Recently, I was given that which every avid reader covets – the gift of discovering a new author. Annie Groves, who also writes as Penny Jordan. Her writing style is reminiscent of Catherine Cookson and Groves also writes family sagas, most of them being set around World War II London, rather than 19th century Tyne and Wear. Her latest series begins with London Belles, a tale of four very different young women thrown together by war. Finding freedom and independence – as well as love, passion and heartbreak – for the very first time, a unique bond is formed as the hostilities take their toll on Britain.
United by chance, bound together in times of need When tragedy strikes, Olive is forced to seek lodgers. Three girls come knocking at her door, each in need of a roof over their heads. Sally has left Liverpool to work as a nurse in London and when she arrives she is a shell of her former self. Where once stood a vivacious, sociable girl, now stands one plagued by homesickness and a betrayal that is devastatingly fresh in her mind. Dulcie is living the high life in the West End, a world away from her home in Stepney. Working at Selfridges gives her access to the most fashionable clothes and makeup, but at home she is the black sheep of the family; always second to her sister. So she decides it’s time to make a bid for freedom. Agnes grew up in an orphanage, having been left on the steps as a new-born baby. But with war looming, and the orphanage relocating to the country, she must now seek out a job and lodgings. But with change comes exciting new opportunities, worlds away from the life she’s known… As the women prepare for war, all of their futures hang in the balance. Soon their lives will change irrevocably and the home that binds the London Belles is no longer the sanctuary they once sought.
Imagine my delight when, upon finishing London Belles, I rushed to the Barnes and Noble site only to find that there’s already a sequel, Home for Christmas, which picks up the tale exactly where it left off.
There’s nothing new or shocking in Groves’s storytelling, but that’s a good thing. She uses a gentle voice to relay the wants, desires and motivations of four 1940’s girls, each of whom has their own distinct personality. Like Cookson, Groves charms the reader with good, old fashioned storytelling that left me wanting more. Best of all, Groves has a couple of previous WWII series in her backlist, so I’ll have a title of hers in my TBR pile for a while to come. You can visit Annie Groves’ website here