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Tag: Lorna Peel

Guest Blog from Lorna Peel: Life in Ireland during World War Two

I’m delighted to welcome Lorna Peel to my blog today, as part of the blog tour for her brand new book, Into the Unknown.

Over to you Lorna…


The Irish Free State remained neutral during ‘The Emergency’, as the Second World War was called in Ireland – the only member of the British Commonwealth to do so. An estimated seventy thousand men and women served in the British armed forces, including almost five thousand members of the Irish Defence Forces who deserted to fight.

Kate’s father, mother and grandmother lived in Co Galway on the west coast of Ireland. Kate’s father was a solicitor and despite having a good job, they couldn’t afford to be extravagant. He had a car but with petrol priced one shilling and sixpence per gallon and rationed, the car was only used to get him to and from work. By 1942, petrol was so scarce that most private cars were off the road.

During The Emergency, every person was issued with a ration book. Goods rationed included tobacco, butter, tea, sugar, flour, soap and clothing. Inside each ration book were several pages of instructions in both Irish and English followed by pages of numbered squares, either marked by the product name (Flour, Tea, etc.) or containing a letter to be used for different purchases. Space was also provided for keeping details of when, where and what was bought.

Kate’s mother had approximately four pounds per weeks for housekeeping. She cooked on a rather antiquated solid fuel range which was powered by a turf (peat) as coal was no longer available for domestic use. Overall, the Sheridans did not fare too badly as, unlike in the United Kingdom, eggs and meat were not rationed as most people had their own animals to provide these necessities. Mrs Sheridan kept chickens to produce eggs and for eating and any surplus eggs would be bartered for other commodities at the local shop, where she also bought flour for baking in eight-stone bags. In January 1941, the tea ration was two ounces per person per week, but by April it was reduced to once ounce. Like in the United Kingdom, rationing continued long after the end of the war.

Censorship of the press was rigid. Critical commentary was not allowed and no weather reports were printed so, apart from letters which were read and censored, the Sheridans would have known relatively little about the war and Kate’s part in it.



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“You don’t know much about my family, do you?” She frowned. “I’ll tell you, seeing as we’re stuck here for the time being. My father is a solicitor in Galway but he met Mummy at a wedding here in London. They live a few miles outside Galway now, beside the sea. Granny Barbara can’t stand him and makes no secret of the fact that she thinks Mummy married beneath her. Daddy and Granny Norah are Catholic but Mummy is Church of England, and when Mummy announced she wanted to marry Daddy there was uproar. Granny Barbara and Granddad Thomas were completely against it, but Mummy and Daddy were completely for it.”

“So what happened?” Charlie asked.

“Granddad Thomas and Daddy came to an arrangement. Mummy could marry Daddy, but any children they had who were born in Ireland would be brought up Church of England, not Catholic. It’s always amazed me that Daddy agreed, but Granddad Thomas was quite frightening, from what very little I remember of him. He died when I was five, a few months after Mummy, Daddy and I were here on a visit.”

“He was,” Charlie smiled, “very Victorian in his outlook. He used to frighten the life out of me. He caught me smoking in the garden once. I was about fifteen and I can remember him bellowing at me, ‘Are you smoking a cigarette, boy? A gentleman smokes a cigar.’ He gave me a cigar and the thing almost gave me bronchitis, so I stayed with cigarettes.” He laughed. “So were you brought up Church of England?”

“I was baptised Church of Ireland, which is Anglican, too. Apparently, Daddy stood outside the church and refused to go in.” She sighed. “They really needn’t have bothered because I’ve no time for religion. Poor Mummy, she tries so hard. She’s on every committee there is, but means well, even if the locals do still call her the ‘blow-in’ after twenty-two years.”


“She sounds exactly like Helen and Granny Barbara—that very posh English accent—and it rubs some people up the wrong way because they think she’s putting it on. Poor Mummy; she’ll never fit in, no matter how hard she tries. Daddy’s only brother, Michael, fought in the Irish War of Independence against the British. He got shot shortly before the Truce in 1921 but didn’t die for a long, long time. Daddy paid for him to be looked after in a nursing home. I was about four when he died. That’s why Daddy is a bit, you know, about Britain. There’s no reasoning with him. Everything is all Britain’s fault, according to him, but he’s not involved in anything. I know you were wondering, Charlie,” she finished softly.



London on 3 September 1939 is in upheaval. War is inevitable. Into this turmoil steps Kate Sheridan, newly arrived from Ireland to live with her aunt and uncle, and look for work. When she meets Flight Lieutenant Charlie Butler sparks fly, but he is a notorious womaniser. Should she ignore all the warnings and get involved with a ladies man whose life will be in daily danger?

Charlie Butler has no intention of getting involved with a woman. But when he meets Kate his resolve is shattered. Should he allow his heart to rule his head and fall for a nineteen-year-old Irish girl while there is a war to fight?

Private conflicts and personal doubts are soon overshadowed. Will the horrors of war bring Kate and Charlie together or tear them apart?


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Author Bio and Links

Lorna Peel is an author of contemporary and historical romantic fiction. She has had work published in three Irish magazines – historical articles on The Stone of Scone in ‘Ireland’s Own’, on The Irish Potato Famine in the ‘Leitrim Guardian’ – and Lucy’s Lesson, a contemporary short story in ‘Woman’s Way’.

Her first novel, Only You, a contemporary romance, was published in 2014. Into The Unknown, an historical novel set during WWII, will be published on 5 May 2015.

Lorna was born in England and lived in North Wales until her family moved to Ireland to become farmers, which is a book in itself! She lives in rural Ireland, where she write, researches her family history, and grows fruit and vegetables. She also keeps chickens (and a Guinea Hen who now thinks she’s a chicken!).

Thank you for hosting me, Jenny!


Many thanks for dropping by today Lorna,

Good luck on your blog tour,

Jenny xx



Guest Post from Lorna Peel: Writing Genealogy Fiction

I’m delighted to welcome Lorna Peel to my site today as part of her blog tour to celebrate the release of her latest work, Only You.

Over to you Lorna…

Writing Genealogy Fiction

Genealogy is the fastest growing hobby in the United Kingdom and North America. So I find it surprising that there aren’t more novels with a family history theme to appeal to this vast and ever-expanding market. Is it because people have a preconceived idea in their heads that all genealogists are nerds and geeks and only want to interact with dead people? I hope not, because in the many libraries and archives I have undertaken research in, I have seen genealogists, both amateur and professional, of all ages and from all walks of life. So the clichéd image of the nerdy genealogist is something I want to try and do away with.

I have always enjoyed reading thrillers and mysteries, but I didn’t want to write a predictable police procedural. A novel featuring a genealogist, or someone who teaches family history evening classes in Jane Hollinger’s case, is a great way of offering a new perspective on romantic fiction as it combines mystery with history. It also gave me the chance to write about what I know.

Just as in police detective work, researching family histories involves interviews, collecting evidence, following clues, piecing together puzzles and finding missing links. To keep this vital part of the story accurate, I drew on my experience researching my own varied family history. Only You will appeal to romantics, genealogists and mystery fans, combining the obsessions of this compelling hobby with a dark, outwardly impenetrable mystery in a unique way.

Only You


The phone rang and she jumped. The number displayed was unfamiliar and she closed her eyes, hoping that it wasn’t yet another double-glazing salesperson.


“Jane Hollinger?” a male voice asked.


“This is Robert Armstrong. I hope you don’t mind, I found the number for your old genealogy research service in an old Yellow Pages.”

Mind? Her heart began to thump. “Er, no, not at all.”

“It’s just that I actually did start on my family tree and I’ve come across something a bit weird.”


“Yeah, I found the birth, marriage, and death indexes on the net and it looks as though I had a twin brother I knew nothing about.”

“Are you sure?” She managed to sound calm.

“Positive. There was another name on the list above mine, a Michael David Armstrong. My full name is Robert David Armstrong, so I thought it was a bit weird and I ordered the birth certificate.”

“You’ve known nothing about a twin at all?”

“Nothing. No one’s ever said that I was a twin. It says nothing about me being a twin on my birth certificate.”

“Did you check the death indexes? Maybe he died soon after he was born?”

“No, I haven’t had time yet. What do you think? Strange, eh?”

“It is strange,” she admitted. “I think you should have a chat with your parents.”

There was a long silence and she began to squirm. She took the phone into the kitchen and sat down at the table.

“My parents and I don’t see eye-to-eye, actually. They didn’t want me to become an actor. We haven’t spoken in years.”

Blimey, how did he manage to keep that out of the press? “Oh, I see. Well, what about grandparents? Aunts, uncles?”

“I was close to my maternal grandparents, but they’re both dead now.” She heard a wry laugh. “I’m not making this very easy for you, am I?”

He could say that again. “Well, the first thing you should do is to try and see whether Michael David Armstrong is still alive.”

“Yes. But if he is, he could be anywhere.”

“I know. I’m more used to tracing dead people!” she laughed.

“You think I should make contact and speak to my parents?”

“That’s not for me to say.”

“You get on with your parents?” he asked.

“Yes, very well. Do you have any other brothers or sisters?”

“No, I don’t, that’s why this is so weird. I had no idea I had a twin brother.”

“Search forward in the General Register Office death indexes when you’ve time.”

“Yes, I will. Look, thanks, Jane.”

“No problem.”

“Mitch Burns is well and truly dead now, by the way,” he continued.

“I won’t say I’m sorry to hear that!”

“I thought not. Look, can I buy you a drink sometime as a thank you?”

“There’s no need,” she heard herself tell him and pulled an agonised face. “You bought me the lovely roses.”

“I heard Diana tell Dave they were probably stolen.” He laughed. “Mitch Burns was a bastard and probably would have stolen them. From a cemetery, I’d say!”

“Why play someone like that?” Her curiosity got the better of her.

“To see if I could. And to make sure that I’m not typecast. I’d hate to be offered the same type of roles all the time.”

“So the sex-mad genealogist is next?”

“Yes. In a couple of weeks. Which might give me enough time to try and solve the mystery of the missing twin.”

“Look, about that drink…” she began.

“I’ve got you curious now, haven’t I?” He chuckled. “I can gather all my stuff together and meet you in The Crown sometime?”

“Yes.” It came out as a squeak. She quickly covered the mouthpiece and cleared her throat. “When would suit you?”

“Tomorrow? I can’t do Tuesday because I have an interview with a journalist.”

“Tomorrow’s fine. Eight o’clock?”

“Eight o’clock it is. I’ll see you then.”

She ended the call and put the handset down on the table. She had almost talked herself out of a drink with Robert Armstrong. “You stupid, stupid cow.”



Jane Hollinger is the wrong side of thirty, divorced and struggling to pay the mortgage her cheating ex left her with. As a qualified genealogist, teaching family history evening classes is a way for her to make ends meet. But she begins to wonder if it’s such a good idea when a late enroller for the class is a little… odd. “Badly-blond Bloke” both scares and intrigues Jane, and when she discovers he is her all-time favourite actor and huge crush, Robert Armstrong, she’s stunned. Even more stunning to Jane is the fact that Robert is interested in her romantically. He’s everything she ever dreamed of, and more, but can she overcome her fear of living in the public eye to be with the man she loves?


About me:

Lorna Peel is an author of contemporary and historical romantic fiction. She has had work published in three Irish magazines – historical articles on The Stone of Scone in ‘Ireland’s Own’, on The Irish Potato Famine in the ‘Leitrim Guardian’, and Lucy’s Lesson, a contemporary short story in ‘Woman’s Way’. Lorna was born in England and lived in North Wales until her family moved to Ireland to become farmers, which is a book in itself! She lives in rural Ireland, where she write, researches her family history, and grows fruit and vegetables. She also keeps chickens (and a Guinea Hen who now thinks she’s a chicken!).

Thank you for featuring me on your blog, Jenny!



Thanks again for coming by Lorna! Don’t miss any of the other stops on Lorna’s tour –

Happy reading,

Jenny xx



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