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Archive for the tag “history”

Is history repeating itself?

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!

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Maisie admiring the view in the Brecon Beacons

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The moated entrance to Lower Brockhampton

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An Exmoor pony foal in Devon

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A day’s picking from our veg patch

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A puffin on Skomer Island

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Our shadows on a walk in the Black Mountains

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Magnificent Mount Snowdon

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A Blue Morpho at the National Botanic Garden of Wales

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View from Carningli (Mount of Angels) behind out house.

 

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The wonderful Roger Federer!

 

Helen Carey’s latest novel THE OTHER SIDE OF THE STREET is now out in Hardback and eBook format in the UK and USA. The paperback withh be published in November 2017.

VICTORY GIRLS will be published in April 2018.

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THE OTHER SIDE OF THE STREET

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Big news today! My new novel, THE OTHER SIDE OF THE STREET, comes out.

Published by Headline Books in the UK, Europe and Commonwealth, and by TSAP in the USA and some other territories, THE OTHER SIDE OF THE STREET is my fifth Lavender Road novel, and like its predecessors it can be read as a stand alone, or as part of the series.

THE OTHER SIDE OF THE STREET is mainly set in London in 1944, and as well as the inevitable problems of war, one of the themes this time is about someone (Louise Rutherford) trying to become a better person. That is never an easy thing to do, especially perhaps in wartime, and when Louise finds that she has to join the ATS, the Women’s section of the British Army, things become even more difficult for her.

I love writing about the Second World War. For me it is a fascinating period of history. So much happened in those eventful years, even for those who weren’t actually fighting. With almost constant Luftwaffe bombing, plus Hitler’s V1 and V2 revenge missiles, people on the Home Front were also in considerable danger. I have always been impressed by the extraordinary courage and resilience that people showed at that time, and I think, more than anything else, that is what has always drawn me to the period Putting characters in difficult circumstances is always interesting, and for the posh, pretty, somewhat self-centred young widow, Louise, the grim realities of as ATS training camp come as a nasty shock!

I very much hope you enjoy reading THE OTHER SIDE OF THE STREET, and as always, if you have the time or the inclination to pop a review of this or any other of my books on Amazon, that would be great. It all helps enormously!

To find out more about any of my books do visit the Books page above.

All best wishes, and Happy Reading,

Helen

To celebrate the launch of THE OTHER SIDE OF THE STREET in the USA, all the American eBook editions of Helen’s books have been given a new look covers.

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Beating the Bounds – living history rather than fictional history

I imagine that it is not every day of the week that a young boy is beaten by a mayor on top of a mountain! But before you start to reach for your telephone, please be re-assured,  no children are harmed in this ceremonial event (apart from a few sore feet perhaps).

No, this now purely symbolic assault on a young lad takes place during the annual August re-enactment of an ancient tradition – the perambulation, or ‘beating’ of the bounds of the Barony of Newport, our local town. 

In his book, ‘The Ancient Borough of Newport in Pembrokeshire’, local historian Dillwyn Miles explains:

‘The custom of perambulating the boundaries of a parish is said to date from the fifth century when the incidence of plague and tempest prompted the Bishop of Vienna to lead a procession chanting litanies and imploring divine protection on the three Rogation Days preceding Ascension Day. The custom continued with the parish priest being followed by the parishioners and children, all carrying white willow wands bedecked with the rogation flower, the milkwort and ribbons. The procession halted at boundary marks where small boys were beaten so they would always remember where the boundaries lay, and they were afterwards rewarded with cakes and sweetmeats.’  

These ceremonial perambulations ceased in 1888 and it was not until 1964 that the custom of beating the bounds was revived in Newport. The full circuit is about 26 miles but nowadays a slightly shorter route has been adopted. So each year a band of walkers and horse-riders congregate in the town square in order to follow the Barony flag for a (mere) 9 mile ‘perambulation’.

Heading off first along the beautiful, rugged coast path, the group then climb up through ancient lanes and fields to the wilds of Waun Fawr common. It is at the Bedd Morris boundary stone that some poor unsuspecting youth is ceremonially beaten by the Mayor and the perambulators are offered ‘cakes and sweetmeats’.

Thus refreshed, the party then heads on up over the remote heather, gorse and sheep covered hillside to patrol the boundary behind the dramatic crags of Carn Ingli (Mountain of Angels – the location of one of the key scenes from my novel SLICK DEALS), and finally back to Newport.

Everyone who completes the circuit is rewarded with a Certificate presented by the Court Leet (a body of ‘Burgesses’ and ‘Aldermen’ who traditionally serve the Newport Barony). Participants also take away an abiding memory of a walk (or ride) undertaken with a sense of purpose and of being part of living history.

Last year about 35 walkers, a dozen or so riders and a selection of dogs successfully ‘beat the bounds’ on a particularly lovely August day.  

If you are in the Newport, Pembs area do join us this year. We will meet in Market Square at 1 pm on Friday 17th August. Young boys are especially welcome!

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