When I finished writing and editing VICTORY GIRLS, the last of my wartime Lavender Road novels, I realised I could finally emerge from the 1940s. Writing the last three books of the series to my publishers’ tight, one-book-a-year schedule has kept me incredibly busy, and somewhat preoccupied, and it has been quite a delight to be able to re-engage with the real world!
But it is a world worryingly different to the one that I (figuratively) left four years ago. Over the summer we have had about 50 visitors to stay (that’s what happens when I stop writing books!) and I think almost every one of them has in one way or another commented on the general world-wide increase in intolerance, nationalism and xenophobia.
These words ring extra loud alarm bells for me because they are exactly the sentiments that were so prevalent in parts of Europe prior to the Second World War. I can hardly believe that, having spent so long researching the mood in Europe and the UK during the late 30s and early 40s, I now find the world moving, apparently blindly, in an unnervingly similar direction.
I am clearly not the only person concerned. Lots of readers have written to me, both from the UK and the USA, making the same point. Quite a few have remarked that watching the late night news was causing them anxiety and disrupting their sleep. Others have kindly said that my books have brought them hope that, even in very dark times, good sense and humanity can prevail.
Let’s hope that is the case! It is certainly important to remember that there are lots of good things about the world, so many lovely places, amazing wildlife, wonderful architecture, music, photography, art, theatre, films, fabulous books (never forget those!) and millions of good, kind, generous-spirited people. And although we do need to keep a wary and watchful eye out for extremist attitudes, it is not all doom and gloom. Sometimes, for our own peace of mind, we need to focus on that too.
So now, having probably depressed you at the beginning of this blog post, I am going to try and redress the balance by leaving you with some uplifting images from my wonderful post-writing summer!
VICTORY GIRLS will be published in April 2018.