Today, as I know that many of my blog followers are interested in the events of World War Two, I am writing about Dunkirk, and to bring you news about a fabulous offer:
The DUNKIRK WEEK WWII EPIC BOOK SALE which starts today, 21 July, for one week only (21 – 27 July).
To celebrate the opening of Christopher Nolan’s movie Dunkirk this Friday, more than 50 authors of the Facebook Second World War Club have joined together to offer you their WWII novel at a reduced price, most at 99¢/99p.
The novels range from military war tales, home front drama and sagas, harrowing accounts of the Holocaust, gripping spy thrillers, moving wartime romances, and much, much more.
It is a great opportunity to stock up your Kindle with a fantastic range of wartime novels, and if you don’t already have my novel LAVENDER ROAD, this is your chance to pick it up at the bargain price of 99p (UK edition), 99¢ (USA edition)! So do share the news with your friends, the offer closes 27 July.
For me, Dunkirk a particularly fascinating wartime event. Instead of remembering the poor military planning, horrific defeat and catastrophic losses of both men and equipment as British and French troops rapidly became encircled by advancing Nazi battalions on mainland Europe, the word ‘Dunkirk’ (in British minds at least) generally conjures up the dramatic rescue of the survivors by a fleet of naval and small private vessels, and has entered the collective consciousness as an amazing example of British resilience, courage and resolve.
It was indeed an extraordinary and magnificent effort. On the first day of the evacuation, only 7,669 men were evacuated, but by the end of the week, a total of 338,226 soldiers had been rescued by a hastily assembled fleet of over 800 boats.
The drama of the Dunkirk rescue, and the heroic involvement of so many civilians who risked their lives to pilot their tiny craft over the English Channel has inevitably made it the subject of numerous films and books.
It gave me, in LAVENDER ROAD, the opportunity to have one of my minor male characters to show unexpected grit and resolve, not to mention courage. When the novel opens Alan Nelson had been turned down by the military for a trivial medical reason. As a result he had lost his confidence and the respect of his wife, and had become a figure of fun for one or two local boys who felt he should be doing something for the war effort, instead of tinkering about on little canal boat he kept on the river in London.
But when the call for boats comes, Alan Nelson rises to the occasion.
Here is the scene from LAVENDER ROAD when his wife, Pam, first finds out what he has done.
For the hundredth time, Pam glanced irritably at the clock.
Where on earth was Alan? She needed his help in dealing with Sheila over the road. The news from Dunkirk was appalling. German planes were machine-gunning the exposed men on the beaches. German artillery was pounding the small town and the adjacent sand dunes where the shattered forces waited for their chance of rescue. Mercifully the brave rearguard of the Allied troops was still valiantly holding off the German tanks. But that small fragment of good news didn’t help Sheila Whitehead. Sheila was convinced her Jo was trapped on a Dunkirk beach, dying or about to die. She wouldn’t or couldn’t stop crying. She wouldn’t or couldn’t listen to reason.
In desperation Pam had called the doctor. But when he had eventually come, he had been typically unhelpful, saying carelessly that everyone was living through difficult times. There was nothing he could do.
If only Alan had been there. Doctors always took more notice of men. And, give him his due, Alan had a good way with people like that. Quiet but firm.
Pam checked the clock again. Where was blasted Alan? She had promised to go over to Sheila’s again in a few minutes and she didn’t think she could face it alone.
When she heard the knock on the door she dimly assumed it must be Sheila and was astonished to find young Mick Carter standing awkwardly on the step.
He looked odd. Flushed and unusually scruffy even for him. He was breathing hard.
Pam wondered for a second if he was ill but then she realized he had been running.
‘What?’ she asked harshly as the hairs on her arm began to prickle. ‘What is it? What do you want?’
‘I-it’s your husband, Mrs Nelson,’ he stammered out. ‘It’s Mr Nelson.’
Pam’s mouth dried as she stared into the dirty, freckled face of Alan’s former tormentor. ‘What about him? What’s happened to him? What have you done to him?’
‘I haven’t done nothing,’ Mick said, momentarily aggrieved. ‘He’s done it. He’s gone, and he wouldn’t take me with him.’
Pam swallowed and tried to breathe normally. ‘What do you mean he’s gone? Gone where?’
Mick shuffled his feet. ‘Gone to France.’
‘To France?’ Pam repeated blankly. ‘To France?’
Mick nodded. ‘On his boat. To rescue them soldiers what are trapped. He heard it on the radio they needed help getting them off, smaller boats and that.’
For a second Pam stared at him in disbelief. She couldn’t take it in. Alan. Alan gone to France. To Dunkirk. In his little boat. The Merry Robin. He had never taken it further than Henley before. And that was years ago. One summer holiday for a week. Soon after they were married. It had been a kind of honeymoon. They’d made love every night in that little cabin.
Even as she quickly blocked that thought from her mind, it occurred to her that Mick Carter, of all people, was an unlikely recipient of Alan’s plans. ‘How do you know this?’ she snapped at him.
Mick shuffled his feet. ‘I was on the boat,’ he admitted.
Pam stared. ‘On Alan’s boat?’ She felt her mind spin. Trying to breathe slowly, she steadied herself on the door frame. ‘What were you doing on Alan’s boat?’
‘Mam threw me out the other night and I hadn’t got anywhere else to go. It was cold.’ He bit his lip. ‘I had to sleep somewhere, didn’t I?’ He shrugged bravely even as his chin wobbled. ‘Anyway I was still there this afternoon when Mr Nelson turned up.’
Pam was just trying to absorb the fact that Mick had been sleeping on Alan’s boat when to her utter astonishment, the boy burst into tears.
‘He wouldn’t take me,’ he sobbed. ‘I wanted to go, Mrs Nelson. I could of helped. But he said I was too young.’ He sniffed violently as the tears dripped unhindered off his nose and plopped on to the path. ‘He said there would be much more useful things I could do for the war than getting myself killed crossing the Channel. But I don’t know what they are, Mrs Nelson, them useful things. Nobody wants me to do anything.’
Pam was hardly listening. ‘Alan said that?’ she said tremulously, as tears threatened her own eyes.
Mick nodded and scrubbed at his eyes. ‘And now the boat’s gone, I’ve nowhere to go. I don’t know what to do, Mrs Nelson. I can’t go home because my mam won’t have me.’
Pam found she was shaking all over. ‘You’d better come in,’ she said. ‘You’d better come in. I think we both need a cup of tea.’
Those of you who have read LAVENDER ROAD will know whether Alan comes back safely or not. For those of you who haven’t, I won’t spoil the story!
There will be plenty of other stories in the film, and of course in the other fabulous books in the special DUNKIRK offer. So don’t miss the opportunity to treat yourself to a few Kindle bargains.
All best wishes, Helen
The special 99¢ one week only US Amazon.com kindle version of LAVENDER ROAD can be found here.
For UK, Europe and Commonwealth the 99p (or equivalent) deal can be found here.
And click here to see all the other books in the DUNKIRK EPIC BOOK SALE, 21 – 27 July …
As part of the DUNKIRK Promo there are also some great giveaway prizes, including the Grand Prize of a paperback copy of Joshua Levine’s Dunkirk: The History Behind the Motion Picture. No purchases are necessary to enter the draw.
We’re also bringing you:
1. A two-part blog series about Dunkirk. You can read these excellent blog posts by two of our authors, Suzy Henderson (The Beauty Shop) and Jeremy Strozer (Threads of War), here: https://lowfellwritersplace.blogspot.co.uk/
2. Readings by The Book Speaks podcast of excerpts from All My Love, Detrick by Roberta Kagan plus another novel, both of which are part of the Dunkirk Week Book Sale: https://thebookspeakspodcast.wordpress.com/
3. Our authors’ pick of the Top 40 WWII Movies: http://alexakang.com/40-recommended-wwii-films-english/
THE OTHER SIDE OF THE STREET, Helen’s latest novel in the LAVENDER ROAD series is now out in hardback and eBook versions (US edition / UK edition). The paperback edition will be published in October.