The Idea For The Book
A few years ago, I visited an exhibition (‘Banking for Victory’) at Upton House in Warwickshire, not far from where I live.
There’s more about the exhibition and some great photos here.
The house, gardens and extensive art collection were donated to the National Trust in 1948 (and are well worth a visit) but at the outbreak of World War Two, Upton belonged to the wealthy, glamorous and philanthropic couple, Lord and Lady Bearsted.
When war was declared, Lord Bearsted decided to move his merchant bank, M Samuel & Co. from London to his country house in Warwickshire for the duration of the war and lots of staff went too! (They were, if you like, ‘adult evacuees’).
Most of the workers came from London’s East End. What an experience it must have been, to move to the countryside, to live in a manor house, to ride bicycles, wear wellies and swim before breakfast in the outdoor pool. It must have felt a million miles from the Blitz. But there must have been a certain amount of guilt too and worry about those left behind.
For their 2015-6 exhibition, the staff and volunteers at Upton House did a marvellous job of turning back time, so that the house looked as it would have done during the war.
It was only after I’d visited the exhibition twice – and a year or two had elapsed – that the idea came to me, that the story of a bank moving to the countryside would make a great setting for a novel.
Of course, by then, the exhibition had finished but that didn’t really matter. I had my setting, now I just had to come up with characters and a plot.
I wrestled with the idea for quite a while.
A couple of summers ago I visited Upton House on my own and strolled around the gardens – where I took these photos – asking myself whether I thought it was going to be possible to come up with a story or whether I should forget the whole thing.
Obviously, in the end (and it did take me a long time!), I managed it.
So, to celebrate publication day, I have a little giveaway. In an ideal world, I’d give away signed copies of the book but obviously I can’t do that until the paperback’s out on March 17th, so instead, I’ve got this:
A ‘home front’ memorabilia pack which looks like fun: 20 pieces of artwork, including a clothing ration book, war emergency leaflet, ‘dig for victory’ information, trade cards and travel tickets and more. Interesting, perhaps if you write about WW2 (or want to) or might be nice to share with children or seniors. (Or scatter on tables if you’re having a WW2 ‘tea dance’ or similar event?)
One lucky person, drawn at random, will win all these goodies!
You don’t have to follow the blog, or buy the book (although obviously it would be nice if you did!).
All you have to do is leave a comment on this post no later than a week today, 21st January 2022 and you’ll be included. Sorry but UK only, because of postal costs. If you want to leave a comment but don’t want to be in the draw (or live in exotic climes so are excluded!) please feel free to comment but just add that you’re not entering the draw.
Right, I’m off to open the fizzy stuff now. Have a good weekend everyone!