Day 2 of Rosie Clarke’s blog tour for her new book, ‘Lizzie’s Daughters’! As part of the tour, I have an extract from the book to share with you. Enjoy!
LONDON 1958. Lizzie Larch battles to keep her daughters safe and out of harm’s reach. Perfect for the fans of Nadine Dorries and Lyn Andrews.
Lizzie adores her beautiful and clever daughters and will do anything for them. Both possess a wonderful creative flair, but have fiercely different characters. Betty, the eldest is head strong like Lizzie’s first husband whilst Francie is talented and easily influenced.
When Betty runs away after an argument with Sebastian, heartbreak and worry descend on the family. At great risk to her health Lizzie finds herself pregnant but is determined to give Sebastian the son they craved. Sebastian meanwhile is plunged into a dangerous overseas mission using his old contacts to track Betty to Paris and to the lair of the rogue that seduced her?
Consumed with guilt can Sebastian right the wrongs of the past and finally unite his family and friends?
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Extract from ‘Lizzie’s Daughters’ by Rosie Clarke.
Sebastian looked at Marianne Gutiere and felt the pain of his failure strike him. He’d promised he would find Gretchen for his friend’s wife, but although he’d visited ten orphanages in West Germany, that they had thought might have some knowledge of the girl, he’d drawn a blank.
‘She wasn’t there?’ Marianne asked, tears glistening in her eyes. ‘It’s a hopeless task, isn’t it? She would be eighteen now and I’m not sure I would know her, because she was only six years old when I left. When I escaped from Eastern Germany after the war, Karl promised he would follow with her the next day… but they arrested him and she was taken somewhere to a children’s home; he was told she would be quite safe. Karl was able to send only one letter, but he was sure that she would be cared for… ’ her voice caught on a sob.
‘I’m so sorry,’ Sebastian said and touched her hand in sympathy. ‘You know that Karl and I were very close before the war. I wanted him to get out before it started but he had a good job at the University in Berlin and he didn’t believe that Hitler would kill the Jews, even though he was stripping them of money, property and dignity…’
‘Did anyone believe it?’ Marianne asked sadly. ‘We none of us expected what happened, but Karl was right; his work was necessary to our masters and they kept us as hostages to ensure he worked for them – and so we lived, but when the war was over Karl sent me away. I was carrying another child. I begged to take Gretchen with me, but he said if we all went it might arouse suspicions and we weren’t sure about the Russians then. We thought they might be our friends. Neither of us thought they would accuse him of war crimes and execute him…’
‘Karl was a decent man and a brilliant physicist. Whatever the Nazis made him do I know he wasn’t a criminal by choice, Marianne. Whatever he did was to keep you safe and I shall not condemn him – but you were innocent of any crime and so is Gretchen, and I promise I will find her, Marianne.’
‘But you’ve been searching for three years, ever since I first spoke to you – just before I got that letter to say that she was in an orphanage and alive…’
‘It was a such a pity that whoever sent it didn’t sign it,’ Sebastian said. ‘Had they done so we might have got more information – as it is, we just have to keep looking.’
‘I know there were so many displaced children after the war,’ Marianne said regretfully. ‘I wrote to everyone I could contact; some replied but no one knew where Gretchen had been taken. I should’ve come to you sooner, but I might never have had the courage had we not met by chance on that railway station in Western Germany and you recognised me…’
‘It was meant to be,’ he said. ‘I’m glad you asked for my help. I intend to do all I can for you, and not just for Karl’s sake.’
‘I’m not the only one you’ve helped, am I?’
‘It’s something I can’t talk about, even to you,’ he said and frowned. ‘We have a different kind of enemy these days. Lives depend on secrecy, and not even my wife knows what I do when I’m away… you should understand the political situation out there better than anyone.’
‘I do, of course, and I shan’t ask. I know you love your wife very much and sometimes I feel guilty for taking up so much of your time.’
‘Lizzie knows I love her.’ Sebastian stood up and glanced at his watch. ‘I must leave I’m afraid. I’m so sorry not to have better news, but I have many friends who have contacts both in Germany and in other countries where Gretchen might have gone and I shall go on looking until we discover something… one way or the other…’
‘You are so kind, but your family need you. I must not ask too much of you…’
‘Karl would have done the same in my place. I could not leave you alone in Germany, Marianne. It took a while to arrange passports and permissions, but I got you here to London and I’ll find you a better job than waitressing – and I’ll do my best to find Gretchen.’ He frowned. ‘You need some decent clothes – no, I know you can’t afford them, but I can. I’m going to take you to the shop of a friend of mine. She will give me a discount and I’ll make sure you have what you need to look the part when you apply for a job.’
‘You’ve done so much already. I can’t let you do this…’
‘I want to help – and I feel bad that I let you down again. Let me do this one small thing, please?’
‘Thank you,’ she said with quiet dignity and Sebastian left the flat he’d rented for her when she first came to England two years earlier. He’d hoped then that she would soon have her daughter with her, but his efforts had so far been in vain. He might have to talk to someone who could help, though he was reluctant to involve Jack and the department, because it would only draw him deeper into their arms when he knew it was time for him to think of his own life and his family…
As he walked from the building and hailed a passing taxi, Sebastian thought about what he’d learned from his inquiries in Western Germany – the things he hadn’t told Marianne. He believed that if Gretchen was still alive she was in East Berlin and it was notoriously difficult to trace children who’d been separated from their parents during the troubled time just after the end of the war; some were placed in orphanages in the Russian sector, others had simply disappeared. The child would be a young woman now. If she’d imbibed the anti-West doctrine that had undoubtedly been fed her these past years since the Cold War had started to escalate, she might not want to come to England to meet her mother and if she hadn’t… it would still be very difficult to get her out. The Russians had no intention of letting the East Germans escape to the West in large numbers– and there were unbelievable rumours about what they were planning to prevent it.
Rosie Clarke was born in Swindon, but moved to Ely in Cambridgeshire at the age of nine. Married at eighteen, she ran her own hairdressing business for many years. Rosie started writing in 1976, combining this with helping her husband run his antique shop. She loves to write for her own enjoyment and to give pleasure to her millions of fans. Rosie was the well-deserved winner of the 2004 RNA Romance Award and the Betty Neels Trophy.
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