I’m delighted to welcome May Ellis, a.k.a Alison Knight, to my place today to share the #openinglines from her brand new novel, Courage for the Clarks Factory Girls.

Over to you May…

Hello Jenny,

Thanks so much for inviting me to share the opening lines of my new historical saga, Courage for the Clarks Factory Girls. This is the second in my Clarks series, but it was actually the first one I wrote! I’d been asked by my publishers, Boldwood Books, to write about the Clarks shoe factory in the First World War and I actually decided to start it a little way into the conflict because the Clark family were pacifists and influenced many people in Street, Somerset, where their headquarters are still based. By 1915, the government were hinting that conscription would be brought in if not enough men enlisted voluntarily. My editor loved this book, but wanted me to write a prequel, showing the story prior to 1915. Thus, The Clarks Factory Girls at War became the first book in the series and Courage for the Clarks Factory Girls is the second. I’ve just finished writing book three and am starting on book four, so watch out for more stories about Louisa, Kate and Jeannie in the future.

I hope you enjoy the opening lines of Courage for the Clarks Factory Girls.

With love,  May Ellis

BLURB for Courage for the Clarks Factory Girls by May Ellis

1915: As war continues to rage across the Channel, the families of the Somerset village of Street can no longer avoid its long shadow.

Workers in the Clarks shoe factory, at the heart of the village, have left for the army in droves, and news from the Front seems to grow darker by the day.

When life-long friends Louisa, Jeannie and Kate receive the news they had been fearing, all hope seems lost. And Louisa’s world will be rocked further when she makes another discovery, one that will see her cast out by her family, changing her life forever.

Kate and Jeannie are determined to be strong for their friend, but each of them has their own problems to bear, and when Jeannie’s beloved brother Lucas enlists, she fears history is about to repeat itself.

Can the Clarks factory girls help each other through the darkest days and keep hope alive?

The second in the heartwarming and gripping new saga series perfect for fans of Elaine Everest and Rosie Clarke.


First 500 words…

September 1915

Louisa smiled as she ran a loving hand over the crisp cotton bedsheets that she had just placed in her bottom drawer. In the weeks since her sweetheart Mattie had been away fighting in France, she had been working hard, adding to her collection of household items so that when he came home they would be ready to start married life together.

Her smile turned to a grin as she remembered him teasing her about the first things she’d bought. ‘I’ve got a nice tea set, some pillowcases and a tin-opener so far,’ she’d told him.

Mattie had burst out laughing.

‘What’s so funny?’ she had asked.

He had shaken his head, still chuckling. ‘Nothing at all, love. I’m just thinking that at least we can have a cuppa, open a tin of sardines and then have somewhere to rest our heads. I can’t wait to use them.’

‘Oh, you,’ she had giggled, poking him in the ribs. ‘My ma always said you need to be able to feed and water your man, then he’ll need his rest.’

‘Sensible woman, your ma.’

Now she had sheets and blankets as well as the pillowcases. She felt her blood warm as she imagined them lying together in their marriage bed.

‘Oh, Mattie,’ she sighed. ‘I miss you so, my love. I wish this awful war would end.’

She tucked his latest letter into the beribboned bundle she kept in the drawer with their treasures. He had kept his promise, writing to her most days, even though it sometimes took a while for them to reach her. His letters were full of love and their plans for the future, interspersed with funny stories about army life. She knew he was playing down the hardships of life in the trenches, not wanting her to worry – although how could she not? She suspected that making things seem amusing helped him to cope with the harsh realities of war as well.

Her own responses to him were written in the same vein – silly stories about life working at the Clarks shoe factory and outings with her friends, Kate and Jeannie. She tried not to mention her parents and their disapproval of her relationship with Mattie on account of their different religions. She was still convinced that it was her Anglican father’s influence that had persuaded Mattie, a Quaker, to enlist. It still made her stomach churn when she thought of it.

She took a calming breath and closed the drawer. It was nearly time for church. She would pray to God to keep Mattie safe and bring him and all the other lads home soon.

As she left her room and walked downstairs, there was a knock at the front door.

‘Whoever can that be at this time on a Sunday morning?’ muttered her mother as she went to open it.

As Louisa reached the hall, she recognised the voice of Peg Searle – Kate’s sister.

‘Good morning, Mrs Clements,’ she said. ‘Would it be …


You can buy May’s latest novel from all good book and ebook retailers, including:  https://mybook.to/thefactorygirlssocial


May Ellis lives in a road named after a Clarks shoe on the site of a former shoe factory, so it was inevitable that this writer would want to write about the people who worked for Clarks in days gone by.

Courage for the Clarks Factory Girls is the second in a series of stories about Louisa, Jeannie and Kate, who work together at Clarks during the First World War, the first being The Clarks Factory Girls at War.

May Ellis is published by Boldwood Books. She also writes as Alison Knight and is a co-founder of Imagine Creative Writing with fellow author Jenny Kane.


Many thanks May.

Happy reading everyone.

Jenny x