The Brave Daughters by Mary Wood was published by Pan Macmillan on 14 May 2020.
Today I have an extract from the book.
Sibbie and Marjie
As the car that had fetched her from the station travelled the long drive towards Feniscowles Manor, Sibbie felt the usual excitement grip her, on seeing the lovely house with its many windows gleaming and reflecting the sunlight. The ivy covering its walls seemed to shimmer a welcome in the August heat, and its backdrop of the beautiful hills of Bowland provided the perfect setting for this, her second home.
On arriving outside the house, her anticipation rose so much that she was out of the car and running up the steps before her Aunt Mags’s driver had time to alight and assist her. As she reached the door, it opened. ‘Sibbie! How lovely to see you, darling. Come on in. Marjella, Beth and Belinda are in the garden, taking advantage of this lovely day. They’re all excited to be seeing you again.’ ‘Hello, Aunt Mags, how are you? I’ve missed you. It seems ages since I left for the summer holidays. Oh, and Aunt Betsy and Mum said I’m to give you their love.’ Sibbie found herself enclosed in her aunt’s arms, having seen in her lovely, big brown eyes the same underlying concern that marred everyone’s lives right now – an overwhelming fear of what might happen in the near future.
This was disconcerting to Sibbie, as Aunt Mags, a close family friend – whom Sibbie loved dearly and had called ‘Aunt’ all her life – was a strong and capable businesswoman who headed the board of the largest mill in the area and rarely indicated that anything unnerved her.
Tall and slender, Mags was the epitome of the lady of the manor. She always wore her light-brown hair, now peppered with grey strands, in a bun at the nape of her neck, which added to her elegant appearance. Holding Sibbie at arm’s length, Aunt Mags kept her voice light. ‘Dear Betsy and Susan, I’ll ring them later to let them know you’ve arrived safely. Now, let me look at you. Being back in Portpatrick for the summer has done you good. You were looking peaky when you left. Those long hours in the classroom had taken their toll.’
‘I had a lovely time, being spoilt by everyone, but I’m ready to get back to studying.’ ‘That’s good. Well, everyone’s fine here, if a little worried about all that’s happening in the world. That aside, the girls are looking forward to their new term at school, and Marjella has arrived safely. She’s very excited to be joining you in your language studies this term.’ ‘I can’t wait to see her – it’s going to be wonderful having her here. I just wish this cloud wasn’t hanging over us all. Mum and Aunt Betsy are very nervous.’ ‘I can understand that, as we older ones have vivid mem – ories that heighten our fears.’
Aunt Mags sighed. ‘It’s unbelievable to think we’re on the brink of war breaking out again. But let’s not spoil your first day back with what a horrid little man in Germany is doing to the world. I’ve made lemonade for you all, and Cook has baked those shortbread biscuits you love.’ ‘Mmm, lovely.’ Although she said this, Sibbie groaned inside. She was full to the brim with shortbread and, much as she liked it, she wouldn’t care if she never saw another biscuit in her life.
It seemed everyone wanted to serve them to her: at home in Scotland, her mum and Aunt Betsy thought she would have missed their shortbread biscuits more than anything; and here in Blackburn with Aunt Mags, Cook seemed to think she couldn’t live without them! Sibbie smiled to herself at these thoughts, as they brought home to her how she was surrounded by the love of so many people.
About the book
They would fight for their country, at all costs . . .
When Sibbie and Marjie arrive at RAF Digby, they are about to take on roles of national importance. It’s a cause of great excitement for everyone around them. Perhaps they will become code-breakers, spies even? Soon the pair embark on a rigorous training regime, but nothing can prepare them for what they’re about to face . . .
Amid the vineyards of rural France, Flora and Ella can’t bear the thought of another war. But as the thunderclouds grow darker, hanging over Europe, a sense of deep foreboding sets in, not just for their safety but for the fate of their families . . . With danger looming, as the threat of war becomes real, Flora and Ella are forced to leave their idyllic home and flee. Can they make it to safety, or will the war have further horrors in store for them?