Sarah Franklin is the author of Shelter, which was published in paperback by Bonnier Zaffre on 31 May 2018.
Bonnier have kindly allowed me to share this extract with you.
By the time she’d fetched Hetty from the hostel in Parkend and they’d walked up to the Memorial Hall, there was a queue winding right round it, coats flapping open in the promise of this late spring balm and making them look for all the world like the bats that swooped out at them from twilight perches. Music warbled from the hall as they inched their way past the pebbled edges of the building and before Connie knew she was doing it, she tapped her hand against her bag, the beat invading like a swarm of Messerschmitts. Connie’s feet were numb, the chilblain on her big toe itching like mad, but there was a dance in there, a bevy of blokes and girls finding their rhythm and losing their minds, just for a while, and she was going to be part of it. Connie had never had any truck with the idea of packing your troubles in your old kitbag, as the song went – your troubles were your troubles – but she’d been away from dance halls for too long, had forgotten how music could lift you up. She could almost smell it, for crying out loud, couldn’t wait to be a part of the glamour and the glee. Amos only put the wireless on for the news and the one time she’d suggested the Light Programme he’d glared at her as if she’d suggested dancing naked on the pavement. Not that there were any pavements in this bloody forest. Connie grabbed Hetty’s coat sleeve and stood on one leg to scratch one foot against another, but it was useless through her gumboots and she splashed dirty puddle water everywhere. Just as well she hadn’t bothered with those seams. ‘Watch what you’re doing!’ hissed one of the other hostel girls. Connie stamped from foot to foot, banging the feeling back into them. ‘What are they doing up there? Can’t take this long to let us in, can it?’ The girl in front turned around, the mud-splattering apparently forgiven. ‘There’s a crowd of new GIs up ahead of us; don’t have small enough notes yet so it’s taking forever to give them the change they need.’ Hetty perked up, shoe woes forgotten. ‘GIs? It’ll be worth the wait, then!’ She prodded Connie, who fought the urge to jab her friend hard in the ribs under pretence of jollity. Had none of them ever met a Yank before? Obviously not. Connie’s thoughts slid to Don and her heart slipped into her guts. No sense in pinning your hopes on a GI. It was proper crowded inside the hall, every space jam-packed with music, with sweat, with jostled mugs of beer and with the oversweet, over-perfumed girls bunched in corners waiting to be plucked to dance. God, but she’d missed this! The weight came off her, dissolved into the music.
About the book
Led here by necessity, she knows she cannot stay. Brought against his will, he never wants to leave.
Early spring 1944. Connie Granger has escaped her bombed-out city home, finding refuge in the Women’s Timber Corps. For her, this remote community must now serve a secret purpose.
Seppe, an Italian prisoner of war, is haunted by his memories. In the forest camp, he finds a strange kind of freedom.
Their meeting signals new beginnings. But as they are drawn together, the world outside their forest haven is being torn apart. Old certainties are crumbling, and both must now make a life-defining choice.
What price will they pay for freedom? What will they fight to protect?
A captivating and tender novel about love, hope and how we find solace in the most troubled times.
About the author
Sarah Franklin grew up in rural Gloucestershire. She lectures in publishing at Oxford Brookes, is the founder and host of Short Stories Aloud and a judge for the Costa Short Story Award. She has written for The Guardian, Psychologies, The Pool, Sunday Express. In 2014, Sarah was awarded a Jerwood/Arvon Mentorship on the strength of her opening pages of SHELTER, and worked on the novel for a year with Jenn Ashworth, amongst others.