I am delighted to share an extract for War in the Valleys by Francesca Capaldi on blog tour today. I hope you all enjoy it.
WW1 marches on, but Violet faces her own battle at home
July 1916. Young mother, Violet Jones, lives a tough life in the Rhymney Valley, caring for 4-year-old Clarice and baby Benjy on her own while soldier husband Charlie fights on the Front Line. But when tragedy strikes, Violet’s life becomes even harder.
While they may be far from the battlefields, the effects of WW1 take their toll on the small mining community of Dorcalon, with food becoming scarce and more and more of their young men losing their lives.
With very little money coming in, and two babies to care for, Violet takes in a relative to help make ends meet. But far from easing her burden, it might turn out to be the worst decision she’s made.
As the Great War takes its toll on the nation, Violet faces her own battle. All alone in the world, can she protect her children, and herself? And will she ever find joy out of the depths of despair?
A captivating, emotional saga set in WW1 – will tug on your heart-strings and bring a tear to your eye. If you like Nadine Dorries, Rosie Goodwin or Sheila Newbury you will adore this beautiful Welsh saga.
Violet Jones plonked her slight body onto the Windsor armchair, its creaking groan a reminder of its age. She surveyed the kitchen slowly. The stained oilcloth on the table was scrubbed, the dishes washed, the dresser organised. The range was blackened to gleaming. Although it was a warm July day, she moved a little closer to the fire in the stove. Its crackling flames and sulphurous aroma gave her the comfort of the familiar. The area was as neat as it was possible for a room with such shabby furniture to be. She knew ‘shabby’ was too kind a description for her belongings, as it was for the deep rose walls, now smoke-stained.
But none of this bothered her much today. It was the lack of another body on the matching chair, sitting on the other side of the range, that chipped away at her heart, like a pick hewing coal. Her children, four-year-old Clarice and twenty-three-month-old Benjamin, had been tucked up in bed ten minutes before for a nap, worn out by a morning running around the allotments as Violet had picked and planted. The house was unnaturally quiet.
Her husband, Charlie, had signed up with the Rhondda Pals in March 1915. She counted in her head… One year and four months ago. The 13th Battalion of the 114th Brigade of the 38th (Welsh) Division, as he’d been at pains to remind her several times when home on leave in November last year. Morose, he’d been, on that occasion. He’d spent more time out with his pals than in with his family. Her tears had welled up when Clarice had asked why he was out again. But she’d kept strong for the children. That was before his brigade had been sent to the Front. His short and infrequent letters did not reveal the exact location.
Oh Charlie, what changed, cariad? What happened to the happy, joking boy I married? He might have survived the carnage of the war so far, but his spirit had floundered. Was it lost forever, like so many of the limbs of their brave soldiers?
Violet was confused at first by the address at the top of the letter. At the back of her mind she’d feared it would be news from the army to tell her Charlie had been killed. This was despite knowing that news like that arrived by telegram, and would have been dropped off not by the postwoman, but by the new telegram boy George Lewis, who’d recently taken on the job from the lad who’d been called up.
She looked next at the signature: Pte Dylan Davies, 114th Brigade, 38th (Welsh) Infantry Division. The same Pals’ Brigade Charlie was in.
She sat on the stairs, frightened to turn it back to the beginning of the letter. Why would one of his fellow soldiers be writing to her? She took a deep breath for courage and began.
War in the Valleys is out now for only 99p
About the Author
Several years ago, Francesca Capaldi pursued a childhood dream and joined a creative writing class. Lots of published short stories, a serial, and four pocket novels later, she’s now explored her mother’s ancestral history for a series of novels set in a Welsh colliery village. A history graduate and former teacher, she hails from the Sussex coast but now lives in Kent with her family and a cat called Lando Calrissian.