Today I am excited to be kicking off the blog tour for Elaine Roberts’ new release; ‘The Foyles Bookshop Girls at War’ with an extract. Many thanks to Aria for having me involved, and congratulations to Elaine on the publication of her new book. Enjoy!
Swapping books for the bomb factory takes courage – and could be dangerous.
Working at the Foyles bookshop was Molly Cooper’s dream job. But with the country at war she’s determined to do her bit. So Molly gathers her courage, and sets off for the East End and her first day working at Silvertown munitions factory…
It’s hard manual labour, and Molly must face the trials and tribulations of being the ‘new girl’ at the munitions factory, as well as the relentless physical work.
The happy-ever-afters Molly read about in the pages of her beloved books have been lost to the war. And yet the munitions girls unite through their sense of duty and friendships that blossom in the most unlikely of settings…
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Molly glanced through the large window, into a small square room. The soft grey walls were bare, apart from the round, oak-framed clock, sitting fairly high up, telling her it was quarter to seven. She breathed a sigh of relief. There were three desks in there, each covered with paperwork. A blue book with a red spine was on one of the desks, next to a pad of lined paper. Glasses sat open, on top of the pad. Molly fleetingly wondered if they were his. A calendar sat on a shelf over one desk, with a family photograph standing proudly next to it. Underneath the shelf, stood three cream bottles, each of them a different size, but the largest was no more than six inches tall.
The man opened the office door, stood aside and indicated for her to walk in.
Molly nodded and stepped past him, making sure no contact was made. She had no desire to get off on the wrong foot. She shook her head. He had barely spoken to her and she didn’t know his name, so how could she do anything to upset him?
‘Is everything all right, Miss Cooper?’
The man’s deep voice broke into her wayward thoughts, startling her back to reality. ‘Yes, yes of course.’
He smiled and immediately his face looked younger. She momentarily wondered how old he was, thirty maybe. There was also the niggling question of why he hadn’t signed up to the Great War.
He pulled out a dark wooden chair from under one of the desks and indicated for her to sit down, before quickly pulling out another for himself. ‘It can be difficult for people when they first arrive, because it’s very noisy, with all the machinery and everything.’
Molly noticed the window for the first time. No sunshine was going to break through the thick dirt that coated it. She tilted her head slightly. Was that a crack that ran down the glass? She squinted as she stared at it. It was hard to tell, but maybe it was the dust locked onto the glass. Her mother immediately jumped into her thoughts and a smile formed on her lips. She would have had a bucket of water and a cloth on it within a blink of an eye. That is, once she got over the fact her daughter was sitting in this dingy office.
‘Right, Miss Cooper.’ The man shuffled some paperwork around the desk, before opening one of the drawers and slamming it shut again. ‘We just have some form-filling to do and then I’ll get someone to take you to the lockers, where you can change into the rather fetching uniform of overalls and cap.’
Molly’s blonde ponytail bobbed, flicking the back of her neck as she nodded. Her hand went up to smooth it down and she caught her fingers in the bright red ribbon tied around it. It had been gifted to her mother as a child, when she had nothing. She treasured it, claiming it brought her and her husband, Jack, together. Molly often borrowed it, under the threat of death if she lost it. She regretted her ponytail, wishing she’d taken the time to put it in a bun. It would have been more elegant, as well as making her look older than her twenty-three years. Molly realised she was worrying unnecessarily, as he didn’t look at her. She sighed. There was a time before the war when she would have enjoyed a little innocent flirting with a man of his calibre, but those days were long gone. They had disappeared with Tony.
The man suddenly looked up at her and gave a little cough. ‘When we’ve finished the paperwork, someone will show where to get changed. It’s what we call the dirty area of the factory. You’ll remove your clothing and let your hair down. There can’t be anything metal about your person, including any material covered buttons or jewellery.’ He held out some forms and a pen. ‘If you can just read and sign these, then we’ll get you settled.’
Molly reached out. Their fingers brushed against each other and she snatched her hand away.
He stared at her for a moment, before dropping the papers on the desk.
Molly picked up the pen and quickly signed the forms.
He coughed again and colour rose in his cheeks as he looked down again at his paperwork. ‘If you’re wearing a corset, I’m afraid that will also have to be removed. You will be allocated a locker to store your things, then you will cross over to the clean area, where you will put on your overall and mob cap. Your hair must be completely covered by the cap.’
Her hand immediately reached for the gold heart around her neck and she swished it back and forth. Colour rose in Molly’s cheeks. Her mind started racing at this unexpected information. Would she have to undress in front of people? Her face was burning at the thought.
About the author.
Elaine Roberts had a dream to write for a living. She completed her first novel in her twenties and received her first very nice rejection. Life then got in the way until circumstances made her re-evaluate her life, and she picked up her dream again in 2010. She joined a creative writing class, The Write Place, in 2012 and shortly afterwards had her first short story published. She was thrilled when many more followed and started to believe in herself.
As a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association and The Society of Women Writers & Journalists, Elaine attends many conferences, workshops, seminars and wonderful parties. Meeting other writers gives her encouragement, finding most face similar problems.
Elaine and her patient husband, Dave, have five children who have flown the nest. Home is in Dartford, Kent and is always busy with their children, grandchildren, grand dogs and cats visiting. Without her wonderful family and supportive friends, she knows the dream would never have been realised.