Big Dreams for the West End Girls by Elaine Roberts @RobertsElaine11 @Aria_Fiction

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.

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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.

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Blog Tour: Christmas at the Foyles Bookshop (The Foyles Girls #3) by Elaine Roberts

About the Book:


With the war raging on, can there be peace, love and joy this Christmas?

London, 1917. After her parents died in a tragic accident, Victoria did everything she could to keep her siblings safe and off the streets. Working at the Foyles Bookshop with her best friends is a dream come true – but now the war has put everything she holds dear in danger.
With her brother fighting on the frontline, Victoria wants to do her part. Little does she know that volunteering to spend time with injured soldiers at Endell Street Military Hospital will reward her in ways she could never have imagined. There are family secrets to uncover, along with love, once lost but never forgotten.
This Christmas, all the Foyles girls want is their loved ones back safe and sound…
The final heartwarming novel in the Foyles Girls trilogy, Christmas at the Foyles Bookshop is 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 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.

Follow Elaine:

Twitter: @RobertsElaine11



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My Review:
Christmas at the Foyles Bookshop is the third book in a trilogy by Elaine Roberts. 
The Foyles Bookshop girls are back. It’s nearing Christmas time at Foyles Bookshop near Charing Cross in London and work colleagues and friends Alice, Molly and Victoria are back at work. 
I have always loved the atmosphere of the iconic bookshop. 
Victoria is the character most focused on in this book. She still hasn’t got over her parents’ death, 7 years before the events of this novel. 
 She has the support of her sister Daisy who she in turn looks after and together they get through life any way they can. 
Victoria is promoted from being in the payment booth to a floor manager and also volunteers at Endell Street Military Hospital. There, she meets Mabel, a friendly nurse who is very upbeat despite the horrific injuries she often witnesses. The ward they are on is only small, but is a vital care facility for the area as is the hospital in general. 
There’s plenty of tea and cakes in this book and this is how Molly and her friends catch up and gossip. 
Molly is back after an accident in the munitions factory she worked in for awhile and her friends are overjoyed to see her. 
Apart from the weather and the book title and cover image, there’s not much “Christmas” in this book until near the end. 
I was hooked by the basement scenes and I too felt the friends’ nervousness at being in such a place, but at the same time it felt to me like a real treasure trove with all those books! 
I felt for Victoria and Daisy as they went through their parents’ things. 
Elaine Roberts has written an interesting final novel in the Foyles Girls series and one thing can be certain: Molly Victoria and Alice can always be counted on to be supportive towards each other whatever happens. 
Christmas at the Foyles Bookshop is a quick, feel-good book set in World War 1 and is about the power of true friends despite huge adversities. There’s love here too as Molly has a boyfriend. Passion for work despite an intimidating and formidable boss and trying to see happiness in life despite the war. 
Thanks to Elaine Roberts and Aria for my ARC in exchange for an honest and voluntary review. I’m glad to have reviewed all 3 books in the series and also been on the blog tours. 
3,5 stars. 

Victoria Appleton’s slender fingers clutched the brown envelope in her coat pocket, while the other hand gripped the wooden handle of her black umbrella. The wind tussled it from side to side, trying to whip it away from her. It was March 1917 and the war was still raging on. No one could see an end to it. The longer it went on, the more she worried she wouldn’t see her younger brother, Stephen, again.

Then there was Ted, the first real love of her life, a love that had never faded over the years. She remembered writing her name and his on any spare bits of paper she could find, and they were always accompanied by lots of hearts. She’d always thought their names were meant to be together, Victoria and Edward Marsden. Practising her signature had brought it all to life until her teenage dream had tragically unravelled. When Ted wrote from the frontline, asking for her forgiveness, she had been thrilled to receive his letter. Her dream had been reignited, but now writing to him just reminded her of what was unobtainable. There had been no messages of love from him.

Perhaps everyone was right, it was time to move on. Victoria reluctantly let go of the envelope, to hold the umbrella steady. Her breath came out in grey wisps, blending into the low clouds. There was no rhythmic patter as the rain pounded against the fabric of the umbrella. She pulled it lower, the icy rain spiking at her face. The puddles and the rivers of water running down Tottenham Court Road were testament that it had been raining all night. Victoria immediately thought about her brother, sitting in the trenches on the frontline. He often wrote about standing up to his ankles in water, with rats for company, as he waited for the Germans to attack them, or for orders to go over the top. She shook her head, shaking away the images she had conjured up. She couldn’t allow herself to think about the war. Since it had begun in 1914, she had only read about death and destruction on the frontline.

The Horseshoe Brewery came into view. Victoria was grateful that the weather had dulled the usual stench from the spent grain left fermenting in the storage bins outside. She quickened her pace as she crossed New Oxford Street. Traders and their barrows were already set up. The aroma of vegetable soup followed her down the road, along with the chorus of voices shouting into the wind, offering their wares. The door to the popular George Tavern, on the corner of George Yard, was ajar as a grey-haired woman wearing a mob cap shook out a piece of rag.

‘Morning luvvie, init miserable today?’

Victoria nodded. ‘It certainly is.’

‘You take care now and mind you don’t catch your death, being out in this.’ The lady nodded and waved her piece of rag around, before disappearing inside the public house.

A smile formed on Victoria’s lips. That was something her own mother would have said to her on a day like this, but she only had her memories to give her comfort now.

Victoria frowned. ‘Get a grip, what’s with all the maudlin thoughts today?’ She shook her head. ‘Right, only happy thoughts from now on.’ Smiling, she looked around and wondered if anybody could hear her talking to herself. Laughter rippled through her as she imagined what Molly would have to say about it. Today was her friend’s first day back at Foyles Bookshop; the three of them were back together again. Despite the cold wet weather, she smiled again. Alice, Molly and herself were like the three musketeers. She giggled as her thoughts started to run away from her. What was the saying? Oh yes, ‘all for one and one for all’.

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Blog Tour: The Foyles Bookshop Girls at War (The Foyles Girls #2) by Elaine Roberts

 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.


Follow Elaine:

Twitter: @RobertsElaine11

Facebook: @ElaineRobertsAuthor

 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!
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My Review: 

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.

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