About the Author:
Elaine Roberts had a dream to write for a living. She completed her first novel in her twenties and received her first very nice rejection. Life then got in the way until she picked up her dream again in 2010 and shortly afterwards had her first short story published. Elaine and her patient husband, Dave, have five children who have flown the nest. Home is in Dartford, Kent and is always busy with their children, grandchildren, grand dogs and cats visiting.
About the Book:
‘A delightful story of friendship, love and hope during the dark days of WW1. Elaine Roberts is a bright new star in the world of sagas’ Elaine Everest.
Swapping books for the bomb factory takes courage – and could be dangerous.
Working at the Foyles bookshop was Molly Cooper’s dream job. But with the country at war she’s determined to do her bit. So Molly gathers her courage, and sets off for the East End and her first day working at Silvertown munitions factory…
It’s hard manual labour, and Molly must face the trials and tribulations of being the ‘new girl’ at the munitions factory, as well as the relentless physical work.
The happy-ever-afters Molly read about in the pages of her beloved books have been lost to the war. And yet the munitions girls unite through their sense of duty and friendships that blossom in the most unlikely of settings…
Perfect for fans of Elaine Everest, Daisy Styles and Rosie Hendry.
Look out for the next in the Elaine Roberts’ heartwarming series The Foyles Girls series, Christmas at the Foyles Bookshop, coming soon!
Where to Buy:
Google Play: http://bit.ly/2QHdcNt
Hooray! Elaine Roberts and the Foyles Bookshop Girls are back! I loved book #1 and was eager for this. Molly sees herself wondering about life outside her beloved Foyles Bookshop where she works with friends. England is at war and it is with a heavy heart but also courage that she starts work at the munitions factory in Silvertown in the East End of London.
Molly hides the fact she’s changed jobs from her parents and cycles to work to come back shattered after hours of gruelling work in noisy conditions that are as far removed from the atmosphere of Foyles as you can get. Molly is a sensitive person and is in tears more than once over various things. She tries to make the best of life but at times I was thinking “go back to Foyles.” The book was heartbreaking in some parts and so well detailled throughout that I felt I was with Molly.
Elaine Roberts has a gift at creating a convincing wartime London atmosphere and I was uneasy over the description of the munitions factory and routines. I was so glad Molly could still meet her friends and there were some very real, very understandable conflicts between them after Molly leaves. but they still make the effort to see each other.
You’ll have to read the book to find out more but suffice it to say that this is an excellent second book in the series. I got into it quickly and it was wonderful to see the Foyles girls again. I’d love to review a copy of Christmas at Foyles and anything else Elaine Roberts writes. Another excellent book from one of my favourite historical fiction authors.
Huge thanks to Elaine Roberts and Aria for my ARC in exchange for an honest and voluntary review and a place on the blog tour for this title.
Click HERE to read my review of The Foyles Bookshop Girls, book #1 in the Foyles Girls series.
Elaine Roberts Q&A – Katherine’s Book Universe
Where did the idea for the plot come from?
The central plot idea for The Foyles Bookshop Girls At War came from my research into World War One. It was while researching my first book, The Foyles Bookshop Girls, that I became aware of the explosion, which took place at the Silvertown munitions factory. As I researched it further, I found photographs showing the devastation, as well as podcasts from women who actually worked there at the time. These were so moving and eye-opening, that I decided to base my plot around it.
Who is your favourite character? Why?
I like them all for various reasons and they have very different personalities, but if I had to choose, I’d say Molly is my favourite. I think it’s because there’s a little bit of me in her. She can be a little bit cheeky at times and her sense of humour can get her into trouble. She also comes across as very confident, but really she’s hiding a host of insecurities that no one sees. She’s trying to find her place in society.
Who is your least favourite character? Why?
My least favourite in this book is Flo. She is a young girl who wanted the same wage and rights as the men of that time, but she didn’t know how to go about getting them. Consequently, she caused herself and others problems.
Which is your favourite scene in the book? Why?
That’s difficult. I have two very different scenes that I enjoyed writing and both of them hit an emotional response within me.
The first one is where Molly finds herself kissing her boss in Hyde Park. This goes against everything she believes to be right, yet she can’t help herself. Part of Molly’s personality is that she is always trying to do the right thing for other people, and not for herself. She is a complex character.
The second scene was the explosion at the munitions factory, which I found very emotional to write, and then read back. It brought home to me the danger that women of that time put themselves in.
What do you most like to do when you are not writing?
I enjoy relaxing with my family, five children and three grandchildren can keep you on your toes. I enjoy crosswords, word games, Suduko and reading. There’s nothing better than losing yourself in a good book, although I have to say I don’t read as much as I used to, but that’s because of my writing. I am also a great people watcher and I’m always creating stories in my head from my observations.
What’s the story behind why and how you became an author?
As a child, I was always reading books by Enid Blyton and C.S.Lewis, to name just two authors that captured my imagination. I grew up having a dream to write for a living, but I didn’t think it was open to everyday people like me. I did complete my first novel in my twenties and received a very nice, encouraging rejection. Life then got in the way until circumstances made me re-evaluate my life, and I picked up my dream again in 2010. I joined a creative writing class, The Write Place, in 2012 and shortly afterwards had my first short story published. I was thrilled when many more followed and I finally started to believe in myself.
I became a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association New Writer’s Scheme, which gives you a critique every year on a manuscript. I also attended many of their conferences, workshops, seminars and wonderful parties. Meeting other writers gave me encouragement, finding that most face, or have faced similar problems, so were able to offer valuable advice and encouragement.
What is your favourite movie? Why?
Gosh, this is a difficult question. I have just spent an hour with my husband, discussing films we have seen, and I’m no nearer to narrowing it down to one. I’m not so keen on books being made into films, mainly because I tend to prefer the books, but there are always exceptions to that view. So I’ve come up with a shortlist of three, and even then I’m scared I’ve forgotten one.
My first is The Chronicles of Narnia. This is pure escapism and brings back memories of me hiding under the bedcovers with a torch, reading the books.
My second is Back To The Future. It is cleverly written and when it was released, many moons ago, I was fascinated with how Marty MCFly saw himself when he went back in time.
My third is It’s A Wonderful Life. This is purely because of the message it gives. We all touch each other’s lives without even realising it.
Do you have a favourite book?
I don’t have a favourite, because I read books from various genres. However, I do have books where the story line has stuck with me. P.S. I love You by Cecelia Ahern, The Ice Cream Girls by Dorothy Koomson and My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult are just a few, but there are so many more.
How about some advice for me to reach my dream of publishing?
I’m still in the infancy of my writing career, but I’d say believe in yourself and don’t give up, because even best selling authors have stories of numerous rejections. Take the time to learn your craft. I liken it to learning to play a piano at school – the fact that you can play doesn’t make you a concert pianist, just as learning to write doesn’t make you a good storyteller. I’d also advise joining organisations like The Romantic Novelists’ Association and The SWWJ, where published writers can critique your manuscripts. Don’t stop learning; I still attend workshops and seminars. I also believe we all need a little luck on our side.
Do you have any plans for another book?
I am currently writing the third book in The Foyles Bookshop Girls Series, Christmas At The Foyles Bookshop, which will be Victoria’s story. This novel will take the girls to the end of 1917, so there will be scope to take the three girls to the end of the war in 1918 at least.
I keep a note of all possible ideas for future novels, but I daren’t give them too much thought until I have finished the one I’m writing.
Molly’s lips lifted as she remembered the nervous excitement of her first day working at Foyles. The large sign outside, declaring them to be the largest bookseller in London, shouted at the passers-by, inviting them in. It promised refunds of two thirds of the price, if the book was returned after being read. Once she had walked into the shop, it was like entering another world. The musty smell of the second hand books, stacked along the shelves, had seemed endless. She had been overwhelmed when she realised it spread over six floors and every nook and cranny had been crammed with books.
A lot had happened since that day. Molly crossed her arms, holding herself tight. She bit down on her lip in a bid to stop her chin from trembling. Would she ever love again? The shop doors thudded shut and bolts were drawn across, pulling Molly away from her brooding.
Mr Leadbetter stared at her hunched shoulders. ‘Your family must be very proud of you, taking on the challenges that this war has thrown at everyone. The men have an obvious bravery about them, but the women that have been left behind are doing an exceptional job picking up the pieces.’
Molly’s grip tightened around her waist. ‘Does that mean we might get the vote when this is all over?’
‘Who knows, Miss Cooper? Unfortunately, that’s not my decision to make.’ Mr Leadbetter arched his eyebrows. ‘Do you follow the political musings of our government?’
Molly glanced over her shoulder at her manager. ‘I must admit, I didn’t until the war started, but now I read the news every day.’ She looked back at the newspaper.
‘That’s good.’ Mr Leadbetter forced a smile. ‘It’s important to know what’s going on.’
‘I suppose, but the news is so gruesome all the time; so many deaths.’ Molly sighed. ‘Sometimes, I think I’d rather not know.’ She gave a little laugh. ‘Give me a good book any day.’
Mr Leadbetter clenched his lips tight for a second, fighting the urge to give her a fatherly hug. ‘Well, this is it. The time has come for you to say your goodbyes. I suspect everyone is waiting for you.’ He chuckled. ‘You’ve worked here for some time and everyone in Foyles will miss you.’
Molly took a deep breath and pasted on her best smile, before she swung round to face him. ‘I expect you’ll be happy to see the back of me, sir.’
‘On the contrary, there hasn’t been a day go by when you haven’t made me smile, even though you call me “old Leadbetter,” when you think I can’t hear you.’ His eyes sparkled and a smile lit up his normally stern features.
Her rising body temperature told Molly her face was turning a lovely shade of red. She lowered her head slightly. ‘Sorry, sir, it was rude of me, but I always thought you didn’t like me.’
‘Far from it, you have been like the daughter I never had.’ Mr Leadbetter coughed. ‘Sorry, I shouldn’t have said that; most inappropriate.’
Molly smiled at the elderly man standing in front of her. ‘On the contrary, there hasn’t been a day go by, when I haven’t felt I’ve been working with my father.’
Laughter burst from him. ‘I am sorry to see you leave us, but I do understand that young women like yourself are being put under pressure to do war work.’
Molly nodded. ‘My mother was thrilled when I started working here. She didn’t want me to go into domestic service.’ She sighed.
Mr Leadbetter frowned. ‘How does she feel about you going to the munitions’ factory? It’s not just hard work, it’s also dangerous.’
Molly lowered her lashes. Should she admit she hadn’t told her family yet? Would he think she was a bad person? She sucked in her breath and the words of her half-lie tripped over themselves to escape. ‘They’ll be fine, once they get used to the idea of it. They don’t like change very much.’
Mr Leadbetter nodded. ‘I don’t think many of us do.’
Molly looked up at him. His upright frame belied his age. She gave him a wry smile. ‘It does feel strange to know that, when I come in here again, it will be as a customer.’ She stroked the oak counter. ‘I’ve met some lovely people since I began working here, and I have a bedroom full of books that I can’t bear to part with.’ She looked around at the heaving shelves. ‘No more stacking books away. I shan’t miss the musty second hand ones, and dusting until it catches in the back of your throat, or fighting the daily temptation to buy books for the children that come into my section.’ She took a deep breath.
Mr Leadbetter’s eyes crinkled at the corners and a smile played on his lips as she spoke.
Molly glanced up at him. ‘You know, I always wanted to sit them down and read to them, help them to become book lovers.’
He frowned. ‘I’ve never heard you mention that before.’
She gave a little scathing sound. ‘I never thought anyone, least of all you, would be interested in anything I had to say.’
‘What, and yet you are quite outspoken.’ His eyes searched her face. ‘Rumour has it, you are not to be crossed, although having said that, you appear to be a very popular young lady.’
Molly laughed. ‘I don’t know about that, sir.’ She gave him a wide-eyed look. ‘It’s not about being popular, but about fitting in and being respected.’
Mr Leadbetter nodded. ‘It sounds like I have done you a disservice, Miss Cooper. However, I shall miss you, as indeed will your colleagues, but our loss is the munitions’ factory’s gain.’ He took a deep breath. ‘I wish you well there, but please be assured that all the time I am here, there will be a position for you.’
Molly nodded. She stood on the tips of her toes and kissed him on the cheek, taken aback by his deceptively soft skin. ‘I shall miss you too, and of course, everyone who works here.’
Thunderous applause and cheers filled the room. Molly spun round to a sea of faces beaming at her. Her friends of nearly twenty years, Alice Leybourne and Victoria Appleton, were at the front, clapping vigorously. Each were battling their demons and trying to survive. Molly fretted about her decision to leave Foyles and whether their friendship might suffer, but this was something she had to do. Their watery eyes told Molly much more than words could ever say. She blinked rapidly, in a bid to hold back the emotions that were in danger of engulfing her.
Alice stepped forward, no longer able to hold the tears in check, as they rolled down her cheeks. She sniffed and wiped her fingers across her damp face. ‘Well, Miss Molly Cooper, we have booked tables at Café Monico, for everyone to say their goodbyes and wish you well, so grab your things.’
Molly’s eyes glistened, but a ready smile came to her lips. ‘I don’t know, Alice, since you’ve had baby Arthur, you seem to shed tears at the drop of a hat. You and Victoria will probably see more of me than ever before.’
‘Yeah, well we won’t.’ A woman’s voice came from the back of the room.
Mr Leadbetter blinked quickly and cleared his throat. ‘I wouldn’t have thought that was possible. I mean, not working in the same place and all that.’
Molly glared up at him. He wasn’t helping the situation.
Alice stepped forward, sniffing into her handkerchief. ‘It won’t be the same as working with you.’ She sucked in her breath. Her lips formed a weak smile. ‘We won’t be able to have lunch together, or go out after we finish here.’
Mr Leadbetter gave the girls a smile. ‘Or be gossiping, when you should be working.’
Molly’s throat tightened.
‘That doesn’t sound like us.’ Victoria chuckled, attempting to follow Mr Leadbetter’s lead to lighten the moment.