Figs, Vines and Roses – by Joy M. Lilley
Joy M. Lilley’s first novel ‘Figs, Vines and Roses’ tells a moving tale of love and loss at the turn of the nineteenth century.
In 1888 eight-year-old Issy Merryweather has a comfortable family life in Cobnut Hall, Derby. Sharing carefree summers with her brother Clarence, beloved dog Molly and cherished grandma Ella, Issy enjoys the freedom of childhood innocence. But as she comes of age a move to Kent changes her life forever.
When Issy meets Terence she is enraptured by him and despite his humble background an inseparable bond is formed in secret. But, it’s a secret which Issy will never escape after a heartbreaking turn in events…
Genre: Love, Romance, Fiction, Family Saga
Amazon Special Customer Review: Exceptionally well written, about a family in the 1800s, exciting, charismatic, immaculate detailed informative story!!
This story is an exciting period story, set in the late 1800s about a well-off family, there is Agnes & Ralph, two rather stoic parents, their son Clarence, and their daughter Isabella (Issy). Most of this is Issy relating the story, which I found heart-warming and one part in particular when she was remembering specific games they played as children, made me smile as I too had played the same games as a child.
It is a kind of coming-of-age tale, exceedingly well written, full of historical information with splendid attention to detail throughout the book.
Colorful characters, and the insight into the differences between well-off children and poor children, how the parents did not want their children mixing with each other. The children sneaking to meet each other to enjoy playing and having fun together. Rich kids tended to be snooty and aloof, so Izzy and her brother preferred to play with the poor kids, who were much more fun, more mischievous too.
The author has written an excellent book, with such finesse and attention to detail, which is very impressive.
In keeping with those times, Agnes and Ralph are very religious, and after the birth of both children, Agnes feels that her duty is done, and sex is off the menu. This, of course, leads to clandestine meetings between Ralph and one of his employees named Rose. Here we get a bit of romance thrown in but it does appear in other parts when the children’s grandmother recounts her youth and her romantic liaisons.
Issy is a very kind, caring and giving person, she likes to help others, it’s just her nature, where her brother Clarence is more inclined to look out for himself, he likes to be number 1.
The story has a lot of twists, turns, and surprises. It grips you from the start, those who love historical things will love this, but those who do not will not be put off the story as it is expertly placed within the story so much so that everything is believable and realistic. You almost feel transported back in time.
Reviewed by Lilian Flesher on 24 April 2015
Verified Purchase: Format: Kindle: 5.0 out of 5 Stars
The Liberty Bodice – by Joy M. Lilley
Gloria Harris is born in Market Harborough in the United Kingdom, in 1922. She spends the first few years of life living with her parents and grandfather. Her siblings, an older sister and twin brothers, also share the household. The relationship between Gloria and her mother is strained much of the time.
The early days of her life are spent in considerable poverty, so much so that Gloria and her sister are sent away to Northern Ireland to be with their aunt and uncle, who are more affluent than their parents, due to the improving circumstances for the farming community in Ireland. Her aunt and uncle have a smallholding and keep a few animals and poultry that provide them with eggs and milk: the land produces enough fresh vegetables for themselves and for sale at the local market. Gloria and her sister Ann are made to work hard during this time, helping out on the farm and with the household chores. Their aunt and uncle have no children and are not particularly kind to the girls. The sisters have to stay in Ireland much longer than they had been led to believe they would, and it is several years before they come home.
On their return to Market Harborough they discover that their brothers have both been in considerable trouble, one having made a girl pregnant and the other having stolen from his employer. Gloria realises that these circumstances were part of the reason why the girls had to stay away for so long.
At the age of sixteen Gloria is sent to France on a student exchange, where she stays in Nancy with the well-to-do family of Chantelle Valvoire, whom she befriends. Gloria has a penchant for languages and these talents are vastly enhanced during this period, when she speaks almost exclusively in French. She also loses her virginity to a dashing Frenchman and is terrified of pregnancy, but after she returns home, to her great relief, the putative pregnancy comes to an end. As a result of this experience she vows to have nothing more to do with men until she is older. This resolve soon weakens when she meets Geoffrey, a school teacher from London whom she encounters on the journey back from France. Once home, Gloria practices her love of languages in some form or another on most days, regularly enjoying conversing with her sister’s Dutch boyfriend, who helps and encourage her linguistic achievements. He teaches French and German at the school she attended.
The Second World War begins and Gloria does her bit for the war effort by working on the land after leaving school. But she is restless, anxious to play a much more active role in fighting for her country. After hearing an appeal from the Home Office for foreign language experts to work abroad, she finds out all she can about joining the Special Operations Executive (SOE). After some considerable time, she secures an interview to join what became known as ‘Churchill’s secret army: the S.O.E. Her family are horrified at what their youngest daughter is letting herself in for and try their best to dissuade her, unsuccessfully.
After going through the rigid and arduous training to become an S.O.E. officer, she is sent into occupied France, where she is involved in a number of successful missions. Eventually she is captured by the Gestapo and sent to Fresnes prison in Paris, then on to the notorious Dachau Concentration Camp. In both places she is treated appallingly, being starved and tortured, and to avoid the likelihood of her inevitable death, she hatches a plan of escape. After doing so she has many trials and tribulations, after which she finally meets the brave Résistance leader and accomplished navigator, Sabien. He acts as guide for Gloria and some other stragglers through war-torn France and helps them back to England. Her feelings for him gradually turn from hate to love and they marry on the journey home. Sabien is subsequently summoned to the Normandy beaches to do vital Resistance tasks, and they part company until sometime later, when all hell is let loose.
Genre: Historical Fiction, Women’s Fiction, Contemporary Fiction
Cold Coffee Press Spotlight Interview With Author Joy M. Lilley
Author Bio: Hello, My name is Joy Gerken, pen name Joy M. Lilley.
My first novel is ‘Figs, Vines and Roses’ a tale of love and loss at the turn of the nineteenth century.
My second novel is called ‘The Liberty Bodice’. This is a completely different genre to the first novel and follows the trials and tribulations of a young girl working for the Special Operations Executive [S.O.E.] in W.W.2.
You can also find my short story ‘Lost and Found’ published in Liphar short stories Vol 1. [Liphar short stories} by Liphar magazine.
In 2016 my novella ‘Times pendulum swings again’ was published. This tells of a hospital romance that starts well, until the truth about the surgical registrar admitting to his nurse girlfriend that he is married with two sons back home in Nepal.
I am hoping to release my forth publication ‘Strawberry moon’ a crime, mystery set in the Dordogne, France.
What makes you proud to be a writer? I am proud to write as it feeds my eternally active imagination.
What or who inspired you to become a writer? I joined a book reading club. This in turn encouraged my reading. Always wanting to write but having little opportunity previously because of an exhausting full-time job. Since retiring I now feel more fulfilled and happy.
When did you begin writing with the intention of becoming published? Following retirement from a long nursing career, I wrote avidly thus resulting in three published novels.
What has been your most rewarding experience with your writing and publishing process? Having been traditionally published by two publishing houses.
How many published books do you have? Three.
Please list the titles of all your books: Figs, Vines and Roses, The Liberty Bodice and Times Pendulum Swings Again.
Please introduce your main genre and why you prefer to write in that genre? I don’t have a preference and the three stories written are all in a different genre.
What do you enjoy doing when you are not writing? Being a part of a large family with Grandchildren and Great Grandchildren. Travelling and being a voice over artist.
What one positive piece of advice would you give to other authors? Never, ever give up. Listen to wise advice on what works and what doesn’t work in producing the written word.
Who is your favorite author and why? Several, I enjoy everything I have read from Rose Tremain. She writes in the same fashion as I see the world. I admire the works of Patrick Gale. He writes exquisitely from the heart and the books I have read of his have inspired me and of course, the lengthy works of John Steinbeck. I could not put his Grapes of Wrath down.
Additional Questions or Information (Given by Author): I am a retire trained nurse, having worked for almost 50 years in the profession. I love the life I now have with time to read and write. I also spend a considerable amount of my time doing voice over works and have V. O’D a few children’s stories, some of which I have also written.
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