Sunday, 22 November 2015

Books in paperback!

Over the last few weeks I've been creating some of my books into paperbacks so they are available on Amazon for those people who don't have Kindles. I'm very pleased with the results. I wish I had done it ages ago, but they are done now and I hope readers feel they are worth it. 

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Post-War Issues suffered by Women

When World War II ended there was a feeling of anti-climax, as if the bright blue, sun-filled sky had clouded over, leaving a feeling of uncertainty about the future. A grey chill seemed to hang over everything. But then the country was in a mess, near bankrupt. There were bombed areas and rubble everywhere, homes lost or wrecked, many empty shops and huge bomb craters everywhere.

Women had become much more hardened and independent, having worked hard jobs usually occupied by men, spending endless sleepless nights in shelters fearing they could be killed. And suffering years of anguish worrying over the fate of their loved ones in the war.

When the fighting men returned, these problems were not always taken into account, the husband too beset by his own problems. Women lost their jobs, expected to concentrate on being a wife and mother again by creating a family and home. Housework did take much more time in those days, of course. Even so, many of them resented this change in their lives. They were also urged to no longer wear plain looking suits, trousers or overalls, but to be bright and pretty females again.

She might also have to cope with a shell-shocked or injured husband, outbursts of violence, depression or infidelity. A soldier having been trained to kill was not always the same civilised a person he’d once been. He could be far too accustomed to giving orders and inflicting punishment in order to achieve his aim, for him to show much patience for her. Or he might feel in desperate need for peace and quiet and hardly move or speak.

Many men suffered from sleepwalking, nightmares, or shouting in their sleep. Settling back into Civvy street was not easy, nor was finding a home and employment. He might be missing his pals, decide she’s grown old and become bored with her. Lives had changed and relationships were often badly affected, not least because couples had seen little of each other as leave generally were quite short, and many men had gone overseas. Even letters were often late and much of them blacked out. Whatever his reaction to the traumas he’d suffered, she would largely be the one left to cope. There was little in the way of counselling or assistance.

Cathie is remarkably patient with her fiancé, perhaps a little too kind and vulnerable. She does her best to help by listening to the advice given out over the radio and from the WVS. But then finds there is a price to pay.

Christmas is approaching and Cathie Morgan is awaiting the return of her beloved fiancé, Alexander Ramsay. But she has a secret that she’s anxious to share with him. One that could change everything between them. Her sister has died and she wants to adopt her son. 

When the truth is finally revealed, Alex immediately calls off the wedding, claiming that the baby is actually Cathie’s, causing all of Cathie’s fears to be realised. As Cathie battles to reassure Alex of her fidelity, she must also juggle the care of the baby and their home. 

But then Alex crosses the line with a deceit that is unforgivable, leaving Cathie to muster the courage to forge a life for her and her nephew alone. Will Cathie ever be able to trust another man again and as peace begins to settle will she ever be able to call a house a home… 

Published 17th November by Mira books.

Read an extract:

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Saturday, 7 November 2015

Victorian Dresses

There is a fantastic Facebook page called the The Corseted Beauty -
and it showcases the most beautiful fashion from different eras. I'm putting a few photos on this page of the Victorian era, which would be similar to what some of my characters would wear in my novels.

Evening dress, Scotland, ca. 1865

Evening dress, American, ca. 1865
Cincinnati Art Museum

Evening dress, ca. 1850s
Kerry Taylor Auctions

Evening dress, by Emile Pingat, ca. 1885
Philadelphia Museum of Art

Afternoon dress, American, ca. 1860. 

From the Mint Museum:
"In the 1860s, the fullness of the skirt moved to the rear of the dress with this volume of fabric supported by bustle pads, wire mesh frameworks or cage bustles. This afternoon ensemble includes a matching cool weather jacket lined in wool fleece, a short-waisted bodice, a bustled overskirt with a slight train, and an underskirt with a flat front and full back. The unique triangular-shaped large pocket on the overskirt is called a "parasol pocket" although it is a true pocket and was not intended to hold a lady's parasol. "

Ball gown, by Maison Soinard, Paris, ca. 1868-1869

From the McCord Museum:
"The date is substantiated by those of Caroline-Virginie de Saint-Ours-Kierzkowski's honeymoon in Europe and her documented Paris visits in 1868 and 1869, which determine when she bought the gown with the Paris label. 

Caroline-Virgine de Saint-Ours-Kierzkowski was fashion conscious. In a diary written during her European honeymoon in 1868-1869 she remarked on the dress of New York women, finding them, to her taste, over-dressed. In London, she commented on her enjoyment of window-shopping. And while visiting Paris, she wrote of La Messe des Élégants at the Église de la Madeleine : she wryly observed that at this late mess, people seemed to be moved more by the display of the toilettes than by the service. "

Ball gown, England, ca. 1850s
Christies' Auctions

Day dress, by Atelier A. Felix, Paris, ca. 1884
From the Galleria del Costume di Palazzo Pitti / Europeana Fashion

Evening dress, by the House of Paquin, ca. 1895
Museum of Decorative Arts, Berlin / Europeana Fashion

Ball gown, ca. 1865. 
Wien Museum