‘Life on the home front can be challenging, but with the support of one another, the factory girls can get through anything‘
– Wedding Bells On The Home Front
Wedding Bells On The Home Front is the third novel in The Factory Girls saga series by Annie Clarke and will be released July 23rd with Arrow Publishing. Described as ‘a heart-warming story of courage, community and love’, the series is inspired by Annie Clarke’s own mother’s wartime experience and centres on the lives and relationships of women from the pit villages working in munition factories.
I am delighted to be kick-starting the blog tour today with an extract, a sneak peak between the pages, so I do hope you enjoy!!
[ About the Book ]
March 1942: As the war continues, wedding bells are ringing for the factory girls . . .
Sarah is happily settling into married life with new husband Stan, whilst Fran is busy planning her upcoming wedding to sweetheart Davey, who’s still conscripted to Bletchley Park. With limited resources, the girls must make do to create the perfect day.
Meanwhile, Beth has other things on her mind. She hasn’t heard from her husband Bob since he returned to the navy, and she’s starting to fear the worst. And new friend Viola is still recovering from a nasty accident.
Life on the home front can be challenging, but with the support of one another, the factory girls can get through anything.
[ Extract ]
Sunday, 1 March 1942
Fran Hall sat on the back seat of the bus that carried her brother Stan, his bride, Sarah, and half the wedding party. With Bert at the wheel, they were travelling from St Oswald’s Church to the wedding tea in Massingham pit village. She could see Cyril’s bus carrying the other guests just in front of them.
Fran grinned because she knew that Bert would be right fed up that he’d been slow off the mark and Cyril’s passengers would be first at the food and drink. Oh aye, she thought to herself, they’d be clustering around the buffet table like gannets.
The buses were travelling slowly, as snow had come out of nowhere just as they’d left the church. It was beginning to lie on the road. She looked through the window, seeing the flakes tumbling, then speeding up into flurries, blocking the view of the fields where sheep would be huddled in the lee of the drystone walls. The snow was blocking out Auld Hilda’s slag heap, too. It didn’t matter, for she knew exactly where their village pit was, and the pithead, and Massingham itself, all of which were as permanent as – well, Davey.
Davey who was even now sliding his arm around her, kissing her cheek and saying, ‘By, I’m right pleased Stevie finished the photos quick, so we could get on board and not end up like snowmen.’
‘Aye, but look what it’s doing, bonny lad.’ Fran nodded towards the front of the bus, where the snow was settling on the windscreen, making the wipers labour and screech. In an instant the chatter was stilled, and everyone watched, and waited. Fran grinned along with the other passengers.
Davey squeezed her closer, and then breathed, ‘Wait . . . Wait . . .’
It took a few seconds, and then she heard the clearing of Bert’s throat. Any minute. Any min—
‘You keep yourselves going, you bliddy wipers,’ Bert shouted. ‘I’ve a bliddy beer waiting at the bliddy wedding tea, you bliddy hear me?’
She cheered, along with everyone else, for here, on this bus, was her world, strong and sturdy, and aye, permanent. These were her family, friends, neighbours, fellow munitions workers, and pitmen. She pressed into Davey, aching with the need for him to stay and not return to Bletchley Park and the code- breakers. Stay. Stay. For he belonged here, with his pitman scars, his blue eyes, his soft lips. Davey kissed her and she pressed harder against him, not caring that her cracked ribs were not completely healed, nor her fractured arm. Not completely, but enough, and she was home, working at the local munitions factory, not the Scottish one to which she and Sarah had been temporarily transferred, only to be injured in an explosion.
[ Bio ]
Annie Clarke’s roots are dug deep into the North East. She draws inspiration from her mother, who was born in a County Durham pit village during the First World War, and went on to became a military nurse during World War Two. Annie and her husband now live a stone’s throw from the pit village where her mother was born. She has written frequently about the North East in novels which she hopes reflect her love and respect for the region’s lost mining communities.
Annie has four adult children and four granddaughters, who fill her and her husband’s days with laughter, endlessly leading these two elders astray.