Somewhere to review books I'm reading without giving away any spoilers!
Here’s a treat for you today – a spotlight post for Daughter Of The Sea by Sylvia Broady but that isn’t all, I’m also sharing an extract from it to see if that will whet your appetite for more!
‘Well-paced … genuinely gripping’ Historical Novels Review
Jessica is grieving for her beloved father, trawler owner Jacob Kingdom, when a heated confrontation ends with her being cast out from the family home and the revelation of a shameful secret. She falls upon the kindness of strangers and meets a charismatic trawlerman, who is proud to walk out with Kingdom’s daughter.
But with her cold-hearted brother at the helm of the family business, there is discontent rising, and being Kingdom’s daughter begins to lose its charm. With Jessica desperate to prove herself worthy to the tight-knit community, does she have what it takes to weather the storm to come, or will her secret hold her back?
This is set during the Second World War and Jessica is an ambulance driver…..
In the still night air of the third week in April, the siren wailed out loud. Jessica, startled, after not hearing it for some weeks, banged her head on the interior of the ambulance she was cleaning out. Jumping down onto the forecourt, instantly alert, her training kicking in, she had the engine running and jumped into the driving seat, ready to go where needed.
Doreen raced up, and slid into the passenger seat, saying, ‘Scarborough Street.’
‘That’s near Saint Andrew’s fish dock,’ said Jessica. A cold shudder ran through her body. ‘It’s a densely populated area.’
When they reached the destination, it was in total chaos. Fire engines were already in action and a police constable, with two special constables were engaged in rescuing people from bomb-damaged houses. Some families felt safer in the cupboard under the stairs rather than in the communal shelter, but not tonight, Jessica thought. She and Doreen were out of the ambulance to see a woman, with blood streaming down her face from a cut to her head, running towards them, crying,
‘My bairns. I need help.’
‘Help over here,’ called one constable and Doreen went in that direction.
Jessica put a supportive arm around the woman and said, ‘Show me where they are.’
They stopped at a house with its front windows, door and brickwork blown away, and slates falling off the damaged roof. Jessica heard the cries of children trapped in the understairs cupboard and wondered why there were alone.
The woman, Winnie, seemed to sense Jessica’s thoughts and said, ‘I went back for me handbag and it happened so quickly.’
Inside the house, loose timbers groaned and plaster dust filled the air. Jessica flashed her torch around and saw the cupboard. Part of the staircase had fallen and wedged across the partly opened door. She crouched down to the gap at floor level. ‘It might be possible to get the children out from here. How many are there?’
‘Six, our Jinny is eldest,’ Winnie said, wiping the blood from her face on her coat sleeve.
A thin voice piped up, ‘Just tell me what ter do, missus.’
‘The smallest first. Lay them flat on their tummy with their face toward s the hole.’ A child squealed.
‘Behave and do as you told,’ said Winnie sternly.
It took over an hour for the children to wriggle and slither through the hole to safety. Now they all sat on the kerb on the opposite side of the road covered in brick dust and with bruising and superficial cuts. A kind neighbour came and wrapped the shivering children in old coats. ‘I’d have made a cuppa, but I’ve no bloody gas and daren’t light a fire,’ she said.
Getting her breath back, Jessica said to Winnie, ‘Stay here and I will bring the ambulance and take you all to a first-aid post. They will look after you all for now.’
There were tears in Winnie’s eyes as she looked at what was left of her house and then she turned to Jessica. ‘Thank yer, missus, for getting me bairns out.’ Then she stared hard at Jessica and said in a whisper, ‘I know you. Aren’t you Kingdom’s lass?’
‘Yes, I’m Jacob Kingdom’s daughter.’ Her throat felt constricted as she replied, but she had no time to weep.
It was a terrible night. Jessica and Doreen worked tirelessly alongside firemen, police constables and other ambulance crews, some using a makeshift van or cars to ferry the injured to a hospital or first-aid posts. It wasn’t until a WVS lady handed Jessica a welcome cup of tea that she realised it was now mid-morning and well past their shift time. She sat on a pile of bricks, feeling dirty, hungry and tired. This wasn’t a job where you would cut off in the middle of a rescue and go home; this, Jessica thought, was how those in the armed forces operated. She read in the newspaper and had seen it on the Pathé News, when she had a rare break to see a film, of men and women carrying out their duties right through the day and night and beyond. As she glanced round at other workers, she felt a great sense of pride for them and herself. It was amazing how people rallied round to help each other in times of need.
‘You best get yerself home, missus,’ said a young male voice. He rescued the cup just about to fall from Jessica’s hand.
She shook herself awake and glanced up into the cheeky-looking face. ‘Billy!’ she exclaimed with astonishment. He looked smart and so grown-up in his navy-blue uniform with red piping around the collar of the jacket.
‘Missus Jess,’ he said in surprise. ‘I’m a telegram worker, that’s my bike.’ He pointed to the side of the WVS van, and then he squatted down next to her and said, ‘Do you want another cuppa? You look done in.’
‘No thanks, Billy.’ She held out an arm for him to pull her up and wobbled on her unsteady legs.
‘I could give you a croggy home, but I’ve got ter go back to base,’ he said, reluctantly.
She eyed his bike and the crossbar and felt sure she would have fallen off. But she was glad of his supporting arm as they walked her to the ambulance where a weary Doreen was waiting for her. She drove on autopilot back to the depot and the journey home on the bus was a blur. Alighting from the bus, she was glad her feet knew the way home.
Sylvia Broady was born in Hull and has lived in the area all her life, although she loves to travel the world. It wasn’t until she started to frequent her local library after World War II that her relationship with literature truly began, and her memories of the war influence her writing as does her home town.
She has had a varied career in childcare, the NHS and the EYC Library Services, but is now a full-time writer.
Social Media Links –
Website : https://sylviabroadyauthor.com/