Thursday, 26 March 2020

New Release Spotlight with An Exclusive Extract: The Walls We Build by Jules Hayes

The Walls We Build by Jules Hayes

Three friends … 
Growing up together around Winston Churchill’s estate in Westerham, Kent, Frank, Florence and Hilda are inseparable. But as WW2 casts its menacing shadow, friendships between the three grow complex, and Frank – now employed as Churchill’s bricklayer – makes choices that will haunt him beyond the grave, impacting his grandson’s life too.
Two Secrets …
Shortly after Frank's death in 2002 Florence writes to Richard, Frank’s grandson, hinting at the darkness hidden within his family. On investigation, disturbing secrets come to light, including a pivotal encounter between Frank and Churchill during the war and the existence of a mysterious relative in a psychiatric hospital.
One Hidden Life … 
How much more does Florence dare reveal about Frank – and herself – and is Richard ready to hear?
Set against the stunning backdrop of Chartwell, Churchill’s country home, comes a tragic story of misguided honour, thwarted love and redemption, reverberating through three generations and nine decades.

For readers of Kate Morton, Rachel Hore, Katherine Webb, Lucinda Riley and Juliet West.

Passion, intrigue and family secrets drive this complex wartime relationship drama. A page turner. I loved it.” #1 bestselling author, Nicola May

Amazon UK           Amazon US           Waterstones 

It’s early September 1940 in London at the beginning of the Blitz, this extract is told from Florence’s viewpoint. She hasn’t seen Frank for several years and is meeting him in a London café. Frank has been in hospital since his rescue in the Dunkirk campaign.
Florence arrived at the café just off Oxford Street at midday. She ordered herself a cup of tea and a scone, and waited at a table by the window.
She saw Frank before he saw her. He crossed the street, looking utterly out of place amongst the city bustle and even from where she was sitting, she saw his look of concern directed at the sandbags; she also saw how he’d grown prematurely old. The grey at his temples striking, lines like furrows on his once smooth forehead, his six-foot frame hunched in the light military coat he wore, wrapped tightly around his body, as if crumpling up against the elements.
The sun was high in a crystal-clear London sky. It was touching eighty degrees in the shade.
Frank’s face glowed as he caught sight of Florence through the window. A heat of expectancy rose in her too. Nostalgia and a sense of homesickness for Westerham plunged through her, as did the memory of the fledgling love for a man who didn’t belong to her. But then, an image of Anna in an asylum dug into her mind. Perhaps Frank had changed as much inside as he had on the outside. Perhaps she didn’t know him anymore.
He swung open the café’s heavy wooden door allowing a burst of heat and noise into the small space. The bombs had abated for the last eighteen hours leaving the population of London not at all quiet, if anything enlivened. War had brought chaos and madness and grief to the capital city but also a consistent stoicism, leaving behind forever the capriciousness of the previous decade. In London Florence felt more encased within the humanity of her fellow human beings than she’d ever experienced within her own village. She met London in its darkest moments, became infatuated with the city as she imagined she could be with a mysterious, dangerous, or even forbidden, lover.
Flo, you look wonderful,’ Frank said, standing next to her chair in full army uniform. His face cracked into a hint of a smile. Good to see him. So good. She made to stand. He placed a hand on her shoulder. ‘No, don’t get up.’ He stared into her face. ‘You really do look great. War suits you, Flo.’
I wouldn’t say that. But getting away from Westerham does.
I thought you loved it at Chartwell?’
I did.’
This war’ll last longer than the Great War, you know. You’ll be away from home longer than you think.’
The unforgiving sun pouring through the window did him no favours and guilt passed through her at her own enjoyment of Europe’s conflict. Frank was part of the war proper.
Sit down, Frank.’ She pointed to the chair. So good to see him.
She asked the waitress to bring two more cups of tea and two more scones. Frank looked as if he needed fattening up. They said nothing, only looked at each other whilst they waited.
The waitress placed the scones on the table, scrutinising Frank and his uniform. He seemed oblivious. Florence watched him too, seeing what the waitress saw. A good-looking bloke returned from fighting.
This is on the house, for our soldier here,’ the waitress said, bending forward a little, getting closer to Frank, checking his ring finger. He’d never worn a wedding ring. ‘My brother’s been drafted. He’s in East Africa.’ Her face opened up just talking about her brother. ‘I didn’t even know where Africa was until I looked it up in a book. He’ll be all right though, won’t he? I mean you are, cos you’re here.’
Frank hadn’t looked at the waitress once, not directly. She was a very pretty girl and Florence guessed she’d have a lot of admirers. Frank didn’t appear to notice.
He answered but was looking at Florence. ‘What regiment’s he with?’
First Battalion Essex, Artillery.’
Finally he caught the waitress’s eye. ‘Your brother’ll be fine. Probably safer there than it is in London at the moment.
You think so?’
He smiled. ‘I really do.’
If you want more tea and the last few scones, let me know. On the house.’ The extra wiggle she displayed as she walked away wasn’t for Florence’s benefit.
Frank had long since stopped looking at the girl.
Despite the melancholic expression Frank carried there was no question about his attractiveness. But he was married, and married to Hilda, although Florence conceded it wasn’t as if she was reluctant to get involved with men before marriage; oh no, absolutely not. In her late twenties Florence was not a virgin and when she allowed herself to remember who she’d had that very first unsatisfactory fumble with, the heat of mild shame bit through her; shame only because the whole experience had been so cold. Her dalliance with William Barnes had been before Jem had walked down the aisle with him, so she didn’t feel any guilt about sleeping with a married man. It had though, been a mistake.
Frank had fallen quiet. Florence’s stomach tightened as she took in the leanness of his body, the thickness of his hair, the way his violet eyes slanted when he smiled. ‘I’m so relieved you got home alive,’ she said. ‘I would’ve been distraught… you know, if it’d turned out differently. It doesn’t bear thinking about.’ From the corner of her eye she spotted the waitress studying them.

Jules Hayes lives in Berkshire with her husband, daughter and a dog. She has a degree in modern history and holds a particular interest in events and characters from the early 20th century. As a former physiotherapist and trainer – old habits die hard – when not writing Jules likes to run. She also loves to watch films, read good novels and is a voracious consumer of non-fiction too, particularly biographies.

Jules is currently working on her second historical novel, another dual timeline story.

Jules also writes contemporary thriller and speculative fiction as JA Corrigan.

Twitter @JulesHayes6 -
Facebook Author Page: JulesHayesAuthor -
Instagram: JulesHayes6 -
Writing as JA Corrigan, Jules can be found at: Website:
Twitter: @juliannwriter -

Facebook Author Page: JA Corrigan -
Instagram: corriganjulieann

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