Daughters of War
By Lizzie Page
An emotional tale of wartime love and sacrifice, inspired by an incredible true story…
As a teenager in Chicago, May always dreamed of travelling the world. So when she meets handsome George Turner, she jumps at the chance to return to London as his wife. Ten years later, May is wondering if she’s made a terrible mistake.
It’s 1914 and war has been declared in Europe. All around, brave young men are being called up to serve. George, banned from conscription himself, has taken to the bottle, and May suspects he’s seeing other women too. She longs for a way to escape.
The chance comes when May meets veteran nurse Elsie, who persuades May to join the war effort. May knows nothing of nursing – it will be difficult, dangerous work, but her heart is telling her it’s the right thing to do.
But then George does the unthinkable and May’s future is put at risk. Will she have to make the impossible choice between duty to her family and her promise to the soldiers on the front line? And can she live with the consequences if her husband goes through with what he’s threatening to do?
A gripping wartime drama, perfect for fans of Soraya M. Lane, Daughters of the Night Sky and Kathryn Hughes.
Excerpt from Daughters of War.
That term, when the girls were away at school, I was scared I would lose my mind. I had always been prone to melancholy, but by spring of 1914, it was worse than ever. I dreamt of escaping. If I could have run away to do high kicks at the Moulin Rouge or even become a lady librarian, I would have, but both required an energy that had completely deserted me. I wanted only to lie in bed all day long. Was that so wrong? After all – as my mother frequently liked to write in her poisonous letters – I had made my bed and now I had to lie in it.
My life was so far from how I had imagined ‘London life’ that the slightest unexpected thing – a bee in the bathroom, a seam in my stocking – could reduce me to fat tears. As for bigger, expected things, my marriage for example, I felt trapped and utterly useless.
It was Mrs Crawford, the housekeeper, who called Doctor Grange, and it was Doctor Grange who said I must avoid reading the newspapers. It was true that the news did sometimes send me into a downward spiral: the sinking of the Titanic had. So many people had died, yet here I was: the unfairness of that was enormous. I wished I could have swapped places with any of them. At least then my existence might have had a purpose. It wasn’t just the people I mourned either. It was the ship itself. Unsinkable, they had said. And then it had sunk, just like that.
It just showed you.
And yet, I felt bad to be so distressed by it. ‘Were you affected personally?’ Doctor Grange asked kindly. When I explained, ‘Not personally, no, but…’ he gave me a severe look. ‘Stop reading. You have too many books,’ he advised looking around my room, ‘and you don’t take enough activity.’ He snapped his case shut.
George wasn’t interested in helping me. To be fair, I wasn’t interested in being helped by George. His attentions were firmly elsewhere. How did I know this? Not just because of the petticoat I discovered in the outhouse – who did it belong to? – or the sudden fascination he had for oiling his moustache (and the strange scents it gave off); it was his jaunty demeanour. George did not usually do jaunty. He was up to something and there was nothing I could do about that either.
I love escaping into fictional worlds especially historical fiction - I particularly love reading about the way women used to live in the early twentieth century. My first book ‘The War Nurses’ was inspired by the friendship and struggles of two incredible British women who went to live and work on The Western Front during The First World War. This book ‘Daughters of War’ has been inspired by an equally remarkable woman, American Mary Borden, who left her family in London to nurse soldiers in France and it’s about the trouble this caused. I love shining a light on women who do their own thing. I’m currently working on Book three. It’s early days yet, but I think(!) it will be based on the adventures of an amazing War Artist.
I grew up in a sea-side town in Essex, about forty miles from London. After studying politics at University, I worked as an English teacher in Paris and then in Tokyo for five years. It was a great experience but I grew homesick! I came back to England, did an MA in creative writing at Goldsmiths and have been writing ever since. Husband Steve, three lovely children and Lenny the cockapoo all conspire to stop me.