, but it’s all the way over to the east.’

‘You know, I think we should turn back, Duffy,’ Romy said, craning her neck to keep track of the glow. ‘With how bright that is, the fire must be enormous—’

‘Let’s just try to get to the West End,’ Duffy said. But he kept his eyes fixed on the eastern horizon whenever he stopped to let ambulances and lorries manoeuvre past in the near-darkness, and even though Violet valiantly carried on the conversation, she eventually ran out of things to say. Looking through the car window, she suppressed a sudden shiver as blacked-out windows, papered-over gas lights and closed doors stared back at her impassively.

No. She shook herself. This was her night, her one night of freedom. It was just unnerving going so slowly and not really being able to see. The moment they got to the Colonial Bar, there’d be a band, Duffy had said, with a black person singing, and champagne.

‘Almost there,’ she said emphatically, although they were barely through Knightsbridge. ‘We’ll have so much fun.’

But suddenly, as if someone had turned on the sound, there was the long, rolling swell of the air raid sirens.

‘Again?’ Romy said, horrified just as a warden knocked sharply on the window.

‘Nearest shelter is the church crypt down at the end of the street,’ he barked when Duffy wound down the window. ‘Hurry now.’

‘What’s happening?’ Romy asked.

‘Where on earth have you been these last few hours? The Germans have finally done it. Hundreds of them. Thousands. The entire East End is on fire!’ Without another word, he hurried away. Duffy inched forward, tapping his fingers impatiently when he was forced to stop to let two people across the street. In a window of a ground-floor flat, a dog was peering out forlornly.

The sirens had finally stopped wailing, but now, horrifyingly, there was something else.

The drone of aircraft.

A puckering, rattling rat-tat-tat, terrifying in its relentless monotone, far away at first, but close at the same time too.

‘Duffy, leave the car,’ Romy shouted. ‘We’ll have to run for it.’

But suddenly there was a deafening boom, right on top of them, and then the front end of the car lifted, and they were thrown up and forward, riding a roaring wave of noise. Violet lost her bearings, her eyes were wide open and she saw the church tower above falling towards them, bricks and rubble flying away from it as it came straight at the car, the spike of the weathervane directed at her, about to run her through at any moment . . .

A hand reached across her and pushed open the door, and then she was wrenched forward into a stumbling run. As they ran, she looked back over her shoulder, and each time her mind took a snap-shot. The tower turning sideways. Snap. The beautiful swirly window at the bottom crashing into the nave of the church. Snap. Walls collapsing in a shower of bricks and glass. Duffy’s car crushed by an enormous stone pillar. Duffy’s round face next to her, his eyes wide and terrified. Romy a flash of silver at her side, her hand still clamped around Violet’s wrist.

‘In here,’ Duffy shouted, and the three of them fell into a doorway, clawed at the paving stones to crawl into the farthest corner. Violet’s face was smeared with tears and dust, her dress torn, her ears . . . something was wrong with her ears, she couldn’t hear. She dragged her dress across her eyes until her vision cleared. Romy had sunk against the side of the doorway and when a flash of light briefly illuminated the doorway, Violet saw that her cousin’s mouth was moving, her eyes wide and glassy. And then another flash of light, and Violet’s eyes dipped down to the dark stain across Romy’s stomach. It glistened wetly, grew bigger and horror started pulsing inside her.

‘Duffy,’ Violet shouted, ‘we have to get her to the shelter.’

‘That is the shelter!’ Duffy shouted hoarsely, pointing back at where the church had been.

About the Author


Nikola Scott started out in book publishing and worked as a crime fiction editor in America and England for many years. Turning her back on blood-spattered paperback covers and dead bodies found in woods, she sat down at her kitchen table one day to start her first novel — and hasn’t stopped writing since. Obsessed with history and family stories (‘How exactly did you feel when your parents gave the house to your brother?’) she is well-known – and feared – for digging up dark secrets at dinner parties and turning them into novels.

Her first two books, My Mother's Shadow and Summer of Secrets, have both been international bestsellers and were translated widely around the world. Nikola lives in Frankfurt with her husband and two boys (and a kitchen table).

Once a month, Nikola sends out a popular newsletter about writing, reading, book news, freebies and loads of therapeutic baking. Join in here if you’d love to be a part of it all:bit.ly/NikolaScottNews

For more info on Nikola, visit her website at www.nikolascott.com   

 

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Thanks to Nikola Scott and Rachel of Rachel's Random Resources for the extract and a place on the event.
 

 

 

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