Wednesday, 31 March 2021

Read an Extract from: Girl with Secrets by Carol Rivers

Girl with Secrets by Carol Rivers

A coming of age war story and family saga full of romance, mystery and danger in London’s East End. From the Sunday Times and ebook bestselling author of the Lizzie Flowers series and A Wartime Christmas comes a gripping NEW coming-of-age saga about love, loyalties and secrets.


'Surely one of the best saga writers of her time' – Rosie Clarke

1938, East London. Nine year old Daisy Purbright is a country girl at heart and together with beloved brother Bobby, they’ve enjoyed the endless freedoms of rural England.

But when her father gambles the family’s fortunes on a speculative investment in London’s docklands, Daisy and her family are swept up into the 
intrigue, danger and excitement.Desperately the Purbrights attempt to settle to a new life in the East End, but the whisperings of war grow louder.

Then, one late afternoon in September 1940, Adolf Hitler conducts a 
paralysing bombardment on London and war tightens its grip. Life changes dramatically and closely guarded secrets threaten the Purbrights’ happiness.

Can Daisy and her family survive one of the most fateful events of the 20th century?

Perfect for fans of Nadine Dorries, Pam Howes, Rosie Clarke and Dilly Court.

Nonsense,argued Mother, but blushing all the same.

Daisy’s father had winked behind the newspaper only to be interrupted by Matt who contributed a particularly dull comment of his own.

After Germany’s occupation of Czechoslovakia, Chamberlains chaps have unveiled plans for a National Register,’ Daisy’s brother spouted. Telling everyone what they should do when war starts.

Just rumours, Matt,Mother dismissed. Europe has had its fair share of conflict. Our leaders have more sense now than to rise to Hitler’s baiting.’

Not rumours, Mother,Matt objected heartily. Havent you heard, they are riveting the ships in the dockyards already? Why, some lads I know are joining up.

Well, you are not,Mother returned.

Pops was seventeen when he enlisted!’ Matt protested.

The matter is settled,Mother decided. ‘As soon as you leave school, youll follow your father into the family business.’

Daisy’s complaint however, was not with this supposed war” in Europe with which her brother was so enamoured, but something much closer to home. Why must it be Matt who was to follow Pops into business? Why not her or Bobby? Matt might be the oldest Purbright offspring but he hadnt the least bit interest in electrical engineering. Whereas Bobby actually knew who Isambard Kingdom Brunel was - the most famous engineer in the land. As for Matt, likely he wouldnt have a clue!

Daisy emerged from her thoughts and returned to the bright, crisp morning. Bobby’s proper bed was next door in Matts room, or it had been until the appearance of Amelia Collins. After which, Matt had begun to insist on privacy and Bobby transferred to the put-u-up in Daisy’s room, with a promise of the box room next week.

Not that Daisy minded sharing, for there were definite advantages. Tidiness, cleanliness and Godliness - Mothers mantra - had all gone to pot the minute Bobby had decamped, bringing all his clutter with him.

So Daisy had escaped housework, which suited her fine. And besides, she quite enjoyed their nightly discussions concerning the days observations. Bobby was one year up at school, but for a boy he was quite a card.

She was closer to Bobby in looks and nature than anyone else in the family. Bobby was her ally. She could always count on him for support. Whereas Matt teased her unmercifully, unaware how silly he himself sounded when he drooled over Amelia!

Quietly, Daisy left the figure of her slumbering brother and went to the window. Here, a shaft of light spilled in through the curtain just as it had in their old house in Wattcombe village, south of London. Until two years ago, the Purbrights had existed serenely, though in Daisys mind, rather boringly, amongst the fields and fauna of the countryside.

Sweet smells had meandered off the fields. Bats skittered against the lattice windows. Every floorboard creaked. Mice enjoyed a carefree existence in the barn. The thick walls of their home had kept out winters bite. But when Pops accepted a partnership with his brother in the docklands electrical engineering factory, everything had changed.

Yes, everything! Even now Daisy was disappointed to realise that she was forgetting the look of those fields and the delicate little mice and the fragile black wings that stroked the lattice at night.

She was forgetting - and somehow it felt wrong. For hadnt she lived such a happy - if undisturbed life - in Wattcombe? Where there had been no talk of war or of fighting or of terrible things that happened in other countries and might soon happen in Britain.

Drawing the curtains wide, Daisy undid the catch softly and sniffed the sweet air of the new day. Craning her neck, she could glimpse the city where there was not one thatched roof in sight. Instead, there were energetic hordes of people, unlike Wattcombe with its drab, mumbling farmers and stuffy village shopkeepers.

London was energetic and vibrant. Foreign visitors of every shape and size wandered the streets. Bowler hatted gents walked briskly to their offices. Ladies in furs hailed taxis. Theatres abounded, huge glass-fronted shops like Hamleys displayed their delights. Then of course there was the river, Daisys most breathtaking discovery. For here in the house in which they now lived, a home tucked neatly away from the busy thoroughfares of the East End, she could view the unbroken line of the snaking grey waters.

Should she peer westward, over the roof tops of Poplar Park Row, the river sparkled in the dawns light, bright as a diamond. A rowboats ride directly across the swirling pools, lay Greenwich Observatory. This view was breathtaking to Daisy. Sir Christopher Wren - like Isambard Brunel - was another of her heroes. His magnificent old Royal Naval College was a stones throw from the famous Queens House. She had learned at school that this historic building had been designed by Inigo Jones, a famous architect of the 1600s. But never would she have imagined when living in Wattcombe that one day she might view this spectacle from her window.

Dawn broke as Daisy made her way downstairs; above the front door a milky hue stole through the skylight. Here she paused; at this hour of the morning talk of the warwas thankfully absent. So too were the whispers of bombing and deadly weapons dropped from the sky to destroy London below. Daisy thought this event quite impossible and sided with Mother on the topic. Yet even as she and Bobby walked home from school, there were groups of raucous men rallied on street corners cursing this enemy called Hitler. Worse still were the awful, ugly gas masks and drills for emergency action should a warning siren sound. Some children at school had helped their parents to dig holes for the proposed air raid shelters that were arriving in the New Year.

Mother had once asked Pops if he would have to go away again to fight this war.

Ye gods,hed replied in a startled manner. No chance of that! Service in seventeen was my lifetimes contribution.

War is easier to make than peace, Nicky,Mother returned on a sigh. People still clamour for it. To our own son war appears heroic and dashing. But we know the truth of it, dont we?

Daisy, observing carefully, had watched Mother smile. Yet underneath the wing of her light brown hair swept back from her pensive face, the frown had deepened.

As it often seemed to these days.

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Mum and Dad were both East Enders who were born on the famous or should I say the then infamous Isle of Dogs. Their family were immigrants who travelled to the UK from Ireland and France, while others emigrated to America.

As a child I would listen to the adults spinning their colourful stories, as my cousins and I drank pop under the table.

I know the seeds of all my stories come from those far off times that feel like only yesterday. So I would like to say a big heartfelt thank you to all my family and ancestors wherever you are now ... UK, Ireland, France or America, as you've handed down to me the magic and love of story telling.

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