Category Archives: My Books

Great review of Workhouse Orphans

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Workhouse Orphans is a fascinating and richly detailed book focusing on the poor of Victorian Liverpool and the world they live in.

In mid-Victorian Liverpool, two young children, May Lavender and her brother Gus are orphaned by the death of their mother. They are sent to the Workhouse, a cruel, cold place, where they are separated. Beaten by the teachers, starved and over worked, they manage to make friends and learn the skills they need to survive.

Finally escaping, May and Gus embark on difficult lives, always aware they are tainted by their past. May becomes a servant, and barely escapes an horrific fate to work in a department store, while Gus runs away to sea and becomes involved in the American Civil War.

Workhouse Orphans is a very enjoyable read. Holly Green has obviously done meticulous research for this book, and it shows in the level of detail. She clearly knows the history of Liverpool well, including the docks and the streets. I was fascinated by the scenes on the ships, and in the shops, and by the descriptions of Victorian Liverpool.

The lives of the two children, and their friends, manage to reflect the roles of the poor in Victorian England – abused, used, discarded and reliant on luck and friendship to see them through. Having said that, this isn’t a bleak book. May and Gus are likeable characters, and manage to navigate their way through the many dangers they meet. It’s the other characters who tend to fall victim to the darker side of Victorian life prostitution and abuse are everywhere. Holly Green doesn’t shy away from the ugly scenes, but she also shows us the strength and companionship these people had.

The characters are well-drawn, including the minor ones, and the places – not just Liverpool, but all over the world –  are vividly drawn. I knew nothing about Liverpool before reading this and now I want to visit.

I found Workhouse Orphans an absolutely compelling read that will appeal to those who like sagas of the poor and dispossessed making their way in the Victorian world.

Book Promotion

DAUGHTERS OF WAR, PASSIONS OF WAR and HARVEST OF WAR will be promoted by Sainsburies as part of their World War l Centenary e-books collection from July 21st to August 31st. In addition, they will be featured on the aerbook site from August 8th to 14th. People who click on the links below will be able to see the front cover and read an extract and then purchase if they so wish.

Daughters of War: http://aerbook.com/books/Daughters_of_War-8845.html

Passions of War: http://aerbook.com/books/Passions_of_War-8846.html

Harvest of War: http://aerbook.com/books/Harvest_of_War-8847.html

I am happy to announce, also, that APHRODITE’S ISLAND has been chosen as one of Kindle’s Summer Reads and will be available at a special price from July 18th to Sept 1st.

Long overdue memorial

I read in the paper over the weekend that there is going to be a memorial to Archibald McIndoe, the plastic surgeon who rebuilt the faces of young airmen terribly burned when their aircraft caught fire in WWll. It is not before time! He was a great man, who not only repaired their faces but rebuilt their confidence, encouraging them to go out into the world instead of hiding away. He worked at the hospital in East Grinstead and persuaded the people of the town to accept these disfigured young men as the heroes they were. East Grinstead became known as ‘the town that didn’t stare’.
I feel strongly about this as I researched his work for my novels NOW IS THE HOUR and THEY ALSO SERVE. Anyone who is interested in this remarkable man and his achievements might find those two books illuminating.

Letter from Denise Doyle

OPERATION KINGFISHER.
Just finished reading this on my Kindle, could hardly put it down. Will there be asequel to this, I think that perhaps there is a lot more to this story to be told.I am also a big fan of the Follies series and have read & reread them several times. Keep these stories coming please.

Letter from Jen Llywelen

I've only recently come across your books. I have read two of the ENSA ones, and the Leonora trilogy. 

I wrote my PhD on a Welshman and the First World War; obviously I needed to read a lot about the war as research. I'm now trying to write my first novel, about my grandparents and the way the 1914-18 war impacted on them all, their children, and their grandchildren. Lots of love, lots of conflict.

I'm impressed with the accuracy of your wars, but also with the back-stories, the way characters relate to horses, that sort of thing. There is a density of information, but it's great throughout. The ENSA stories conveyed very well the dangerous nature of their work, and their devotion to it. 

You also write so movingly of love, in its many forms. 

So thank you! I read several of these in Lanzarote, having a week away after my mother's funeral. I bought one of the ENSAs at the tiny shop on the complex, and then others on my Kindle. They helped me through a very difficult time. Leonora's just found Lexi - and Sasha! - and all's well at last. But I miss them! And dear Tom.

I wish you well with future novels, and I'll read some more of yours. You've inspired me. Thanks.

Letter from Alison Grady

Two things happened at Christmas that led me to your books:  My husband gave me a kindle, which I have barely put down since, and my Dad told me a story about my maternal Grandfather that made me want to write a book.

I have no writing experience so started reading historical novels just to see how the stories are told.  Your books just grabbed me straight away and I am enjoying the content and method equally.

In fact, your books have inspired me so much that I am simply writing to say thank you.

Letter from Jen Llywelyn

I've only recently come across your books. I have read two of the ENSA ones, and the Leonora trilogy. 

I wrote my PhD on a Welshman and the First World War; obviously I needed to read a lot about the war as research. I'm now trying to write my first novel, about my grandparents and the way the 1914-18 war impacted on them all, their children, and their grandchildren. Lots of love, lots of conflict.

I'm impressed with the accuracy of your wars, but also with the back-stories, the way characters relate to horses, that sort of thing. There is a density of information, but it's great throughout. The ENSA stories conveyed very well the dangerous nature of their work, and their devotion to it. 

You also write so movingly of love, in its many forms. 

So thank you! I read several of these in Lanzarote, having a week away after my mother's funeral. I bought one of the ENSAs at the tiny shop on the complex, and then others on my Kindle. They helped me through a very difficult time. Leonora's just found Lexi - and Sasha! - and all's well at last. But I miss them! And dear Tom.

I wish you well with future novels, and I'll read some more of yours. You've inspired me. Thanks.

Jen

Follow-up letter from Yvonne

I was lucky to find ‘A woman called Omega’ and ‘the  Fidelio affair’ in a second-hand book shop in Somerset and really loved them, again such well drawn characters and great stories. You are certainly amongst the elite for bringing all your characters to life;  they become as real people and one feels as if you know them and can visualise them as well.
I have now bought ‘Aphrodite’s Island’ which I shall keep to read when on holiday in a two weeks, so that will occupy me!

I heartily endorse your comment on regretting not being able to publish the first 5 chapters of ‘Now is the Hour’/ Kindly leave the stage.’ I found these on your web-page and having read them I think, in fact they made The Follies series even easier to understand because they give the backgrounds of the main people.
Much as I have loved all your books, I must admit to having a very ‘soft spot’ for Merry and Felix, very closely followed by Richard and Rose.
I think I am reading faster than you are able to write so I shall have to re-read them all aging whilst I wait for the next book!
Thank you for giving so much pleasure; I am really glad I found you.

Letter from Yvonne Carter

I have read (and re-read several times now) the four Follies books and I felt I had to contact you to say how very much I enjoyed them. I have learnt a lot about the history of  World War ll and you have made the four main people 'come to life' in a way I have not experienced from other writers. In fact, one feels you know Merry, Felix, Rose and Richard better than some of your own friends! Also, it  made me understand how the relationship between Merry and Felix can be such good love . Until I found 'Now is the Hour' I had not read any of your books but am now starting on the First World War books. One question, in the first two books Merry's cottage is in Seaford but in the third book it is at Shoreham, Where is it? I shall look forward to reading many more of your books, keep them coming! Yvonne.