Tag: Judith Barrow

The Swinging Sixties: Ten Books Set in a Decade of Changing Times

I’ve been wanting to do a showcase on books set in the 1960s by other authors after writing my own novel, Out of Night. I asked an online community of authors and readers for their recommendations, and boy did they deliver! Here are ten books set in the changing times of the decade that we’ll always remember.

Story of a Country Boy by Val Portelli

A gritty saga set in 1960s London, it’s a perfect read for those that want to devour a story in one sitting.

Ridley Road by Jo Bloom

For fans of Maggie O’Farrell and Sadie Jones, amid the rise of fascism in sixties London, one woman searches for her lost love . . .
Summer, 1962. Twenty-year-old Vivien Epstein, a Jewish hairdresser from Manchester, arrives in London following the death of her father. Alone in the world, she is looking for Jack Fox, a man she had a brief but intense love affair with some months before. But the only address she has for him leads to a dead end.

Determined to make a new life for herself, Vivien convinces Barb, the owner of Oscar’s hair salon in Soho, to give her a job. There, she is swept into the colourful world of the sixties – the music and the fashions, the coffee bars and clubs.

But still, Vivien cannot forget Jack. As she continues to look for him, her search leads her into the fight against resurgent fascism in East London, where members of the Jewish community are taking to the streets, in and around Ridley Road. Then one day Vivien finally spots Jack, but her joy is short-lived when she discovers his secret.

For UK readers, this book is being adapted by BBC1 as a television series, and filming started in September 2020.No air date time announced as of yet.

Not the Life Imagined by Anne Pettigrew

A darkly humorous, thought-provoking story of Scottish medical students in the sixties, a time of changing social and sexual mores. None of the teenagers starting at Glasgow University in 1967 live the life they imagine. Beth Slater is shocked at how few female medical students there are and that some people, such as Conor Towmey, think they shouldn’t be there at all. Devastated by a close friend’s suicide, Beth uncovers a revealing diary and vows to find the person responsible for her death. Struggling with the pressure of exams while supporting friends though disasters, Beth charts the students’ changing, often stormy, relationships over two decades in a contemporary backdrop of Free Love, the Ibrox Football Disaster, the emergence of HIV and DNA forensics. In time, indiscretions surface with dire consequences for some. In Not the Life Imagined, retired medic Anne Pettigrew has written a tale of ambition and prejudice laced with sharp observations, irony and powerful perceptions that provide a humorous and compelling insight into the complex dynamics of the NHS fifty years ago.

The Girls from Greenway: A nostalgia saga perfect for fans of Daisy Styles and Rosie Clark by Elizabeth Woodcraft

A dramatic and nostalgic saga of two sisters coming of age in 1960s Essex.

Angie Smith lives in Greenway, Chelmsford, with her elder sister Doreen, their struggling mother and their drunk, violent father. Bored of her job, and of her dull, ordinary boyfriend, Angie dreams of bigger and better things.

But then she meets boutique owner Gene Battini. He is older, handsome, charming – and married. She is completely swept off her feet. But little does she know that Doreen is falling for Gene, too, and that their affair will have disastrous consequences.

As things at home go from bad to worse, Angie and Doreen must struggle to fight for what they want.

Can the girls from Greenway ever achieve their dreams?

‘[A] beautifully written saga which brims with the spirit of youth and is rich in period detail.’ Lancashire Evening Post

Kanyakumari by Hazel Manuel

Written during three separate trips to India and is set in that country. It is an unusual and powerful tale of friendship, danger and loss as three women find themselves alone in India, each facing some of her deepest fears and challenges.

When close friends and seasoned travellers, Rachel and Gina, take a trip to India, Rachel expects the usual round of sight-seeing and collecting experiences, but she is not prepared for the secret that Gina is harbouring. Interwoven with this unfolding drama is the story of Sandrine, who writes letters home to her brother as she travels around India in the late 60s.

In a tense narrative that moves between two periods, we take a journey that is both sumptuous and dark. Has Rachel placed herself in danger? What is at the root of Gina s anxiety? And what is Sandrine s place in this story of three women making interior journeys as they travel?

Mrs. Murray’s Ghost by Emily-Jane Hills Orford

It’s 1967 and Mary’s family has moved into a huge Victorian mansion. She loves her gigantic new house, especially her room. But then she begins to meet the house’s other residents. Mrs. Murray was murdered in Mary’s new house. At first she tries to scare the new residents away, but there seems to be a force connecting the ghost to Mary. Even the stranded Brownies, the little people who live between the walls, feel that connection. When Mary becomes deathly ill, the Brownies and the ghost team up to try to rescue her, only to encounter a witch and her evil dragons and minions. Time is running out. They must rescue Mary from a fever-induced dream world before she is trapped there forever.

Storm Clouds Gathering by Pauline Barclay

Storm clouds are gathering, silently and slowly, too far away to worry about. Or so it seems. But ignoring what is brewing will have dire consequences for the people caught up in the maelstrom.

Shirley Burton is too busy cheating on her husband, having a laugh and looking for fun to alleviate the boredom of her childless marriage. Kathleen Mitchell is too wrapped up in running around after her beautiful family to worry about her health. Anne Simpson has two things on her mind: her forthcoming marriage to Paul Betham, who seems to want to control her, and her career, which she does not want to give up.

Can Shirley really expect to deceive her husband and get away with it? Can Kathleen hold it all together, and is Anne able to have the best of everything?

Storm Clouds Gathering is a story of human emotion, passion and heart-rending grief. Set against the backdrop of the mid-sixties, these three families will be tested to the limit as betrayal, loss and love threaten to change their lives forever.

Living in the Shadows by Judith Barrow

Sequel to the acclaimed Changing Patterns and Pattern of Shadows. It’s 1969 and Mary Schormann is living quietly in Wales with her ex-POW husband, Peter, and her teenage twins, Richard and Victoria. Her niece, Linda Booth, is a nurse – following in Mary’s footsteps – and works in the maternity ward of her local hospital in Lancashire. At the end of a long night shift, a bullying new father visits the maternity ward and brings back Linda’s darkest nightmares, her terror of being locked in. Who is this man, and why does he scare her so? There are secrets dating back to the war that still haunt the family, and finding out what lies at their root might be the only way Linda can escape their murderous consequences.

Her Mother’s Secret by Jane Baynham

A wonderful sixties saga from a promising new talent. Highly recommended.

It’s 1969 and free-spirited artist Elin Morgan has left Wales for a sun-drenched Greek island. As she makes new friends and enjoys the laidback lifestyle, she writes all about it in her diary. But Elin’s carefree summer of love doesn’t last long, and her island experience ultimately leaves her with a shocking secret …
Twenty-two years later, Elin’s daughter Alexandra has inherited the diary and is reeling from its revelations. The discovery compels Alexandra to make her own journey to the same island, following in her mother’s footsteps. Once there, she sets about uncovering what really happened to Elin in that summer of ’69.

To Brighton and Back and A Little Drop of Moonshine by Deirdre Palmer

One weekend in Brighton. And nothing will ever be the same again.

Four young Londoners – Carol-Anne, Jeanette, Terry, and Mark – head to Brighton for a weekend of seaside fun. Dancing, drinking, and a whole lot of lovin’ are high on the agenda, not necessarily in that order. It’s the Swinging Sixties, a time of freedom, so why not?

But behind the bravado lurk more insecurities than there are pebbles on Brighton beach. Each of the weekenders has a secret. Nobody is quite what they seem, especially Jeanette, whose problems run deeper than anyone could begin to imagine. When she disappears on a night out, tensions rise as her friends struggle to work out what to do.

They agree on two points: no parents, no police. Where they come from, people sort out their own problems. But can Carol-Anne, Terry and Mark really handle the situation without help, or is this too big, even for them?

A hot summer’s night when anything seems possible, no dream out of reach. Then everything changes.

As Apollo 11 hurtles into space and Neil Armstrong sets foot on the moon, young Londoners Carol-Anne, Terry, and Mark join the celebrations at an all-night party in a holiday camp in Devon. But as the cheers go up for the astronauts, one of their group is missing: Carol-Anne’s teenage sister, Beverly.

When Beverly is discovered in tears back at their caravan, she has a story to tell that knocks the moonwalk into second place. But is she telling the truth?

The special night falls into chaos as loyalties are tested to the limit, with accusations hurled about like beach balls.

With Beverly becoming more of a liability by the minute, the best plan is to return to London. But once they’re back home, each of the group is forced to confront the troubles they thought they’d left behind.

A Little Drop of Moonshine is the sequel to To Brighton and Back but can equally well be enjoyed on its own.

Book Review: The Memory by Judith Barrow

Today on my blog, I have a stellar book review of Judith Barrow’s latest novel, The Memory, out today from Honno Press. Many thanks to Honno for an advanced review copy.

Review:

Hauntingly poignant, The Memory by Judith Barrow had me hooked from the beginning. Relationships between mothers and daughters aren’t always the picture-perfect images we see on social media. In fact, sometimes they are anything but. The relationship between main character Irene and her mother evolves around the birth of baby sister Rose, who was born with Down’s Syndrome during a time when children with handicaps or special needs were treated with shame by society.

Barrow’s beautifully written narrative perfectly captured the tensions that sometimes we inherit from one generation to the next beween mothers and daughters, and our ability to hold on to something we love at any cost.

I loved Irene as a character because although at times heartwrenching, she never gave up on the people that needed her. Her bond with her little sister, Rose, her gran Nanna, her father Derek, and the love of her life, Sam, painted an honest portrait over time of the joys and utter despairs of being a carer for nearly everyone else. I so wanted for her to finally have some peace in the end.

A must read for any mother and daughter as we navitage this challenging thing called sisterhood. Highly recommended. Five stars.

Northern Reads featuring Judith Barrow

It’s Friday, and that means another edition of Northern Reads! I’m chuffed to have fellow historical fiction and saga author Judith Barrow on the blog today with her fantastic Haworth family trilogy, featuring one book set in Lancashire.

Welcome, Judith! Tell us more about the Haworth Family Trilogy. 

The three books are historical family sagas, often described as gritty. Although they are a trilogy set around the same family, each book also stands alone. The first of the trilogy is Pattern of Shadows, set in Lancashire between 1944 and 1945. The story was inspired by Glen Mill, a disused cotton mill in Lancashire, which was the first German POW camp. Glen Mill brought back a personal memory of my childhood. My mother was a winder in a similar mill. I would often go to wait for her to finish work on my way home from school. I remember: the muffled boom of noise as I walked across the yard and the sudden clatter of so many different machines as I stepped through a small door cut into a great wooden gate;  the women singing and shouting above the noise, of them whistling for more bobbins; the colours of the cotton and cloth. Above all I remember the smell: of oil, grease – and in the storage area – the lovely smell of the new material stored in bales. And the sound of the siren, announcing the end of the shift.

When I thought of Glen Mill I wondered what kind of signal would have been used to separate parts of the day for all those men imprisoned there. I realised how different their days must have been from my memories of a mill. There would be no machinery, only vehicles coming and going; the only voices would be those of men, with a language and dialect so different. I imagined the subdued anger and resignation. There would be no riot of colour, just an overall drabness. And the tang of oil, grease, cotton fibres would be replaced by the reek of ‘living’ smells.

And I knew I wanted to write about that. But I also wanted there to be hope somewhere. I wanted to imagine that something good could have come out of the situation the men were in.

I changed the name of the prisoner of war camp to Granville, set in the fictional town of Ashford. The protagonist is Mary Howarth, a nurse in a hospital attached to the camp who holds her dysfunctional family together.

And tell us more about the series. Where does it go from there?

Pattern of Shadows: Mary is a nurse at a Lancashire prison camp for the housing and treatment of German POWs.  Life at work is difficult but fulfilling, life at home a constant round of arguments, until Frank Shuttleworth, a guard at the camp turns up. Mary agrees to walk out with him but he becomes a jealous and dangerous boyfriend when one of the POWs, Peter Schormann a doctor, is  allocated to treat the injured and ill prisoners in the hospital, and he and Mary become friends.

Changing Patterns is the sequel to Pattern of Shadows and begins in May 1950 when Britain is struggling with the hardships of rationing and the aftermath of the Second World War. In times of war the relationship between Mary Howarth and Peter Schormann was called fraternization. And fraternization was a dangerous and serious offence. After the war, it is looked on by many as equally unacceptable, especially by Mary’s troubled and fractious family. The war is over, but for Mary Howarth the danger isn’t; she is living in Wales with Peter, a German ex-POW and is a Matron of a small hospital. She believes her job will be jeopardised if they find out about Peter. Her best friend Jean is doing all she can to get Mary to leave Peter and return to Lancashire. Mary is sure this will never happen, but she has no idea of the secret Peter is keeping from her. And then one day, something happens that changes everything….

Blurb for Changing Patterns:

Peter Schormann, an ex-German POW, has left his home country to be with Mary Howarth. Reunited they plan to marry. But there are obstacles in their way: the controversy of Mary and Peter’s relationship, the condemnation of her family and the memory of Frank Shuttleworth, ex-boyfriend of Mary’s. Even worse, Peter holds a dangerous secret that could destroy them. When tragedy strikes, Mary hopes it will unite her family, but it is only when a child disappears that they pull together to save one of their own from a common enemy

Living in the Shadows is the last of the trilogy, and is set in 1969, a time of Mods and Rockers, the Beatles, flower power and free love. Although Mary is still the protagonist, this is the story of the next generation of the Howarth and Schormann families, forced to deal with the consequences of the past actions of their parents. Granville, the prisoner of war camp, is the backdrop of all three books even as it gradually falls into disrepair. In this last book it becomes the centre of an inevitable tragedy

Blurb for Living in the Shadows:

Mary Schormann is living quietly in Wales with her husband, Peter, and her teenage twins, Richard and Victoria. Her niece, Linda Booth, is a nurse – following in Mary’s footsteps – and works in the maternity ward of her local hospital in Lancashire. At the end of a long night shift, a bullying new father visits the maternity ward and brings back Linda’s darkest nightmares, her terror of being locked in. Who is this man, and why does he scare her so? There are secrets dating back to the war that still haunt the family, and finding out what lies at their root might be the only way Linda can escape their murderous consequences.

That’s right up my alley! Where can we get them them?

Purchase Judith’s books here:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Judith-Barrow/e/B0043RZJV6

https://www.honno.co.uk/authors/b/judith-barrow/

photo - book signing (1)

About me:

Judith Barrow, originally from Oldham has lived in Pembrokeshire, Wales, for forty years but returns often to Lancashire. She has an MA in Creative Writing with the University of Wales Trinity St David’s College, Carmarthen. BA (Hons) in Literature with the Open University, a Diploma in Drama from Swansea University.

She is a Creative Writing tutor for Pembrokeshire County Council and holds private one to one workshops on all genres.

Her last book, A Hundred Tiny Threads, is the prequel to the trilogy and is the story of Mary Howarth’s mother, Winifred, and father, Bill. Set between 1910 & 1924 it is a the time of the Suffragettes, WW1, the influenza epidemic and the infamous Black and Tans, sent to Ireland to quell the rebellion and fight for freedom from the UK. It is inevitable that what forms the lives, personalities and characters of Winifred and Bill eventually affects the lives of their children, Tom, Mary, Patrick and Ellen. And so the Pattern trilogy begins.

Judith’s books are published by Honno, a small independent women’s press. Her next book is due to be published in March 2020 and is entitled The Memory.

I have A Hundred Tiny Threads! It’s a fabulous book! Where can we find you on social media and the web?

Social media for Judith:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/judith.barrow.3

Twitter: https://twitter.com/judithbarrow77

 Website: https://www.judithbarrow-author.co.uk/

Reviewing Website : https://judithbarrow.blogspot.com/

Thanks so much for stopping by, Judith!

Come back next week as we travel to Manchester with our next author! Thanks so much for reading!