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The fourth book in the Kershaw sisters series
Life in 1905 is hard for Mary Ann. It rapidly becomes worse when her new stepfather begins to abuse her. Sent away at 15 to bear his child, she meets Gabriel Clough who helps her escape to Blackpool after the birth. It is not until her mother dies that Mary Ann returns to uncover the secrets of her past.
From the Author
I didn't realize when I began writing the first Kershaw Sisters tale - on a plane going to England - that I was starting a series of four books that would take me into the UK bestseller charts for the first time. Nor did I realize how fascinated I'd become by the women's side of World War I.
So many novels have been written about the part men played and the war itself, but far fewer have focused on the home front and the part women played - not to mention the way the war opened up new horizons for women.
The names of the four sisters come from my own family. My grandmother was born the same year as Lizzie, so as I wrote, I tied the story in to what she and my mother had told me about her life. She was one of 12 children and I think my great-grandmother must have been a remarkable woman to manage them so well.
Mary Ann is the oldest sister, illegitimate and doesn't even know she's a Kershaw any more than they know about her - yet. After a difficult childhood she grows into a strong woman, who makes a success of life, whether it's managing a tea shop, working as a stewardess on a ship bringing Belgian refugees back to England, or serving as one of Lady Bingram's Aides. The latter was a group of young women gathered by her ladyship to be used in a voluntary capacity to assist the government in whatever it needed, whether driving officers round London, or running a club for servicemen.
Incidentally, this is not only one of my own favorite tales, but my daughter's favorite among my books and she was 'blown away' by what it taught her about women and the Great War. So was I! Their efforts were, I feel, undervalued afterward.
But this isn't a history lesson, it's a powerful story of a courageous young woman making something from what might have been a disastrous life.