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Tag: 1960’s

Opening Lines with Jan Baynham: Her Sister’s Secret

This week I’m delighted to welcome Jan Baynham back to my blog with the Opening Lines from her latest novel,

Her Sister’s Secret.

Over to you Jan…

Her Sister’s Secret, with its sub-heading of ‘the Summer of ‘66’, is my second novel of three I’ve been contracted to write for Ruby Fiction. All three novels involve secrets and forbidden love, explore mother and daughter relationships and are partly set in countries other than Britain. ‘Her Sister’s Secret’ was published on September 15th as an e-book. Much of it is set in beautiful rural mid-Wales and the rest in a fictional area of northern Sicily. The story opens in 1946 when a young Welsh woman, Rose Howells, begins work in the kitchens of a large country house. She has a tempestuous relationship with her father whom she suspects of dealing on the Black Market. When matters come to a head after a particularly serious argument, she leaves home and eventually makes a decision that will have repercussions for the whole family. Her name is never mentioned again and what she did becomes a deeply held family secret. In 1966, that secret is partly revealed and Jennifer Howells travels to Sicily to find out why she and Rose have been kept apart for over eighteen years. In the novel, I try to give a glimpse of what life was like in both eras and how society judged women living in both times. Jen’s search for her true identity takes her to a wonderful island so different from rural mid-Wales in terms of climate, the colours, foods and way of life. I hope the book encourages readers to think about the decisions Rose made and whether, under the circumstances, they were the right ones. The role Aunt Edie plays in both stories is a crucial one.

BLURB:

How far would you travel to find the truth?

It’s 1966 and Jennifer Howells is a young woman with the world at her feet, just on the cusp of leaving her Welsh village for an exciting life in the city.

Then the contents of an inconspicuous brown envelope turn Jennifer’s world upside down. The discovery leaves her spiralling, unsure who she is. Overnight, Miss Goody Two Shoes is replaced by a mini-skirted wild child who lives for parties and rock’n’roll.

But Jennifer’s experience with the excesses of sixties’ culture leaves her no closer to her true identity. She soon realises she’ll have to travel further – first to Cardiff, then across the ocean to Sicily – if she wants to find out who she really is …

***

FIRST 500 WORDS

Prologue

24 August 1943

A loud knocking echoed along the passageway of the cottage. Joe Howells opened the front door to a solemn-faced young man in uniform.

‘Mr Joseph Howells? A telegram for you.’

The blood drained from Joe’s face. As he took the envelope, his hand shook. His pulse raced so fast, he steadied himself against the hall table. Please, God. Don’t let it be what I think it is.

Walking back into the scullery, he slid a finger under the flap of the envelope and unfolded the telegram with its Post Office logo heralding the message he didn’t want to read.

MR AND MRS J. HOWELLS, 1 PENRHOS, PONTCARREG.

I REGRET TO INFORM YOU THAT YOUR SON, GUNNER BRIAN JOSEPH HOWELLS (ARMY NUMBER: 864499) OF THE 8TH ARMY, HAS BEEN KILLED IN ACTION NEAR MESSINA IN SICILY.

Joe couldn’t read any more. Transported back to the horror of the trenches in his war, he slumped to the floor and cradled his arms around his head. He tried to shut out the noise of shells exploding around him. He gagged on the stench of bloodied bodies, relived the pain of the gas blistering his skin under his damp uniform, tasted the burning bile in his throat and in his lungs as he tried to breathe. His hand traced the shape of the metal plate in his skull where they’d patched him up. Physically, at least.

The back door opened.

‘Joe. Whatever’s wrong?’ Violet put down the washing basket and rushed to her husband.

It was then she saw the telegram discarded on the flagstone floor beside him.

‘Oh, noo-oo!’ she wailed. ‘Not our beautiful boy.’

 

Chapter One

Rose

1946

‘What do you mean you know what I’m up to, you little madam?’

Joe Howells’s voice rose to a bellow. He went to strike his daughter, but Rose backed away and he caught the back of his hand on the door post instead. He swore and Rose ran upstairs. She slammed the bedroom door behind her and, with tears pricking her eyes, fumbled to turn the key. She clenched her hands so tightly that her nails dug deep into her palms, flung herself on the bed and pictured her father pacing the floor in the kitchen below.

She heard him shouting angrily. ‘The girl’s gone too far this time. She needs to be taught a lesson.’

Her mother’s voice was softer. ‘Why do you two always have to annoy each other? You’re both as bad as each other.’

But her mother didn’t know what was really going on, did she? Her father’s voice was closer now. He was at the foot of the stairs.

‘Come down here at once, Rose, or I’ll break the door down to make you!’

‘No. Go away! I’m not coming out.’

Rose pulled the bed clothes closer to her chest and buried her head in the silky eiderdown to shut out her father’s rage.

He hammered on the door with his fists.

Her throat tightened…

***

‘Her Sister’s Secret’ is available on:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Her-Sisters-Secret-Summer-66-ebook/dp/B08F5H7YQF/

https://www.amazon.com/Her-Sisters-Secret-Summer-66-ebook/dp/B08F5H7YQF/

https://www.kobo.com/gb/en/search?query=her+sisters+secret+jan+baynham

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/her-sisters-secret-jan-baynham/1137428123?ean=2940162698852

You may find out more about Jan here:

Twitter – @JanBaynham https://twitter.com/JanBaynham

Facebook – Jan Baynham Writer https://www.facebook.com/JanBayLit

Blog – Jan’s Journey into Writing https://janbaynham.blogspot.com/

BIO

After retiring from a career in teaching and advisory education, Jan joined a small writing group in a local library where she wrote her first piece of fiction.  From then on, she was hooked! She soon went on to take a writing class at the local university and began to submit short stories for publication to a wider audience. Her stories and flash fiction pieces have been longlisted and shortlisted in competitions and several appear in anthologies both online and in print. In October 2019, her first collection of stories was published.  Her stories started getting longer and longer so that, following a novel writing course, she began to write her first full-length novel. She loves being able to explore her characters in further depth and delve into their stories.

Originally from mid-Wales, Jan lives in Cardiff with her husband. Having joined the Romantic Novelists Association in 2016, she values the friendship and support from other members and regularly attends conferences, workshops, talks and get togethers. She is co-organiser of her local RNA Chapter, Cariad, and a member of the Society of Authors.

Many thanks for sharing your fabulous Opening Lines today, Jan,

Happy reading everyone,

Jenny x

Opening Lines: Cast a Horoscope by Suzi Stembridge

Thursday is here once more, which means more ‘Opening Lines,

This week I’m pleased to welcome Suzi Stembridge to my site. Let’s ‘Cast a Horoscope’…

Although this book is inspired by my four years as an air hostess in the early 1960s it is not autobiographical. CAST A HOROSCOPE has been awarded a Chill With A Book Readers’ Award in August 2018. It is volume One in the Quartet “Coming of Age” and the fifth volume for readers reading the whole JIGSAW series in chronological order. All books can be read independently of the others in the series but do combine as one long family saga. CAST A HOROSCOPE begins when Rosalind (Roz), the great-great-grand-daughter of the main protagonist in the first two volumes of “Greek Letters Quartet, starts her career as an air hostess full of excitement and hope. It continues into her life as a young woman in the seventies when the old Victorian mores of marriage and starting a family were still strong. This is an era when memories of WW2 are still fresh, when the pilots had either been World War 2 pilots or trained in the tradition of the RAF. There was a very different and much more casual attitude to training based on common-sense rather than formal examinations. Aircrew and passengers alike were living in a time before mass travel and enjoying a new sense of freedom. Shorthaul flights at this time were typically in Vickers Viking or Dakota aircraft with two pilots and a stewardess. It was unusual for an aircraft to travel say as far as Athens without a touch down to refuel at Lyons or Rome. Most holidaymakers travelled not just to lie on the beaches, but to see ancient sites and museums or absorb the culture of a country. People were happy to enjoy the new sense of peace but with traditional attitudes still prevailing life was not perhaps as liberating or as easy in the sixties and seventies as young people assumed.

Blurb:

Rosalind Peters, known as Roz, is an air-stewardess in the early 1960’s; in the days when they were called air-hostesses. With a one hour induction, a training flight to Paris and an afternoon swotting from her manual, she is embarking on her first flight at night and she is solely responsible for thirty-six passengers on a Viking aircraft. The chief pilot of the small Yorkshire-based charter airline is her captain and in these days of fledgling package holidays her passengers are businessmen going to Hamburg to play hockey. It doesn’t take long for the sardonic captain, ex RAF and Berlin airlift, and seeming to the youthful Roz as middle-aged and corpulent, to size up the rooky learner. But rather than suffering the agonies of initiation Roz is won over by the Captain’s winning smile and the joy of flying. The whole glamorous Mediterranean world is opened up to Roz. Greece: Athens when one could walk inside the Parthenon on the Acropolis, Lindos on Rhodes with pristine beaches, Crete when airplanes landed on grass airstrips, Cyprus: Kyrenia before its annexation to Turkey, Cairo: when you could touch the Sphinx and Jerusalem: when the airport was in the Jordanian quarter, not to mention Tangier: city of blackmail and torture, and all before the days of mass tourism. But Rosalind’s middleclass background is conditioned to preserve her virginity and allow her to make a good marriage; these are days when strict rules govern life outside marriage and young people are expected to abide by what is acceptable in respectable society. Do her Northern roots compete to draw her back from the heat and dust of a Europe fast recovering from, but still affected by, the horrors of two world wars? In an era when sex outside marriage, worse illegitimacy and adoption carry such stigma will Rosalind find true love and be able to resist the temptations and excitement on offer in this liberated life style? Will the consequences of her actions affect other lives?

First 500 words…

August 1960

With a buoyant step Roz Peters entered an aircraft for only the second time in her life. Uppermost in her mind was the knowledge that she, as the sole airhostess, would be entirely responsible for all the thirty-six passengers of a Vickers Viking aircraft. She had been told the night flight would be full. Once through the door in the tail she walked up towards the cockpit which was on stand-by lighting. She stopped where two small steps took her up over the wheel axle. Although there were passenger seats in the forward section before the cockpit door she felt inhibited to go further.

As the Ferryair Captain climbed on board, using the same and only entrance to the dark aircraft Roz was facing him. She welcomed him and introduced herself, lighting the entrance from the galley at the back with a standard issue torch. She had thought that if she switched on the cabin lights at night she would harm the aircraft, much as using the headlights in a stationary car flattens the battery. Roz was confident that her Captain would have been told that his regular hostess had gone sick and she was taking her ‘stand-by’ place, after completing only one training flight instead of the prescribed six.

However, without attempting to reply to the young hostess’ welcome or to reassure her, the stocky short Captain merely put down a switch marked ‘cabin lights’ and strode up to the cockpit.   ‘We are on ground power now,’ he snapped as he marched up the aisle, with the tall first officer silently following him. They then shut the forward door to the cockpit leaving Roz in the empty cabin nervously replacing the torch and awaiting the arrival of her passengers from the departure hall. A ground hostess led out the passengers, all men.

To her amazement, Roz found her nervousness quickly evaporating and she was able to remember the procedure she had been taught the previous day, particularly when it came to demonstrating the emergency procedures. She was glad she had spent all that afternoon swotting up from her manual, although the expression  ‘if the aircraft has to ditch it may float’ was reverberating through her head, but she was not going to alarm the passengers by telling them that. It was midnight and she didn’t feel ready for bed, just for work.

‘How long have you been in this job?’ one passenger asked her as she helped him fasten his seat belt.

She replied ‘half an hour!

He laughed, ‘that makes two of us…. I’ve never flown in a chartered plane before.’

Rosalind remembered sitting in the London flat, fed up after a hard day’s shorthand and typing, and that was little more than a month ago. On her application form she had given her full name, Pandora Rosalind Peters, and made a split second decision to be known henceforth as Rosalind or if pushed simply Roz. ‘This will be truly a new beginning,’ she said…

***

Buy links:

http://amzn.to/ZSpdvZ  ebook

https://amzn.to/2RLcXRh Paperback

We live on the Pennine hills in West Yorkshire between Halifax and Huddersfield but my heart is often in Greece.

I write historical and contemporary fiction, most of which has a Greek bias, either being set or partly set in Greece, with other scenes in the UK, particularly Northern England and Wales. Many of my characters like to travel, so much of Europe has been covered in the whole series which I have called JIGSAW. Jigsaw comprises two Quartets, THE GREEK LETTERS QUARTET which starts towards the end of the Greek War of Independence in 1827 and finishes in the present decade around 2011, and a second Quartet THE COMING OF AGE with a time span from 1960 to the present decade. The protagonists in these Quartets make up a family saga, with Rosalind, her son and her great-great grandfather, who was a Philhellene, being the main characters.

Because these 8 books are actually one long family saga, seven generations from 1827 to the present day, I have had to keep my mind very well organised to remember who is related to who, keep the dates tidy, and it has been quite a challenge. Despite this massive link I have also had to work hard to keep each book as an independent and different read.

As the books developed I realised they captured an age, a time from the industrial revolution but before the digital age. I love planning out a book and particularly the research. It has been a passion to check the facts, making sure that they are accurate. Studying for my Open University degree taught me the importance of primary and secondary sources. If I say it was sunny on a certain date – it was! It is a great pleasure to work at my desk in Yorkshire with windows over-looking the hills or alternatively by the sea in Greece and have time to write.

More than 30 years in the Travel industry has introduced me to many wonderful places in the world, but our extensive travel around mainland Greece and its remote islands when we founded and ran our two travel companies for 25 years has taken us to remote and stunning areas of coastal and mountain Greece. In addition, we built a small house in the foothills of Mt. Parnon in the Peloponnese, overlooking the sea, where we learned to appreciate a lovely local community.

Social Media links: 

Twitter Name: WriterOfGreekNovels@zaritsi

Website Link: www.greco-file.com

Facebook links:

Facebook: Suzi Stembridge

Pennine Writers & Landscape Artists Capturing Greece

GREECE IS THE THEME

Jigsaw: Greek letters & Coming of Age – Two Quartets

Instagram: suzi.stembridge.writer

WordPress: authorofgreeknovels.wordpress.com

                     suzistembridge.wordpress.com

 Linkedin: Suzi Stembridge at Freelance Author and Writer

***

Many thanks for such a great blog, Suzi.

Come back next Thursday to read 500 words from Madeline Black.

Happy reading,

Jenny x

Opening Lines: Jane Risdon’s Renza’s Diary (Only One Woman)

I am delighted to welcome the lovely Jane Risdon to my blog, with her ‘Opening Lines’ from Only One Woman.

Written in tandem with Christina Jones, Jane is sharing the first 500 words from her part of the story, Renza’s Diary.

Over to you Jane… 

It is 1968 and Renza is about to go to Germany with her family, joining her father who is working there with the MoD. She’s facing 3 years overseas and isn’t happy. Scott and his band, Narnia’s Children, move next door to her. They are over from the Channel Islands to tour and record their first single. It is love at first sight but it is short-lived. Vowing undying love and secretly becoming engaged, Renza leaves for Germany within weeks, Scott believes the band will be in Germany soon and they can meet up. Renza promises to come back to England as often as she can. Narnia’s Children tour up and down the country and one night they take the stage at St. Barnaby’s Hall where he sets eyes on Stella who has only days to live, she is convinced. Set in the UK music scene of the late 1960’s Only One Woman is sheer nostalgia: the music, fashions, the changing society of the Swinging Sixties, the Cold War, and so much more – a love triangle set in Europe, the Mediterranean, Jersey and England in the grooviest decade of the 20th century by Christina Jones and Jane Risdon.

First 500 words from Renza’s Diary (Only One Woman)

May 24th 1968 – late

What a flipping nightmare of an evening. I really thought I’d never get home in one piece. Everything that could go wrong, went wrong. Someone up there hates me I’m sure.

If only Selina hadn’t lost her handbag at the Top Rank, I’d have caught the last bus back from Reading and I would’ve been home on time. Instead I’d gone back with the others to look for it – thankfully it had been handed in at the cloakroom and nothing was missing. Luckily I had just enough money for the train, which I’d had to run for. Selina’s dad took the others home in his brand new car as arranged, and there wasn’t room for me as well. I reckon he could’ve taken me but Yvette refused to let me sit on her lap in the front, in case I ripped her Mary Quant stockings. Sometimes I really want to do her a mischief.

They’ve got to do something about our local station, it’s just too creepy for words. Steam from the train almost suffocated me as I crossed the bridge to the exit on the opposite platform; all very ‘Brief Encounter’ I remember thinking, in an effort to stop my mind wandering off into ‘Hitchcock-land.’ Talk about cough myself silly, and my eyes stung something rotten as I tried to find my way in the pitch black; the two over-head lamps didn’t help much, they should do something about those flipping lights, I could’ve broken my neck, or even worse, tripped over in my new pink kitten heels and broken one of them.

I slowly took the steps down to the lane beside the station, glancing around me all the while – I admit it, I was a little freaked out. It’s always deserted, and you can never be too careful. Not long ago a dangerous prisoner escaped from the nearby asylum and hid in the waiting room for days before being recaptured. Hardly anyone uses the station since the cut-backs by that old idiot, Beeching, and the trains are a bit hit and miss since they messed with the timetable, so the convict was able to wait for his twisted ankle to mend without much danger of discovery. For all I knew, another Jack the Ripper could’ve be lurking in there waiting for me to pass, that’d just be my flaming luck.

I was in so much trouble. Forty minutes later than agreed. She’d never believe me about the bag, but no other excuse came to mind as I walked down the lane. I was going to be so dead.

Oh God!

I had such a fright. Something or someone, made a noise behind me, so I stopped and listened, but I really felt like running. Some sort of night creature, silly girl, I decided as I walked on. But there it was again. Was someone behind me?

I turned and peered into the pitch dark – I’m still shaking as I write this…

***

Author Jane Risdon
 
 
 
Only One Woman Accent Press
Only One Woman Facebook

 

***

Many thanks Jane.

Don’t forget to come back next week for 500 words from Elizabeth Ducie.

Happy reading,

Jenny xx

 

 

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