Big Dreams for the West End Girls by Elaine Roberts
Publication date: 3rd June 2021
About the Book:
Nothing will stop her – not even the war!
1914. Working in a bustling café on London’s Shaftesbury Avenue, Joyce Taylor dreams of opening her own restaurant. But when the man she loves enlists in the war, and a surprise request comes through from her dying grandmother, Joyce’s life gets turned upside down.
Struggling to keep the café afloat with her new-found responsibilities, it’s not long before Joyce starts to feel the pressure might be all too much. Luckily, her supportive friends Annie and Rose are on hand to help. Despite all the madness, can Joyce find a way to make her dreams come true? And will her love story have a happy ending?
Annie, Rose and Joyce are three girls with very different dreams – but the same great friendship. From the author of the Foyles Bookshop series, Big Dreams for the West End Girls is a charming and uplifting WW1 saga, perfect for fans of Daisy Styles and Rosie Hendry.
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 again until she picked up her dream again in 2010. She joined a creative writing class, The Write Place, in 2012 and shortly afterwards had her first short story published. Elaine and her extended family live in and around Dartford, Kent and her home is always busy with visiting children, grandchildren, grand dogs and cats.
Where to Buy:
Google Play: https://bit.ly/3hLodK5
Joyce Taylor dropped the dirty dishes in the sink at London’s Meet and Feast Café. Turning round, her eyes widened as she stared at Simon Hitchin. ‘I can’t believe this. Why are you telling me now?’ She mopped away beads of perspiration. ‘What will you do?’
The bell above the café door chimed for what felt like the hundredth time in the last half an hour. Joyce peered through the serving hatch.
Simon shrugged, fighting the urge to wrap his arms around her as he took in how hot and worn out she looked. ‘I may not have any choice.’
Two stout grey-haired ladies stepped inside, jostling with their shopping bags. ‘Well, Enid, at least ’aving to keep yer ’ead down against that wind yer don’t see those blooming Kitchener war posters everywhere.’ The bell rang out again as the door slammed shut behind them.
Was he serious about closing the café? She would have no excuse to see him every day. Joyce looked back at the man she loved. He looked as tired as she felt. She tried to batten down the love she felt for him, fighting the urge to wrap her arms around him. Now wasn’t the time to show her feelings for him. What would she do if he rejected her? She would end up losing her job and any chance of them having a future together. ‘I can tell you this, Simon: it’s your café so you need to decide whether you can just let go of your father’s dream. No one can decide for you.’
Her hand automatically rested on the locket she wore around her neck as she found herself repeating her late father’s words. ‘There’s always a choice. You may not like it, but there’s always a choice.’ Once the words were out she did wonder if that was true; after all look where she had ended up.
She sighed. ‘I’ve got to get back to work. I’ve got Uncle Arthur clearing tables and making pots of tea, bless him. He only popped in for a cuppa. We’re so busy again today. If the last month or so continues then we’re going to need to hire some help.’
Simon sighed. ‘I know, I just don’t know how I’m going to pay the wages. It’s hard enough finding the money for the rent and to pay you for the wonderful cakes and bread you make. I don’t seem to have time to stop to think about it all.’
Joyce blushed, remembering how he had encouraged her to bring in a cake she had baked so he could try it. ‘Thank you, I’m obviously pleased you enjoyed my baking and encouraged it…’ She closed her eyes for a second, trying not to think about how her feelings had changed in the years she had worked for him. ‘But you just need to make some changes because getting the people through the door isn’t the problem.’ Forcing herself to smile, Joyce marched back into the café.
Enid scanned the occupied tables and looked over at Joyce. ‘Hello, lovey, yer busy again today. Can yer squeeze two small ones in?’
Joyce couldn’t help smiling as the woman dropped her shopping bag and unwrapped her woollen scarf. ‘I’m sure we can, Enid. Take a seat.’ Joyce indicated the chairs standing against the wall. ‘It might be five minutes though.’ She turned her attention to her order pad, adding cake to an existing bill for the young soldier and his girl sitting at table nine. She crossed it out again, ignoring the guilt that took hold of her – the least she could do was give them free tea and cake.
Enid rubbed her hands together. ‘That’s all right. At least it’s warm in ’ere.’ She looked around her before turning to her friend. ‘We mustn’t forget to tell that young soldier over there that we’re proud and they’re all doing a good job protecting us. They need to know we’re behind ’em every step of the way; after all they’re laying their lives on the line for our king and country.’ Enid glanced back at Joyce. ‘I was reading in the paper about that Zeppelin raid on Sandringham. These are scary times.’
Joyce dropped her pencil on the counter and tucked a stray strand of brown hair behind her ear. ‘I’ve heard customers talking about it.’ She paused. ‘I’m not sure I even know what a Zeppelin is.’
Enid shrugged before giving Joyce a bleak look. ‘I fink it’s like a giant hot air balloon, only it carries bombs and people.’
Joyce shook her head. ‘It’s frightening and you can’t help wondering what can come of it, except death and destruction.’ She automatically adjusted the frilled straps of the bib to her treasured knee-length white apron. Her slender fingers sought her embroidered name in the corner, which her mother had lovingly stitched before she had unexpectedly passed away with tuberculosis. Would she be disappointed if she knew Joyce was a waitress in a café instead of the great cook she imagined she would be? That dream had died with her mother. Had she made the right decisions? Had she felt she had a choice? Joyce sighed. What did it matter? It all seemed a lifetime ago now.