A Time to Remember

1945 - the war in Europe is over. Most women can't wait for their men to return, but in the small town of Rivenshaw in Lancashire, Judith Crossley fears having her husband back in the house. He'd grown into a bully and a drunkard, and on the occasions he'd come home from leave, he'd hit her.

He wasn't a good father either - when their eldest daughter Kitty won a prestigious scholarship to the private girls' grammar school, Doug had tried to stop her going, saying it would turn her into a snob. Luckily Judith had help from an unlikely ally - Maynard Esher, from an old aristocratic family on the other side of town - but Judith knows that when her husband returns, she'll be blamed for letting Kitty take up her school place. She decides that for the children's sake, she must leave her husband. But with the house rented in his name, and other accommodation scarce, where on earth can they go?

Alice Bretherton is returning from being a Land Girl in Wiltshire. Her great-aunt has left her a house bordering the park in Rivenshaw, but it was partly bombed and is in a poor condition. Still, she decides to camp out in it, if it's at all habitable, because she has nowhere else to go. However, when she arrives, she finds a displaced Polish man is already living there . . .


I was delighted to write a new series set just after World War 2. My editor was sure it was a miserable time of hardship and austerity, and I convinced her it wasn’t. I remember bits and pieces about the war years and just after. People didn’t seem miserable to me; they were too happy to have the war over. But to check my facts, I not only read people’s memoirs, I asked my aunt, who was in the Wrens during the latter part of the war. She too felt people weren’t miserable, not in the north of England, anyway.

I remember that era with a young child’s eyes, not coherently. Walking home in the blackout, eating my first banana, with a circle of adults watching me. They had one banana, had given it to me. So I found it fascinating to research the historical details and background with an adult’s eye.

My mother and I lived with her parents in Rochdale for most of the war years, so my beloved granddad was like a father to me. He taught me to read and let me pinch pea pods from his allotment.

I met my father for the first time in 1945, when he returned home from the Middle East, where he had been serving for 4 years. My parents and I then moved from one temporary house to another for a few years, and I remember them all clearly. Maybe that’s what has given me a lifelong interest in the history of houses and house design – and why rebuilding is a theme in this book.

Buying the Book

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