I’m pleased to be sharing an extract from Elaine Everest’s latest historical novel, The Patchwork Girls. I was sent a copy of this for review which I’ll be reading later. It came with a lovely handmade bookmark, which is very appropriate with the theme of crafting being a feature of the book as you’ll see from this extract from chapter three.
The Patchwork Girls by Elaine Everest – Chapter 3 Extract
The doors opened and a horde of women and excited children entered, filling the empty hall with noisy chit-chat. Effie emerged from the kitchen, looking round the newly busy space before coming over to join Helen. ‘I don’t think I’m needed; a couple of other women have taken over,’ she said, looking slightly downcast.
‘I hope they didn’t say anything rude to you?’ Helen was ready to be offended on her behalf.
‘No, not at all. It’s just . . . I’m not good with strangers and I didn’t want to step on anyone’s toes, so I slid out after saying hello.’
Helen understood how she felt. It was better sometimes to slide away than stay and be ignored, or spoken to dismissively. There were times she could put on a brave face, but there were plenty of other times when it didn’t work. ‘Oh look, Effie,’ she said as one of the women came out of the kitchen, scanned the room and approached them.
‘There you are! I wanted to say thank you, but you vanished. It’s not often we arrive to a clean and tidy kitchen, I can tell you. It saves so much time, especially when I’m running late. I’m Jean Carter, I knit and do kitchen duties – I make a mean cake, too. My cohort is Ivy Brown, she’s our expert on rag rugs and tea-making. That’s why Tish delegated us to kitchen duties, bless her,’ she grinned.
The women shook hands with Jean. ‘What’s a rag rug?’ Helen asked.
‘That question shows how posh you are,’ Effie chuckled. ‘We had a couple made by my mum, but I left them behind when we left the East End. Mum made ours out of old rags, and they last for years and cost hardly anything to make. I’d love to try again, especially if I need to provide a home for me and the kids.’
‘I’m intrigued,’ Helen said, ignoring the comment about being posh. She had never thought of herself that way, although anyone who’d met her mother might see it differently.
Jean slipped her arm through Effie’s. ‘You must come and meet Ivy properly. She can help furnish your home, as she’s a dab hand with rags. If you don’t mind being a third pair of hands in the kitchen, it would be wonderful. We’re expecting quite a few people today as we have a speaker and there’s been a lot of interest about Tish’s new group. Let’s face it, it’s a good way to kill a few hours – even if some women ignore the orders to leave their children at home.’ She winked. ‘Would you like to join us?’ she asked Helen.
‘No, I’ll stay here and help Tish with the seats. If there are more coming along, we might need to pull out extra chairs.’ Helen smiled, hoping that was the case and she didn’t stand there on her own looking like a lemon.
Thanks to Courtney at ED Public Relations for sending me a copy of the book and inviting me to take part in the tour. The Patchwork Girls by Elaine Everest is out now, published by Pan Macmillan in paperback original, priced £7.99
About the book
1939. After the sudden and tragic loss of her husband, Helen is returning home to her mother’s house in Biggin Hill, Kent – the one place she vowed she’d never go back to again.
Alone and not knowing where to turn, Helen finds herself joining the local women’s sewing circle despite being hopeless with a needle and thread. These resourceful women can not only make do and mend clothes, quilts and woolly hats, but their friendship mends something deeper in Helen too. Lizzie is a natural leader, always ready to lend a helping hand or a listening ear. Effie has uprooted her life from London to keep her two little girls away from the bombing raids, and the sewing circle is a welcome distraction from worries about how to keep a roof over their heads and about her husband too, now serving in active duty overseas.
When the reason for Helen’s husband’s death comes to light, her world is turned upside down yet again. The investigating officer on the case, Richard, will leave no stone unturned, but it’s not long before his interest in Helen goes beyond the professional. As she pieces together old fabrics into a beautiful quilt, will Helen patch up the rifts in her own life?
The Patchwork Girls by Elaine Everest is a moving story about the ties of friends and family, set during the turbulence of the Second World War.
About the Author
Elaine Everest is the author of bestselling novels The Woolworths Girls, The Butlins Girls, Christmas at Woolworths and The Teashop Girls. She was born and raised in North-West Kent, where many of her bestselling historical sagas are set. She grew up listening to tales of the war years in her hometown of Erith, which has inspired her own stories.
Elaine has been a freelance writer for 25 years and has written over 100 short stories and serials for the women’s magazine market. She is also the author of a number of popular non-fiction books for dog owners.
When she isn’t writing, Elaine runs The Write Place creative writing school in Hextable, Kent. She now lives in Swanley with her husband, Michael and their Polish Lowland Sheepdog, Henry.
Facebook: Elaine Everest Author page