Like most young people in the forties, my heroine, Sarah Gillespie, in Her Secret War, is obsessed with cinema and spends all of her hard-earned, but meagre wages, on film tickets and cinema magazines such as Picturegoer Weekly. The world she sees on the silver screen is very different to her life and feeds her dreams. For someone like Sarah, growing up in a working-class part of Dublin, the regular trip to the picture house was pure escapism. During WW2, a third of most Britons went to the cinema at least once a week and it is likely the statistics were similar here in Ireland. My father often spoke of his weekly trips as a child to ‘the flicks’ with his friends, and could tell you all about the various cinemas in Dublin and the types of films they showed. Sadly, most of those cinemas are long gone now.
And then of course, there was the Hollywood glamour filling the pages of the fan magazines, which transported readers far away from the realities of war. Much like the social media influencers of today, the movie stars’ lives influenced popular culture, fashion and music.
In Britain, the fictional trails and tribulations of favourite movie stars on the screen resonated with a public reeling from the Blitz. For a couple of hours, you could forget about the bombs dropping on your neighbourhood, the discomfort of nights spent in an Anderson Shelter or your next bombing run.
Today, I am delighted to feature the new release from Daisy Wood, The Clockmaker’s Wife. What’s more, I can highly recommend this WW2 story as I read the book recently and thoroughly enjoyed it.
The Clockmaker’s Wife
‘A ticking time-bomb of intrigue, wrapped around stark but rich descriptions of the Blitz. An unforgettable war-time debut.’ Mandy Robotham, author of The Berlin Girl
It’s the height of the Blitz in 1940, and too dangerous for Nell Spelman and her baby daughter, Alice, to stay in London. She must leave behind her husband, Arthur, one of the clockmakers responsible for keeping Big Ben tolling. The huge clock at the Palace of Westminster has become a symbol of hope in Britain’s darkest hour, and must be protected at all costs. When Arthur disappears in mysterious circumstances, Nell suspects evil forces are at work and returns to the war-torn city to save both the man and the country she loves.
Over eighty years later in New York, Alice’s daughter Ellie finds a beautiful watch with a cracked face among her mother’s possessions, and decides to find out more about the grandmother she never knew. Her search takes her to England, where her relatives are hiding shocking secrets of their own, and where she begins to wonder whether the past might be better left alone. Could her grandparents possibly have been traitors at the heart of the British establishment? Yet Ellie feels Nell at her shoulder, guiding her towards a truth which is more extraordinary than she could ever have imagined.
Daisy Wood worked as an editor in children’s publishing for several years before starting to write stories of her own. She has had over twenty children’s books published under various names, including the ‘Swallowcliffe Hall’ series for teens, based around an English country house through the years and the servants who keep it running. She loves the process of historical research and is a keen member of the London Library, which houses a wonderful collection of old magazines and newspapers as well as books. The Clockmaker’s Wife is her first published novel for adults. She studied English Literature at Bristol University and recently completed a Creative Writing MA at City University in London, where she lives with her husband, a rescue dog from Greece and a fluffy grey cat.
It is often the children who are most affected by war and WW2 was no exception. A poignant example of the terror experienced by a child is a quote from a young girl who survived the Southampton Blitzkrieg.
“There must have been some sort of warning before the sirens and when the barrage balloons went up, I knew it meant danger. I was very frightened. I used to rush down the garden to go headfirst into the shelter.”
Being within easy reach of German airfields in France, Southampton was an easy target for the Luftwaffe and a strategic one. Over the course of the war, 57 raids were carried out with approximately 2,300 bombs dropped. Six hundred and thirty one citizens were killed and 898 were seriously wounded. The damage was extensive with 45,000 buildings damaged or destroyed.
John Anthony Miller was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to a father of English ancestry and a second-generation Italian mother. Motivated by a life-long love of travel and history, he normally sets his novels in exotic locations during eras of global conflict. Characters must cope and combat, overcoming their own weaknesses as well as external influences spawned by tumultuous times. He’s the author of seven historical thrillers and mysteries, as well as Song of Gabrielle. He lives in southern New Jersey with his family.
Eighty years ago, a German pilot dropped four bombs on neutral Dublin City
Ireland was still recovering from the War of Independence from Britain and the Irish Civil War, when WW2 broke out in Europe. The government at the time, led by Eamonn de Valera, declared Ireland was a neutral country. Ireland had neither the manpower nor the resources to become involved in the conflict. Relations with Britain were already strained and Ireland’s stance made Churchill furious.
Ireland’s neutrality, however, was tilted slightly in favour of the Allies. Downed RAF pilots were quietly escorted to the border with Northern Ireland, while their German counterparts were interned at the Curragh Camp for the duration of the conflict. Perhaps more significantly, the Irish government sent fire crews to Belfast, during the Blitz in April 1941, to help put out the raging fires and dig out the bodies. Immediately after, many Northern Irish refugees made their way to Dublin where they were warmly welcomed.
I grew up a few kilometres from the suburb of North Strand on the north side of Dublin City. As a teenager, I was astonished to discover I lived so close to the spot where a Luftwaffe pilot dropped bombs in the early hours of 31st May 1941. The events of that Whit weekend, echoed the Blitz of Belfast only weeks before, and the bombing of cities such as Liverpool and London, and indeed, many other cities throughout Europe. A taste of the Blitz must have shaken Ireland to its core.
Retired housewife, Pauline Morgan, relocated to her native Northern Ireland. She has been writing since 2000 and decided to write about her experiences in various houses she lived in and, as a result, self-published the paranormal Special Houses. Pauline previously joined the Romantic Novelist Association and participated in their New Writers Scheme and she is also a member of an online writing group, Writers Ink VIP. Pauline has written four short stories which have been published in Woman’s Way magazine and a further two have been published in the iconic Ireland’s Own Magazine. She enjoys entering Flash Fiction competitions and was long-listed in the Kanturt Flash Fiction. Her first poem, Airborne, was posted on the Pendemic.ie website, in March 2020.
Thank you for inviting me onto your blog today and for the amazing support of the launch of my latest book.
There are lots of ways to boost your mental health and wellbeing and having people around that you love and trust can help. In my latest book, Shh… It’s Our Secret, Violet struggles with self-confidence and self-worth.
She feels that her friends and her sister, all view her as a failure. The customers in the rundown café bar that she works in have become her confidants, including two eccentric pensioners, who feel like they have to act as her unofficial bodyguards when her secret ‘escapes’ into public knowledge. Violet will have to find out who has betrayed her and to step out of the shadows and find her voice.
Today, I am delighted to be in the company of fellow Irish historical fiction author, Anne McLoughlin, who has dropped by to say hello and to share some insights into her life as an author.
You are very welcome, Anne, please introduce yourself:
Born in Dublin, I now divide my time between there and my home in rural Wexford.
With my working life in television production with RTE behind me, I’ve now embarked on a new career in my retirement. Writing a novel was always an ambition, but until recent years I didn’t have a strong enough inspiration to spur me on, but that’s all changed now, since I had a brainwave.
Highly commended in the Colm Tóibín International Short Story Competition in the Wexford Literary Festival, this gave me the encouragement to really get stuck into working on my ‘Lives’ trilogy.