Gracie

 Gracie - Women And War

Gracie

Women And War Book 1

London 1938 – Gracie Thompson has a job, a loving family, a twin brother who drives her insane and a great friend. A chance meeting introduces her to the love of her life, but the storm clouds are gathering. Europe is teetering on the verge of war and threatening to destroy everything Gracie holds dear. When war arrives her family is split up; her lover is in daily danger and her life is threatened. Her father and boyfriend believe a woman’s place is in the home, but she is equally determined to do her duty for King and Country.

Gracie succeeds in her ambition to do her bit, but at what cost? Will she ever see her twin again? And can she live with the knowledge her actions may have led to the loss of the one man she loves. Not only could he die, but he may do so believing she never loved him. Is she brave enough to pull the life she wants back from the abyss?

Digital Price – Free

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Reviews

This is a great tale of how it was back in the mid 1900’s, told with amazingly accurate facts and a lot of heart. Gracie is a great female lead–she’s strong-willed and confident with a heart of gold. In fact, every character is so important, even those who don’t appear for more than a page or so. It’s a vivid book with a heartbreaking narrative and a wonderful love story at its heart. It shows how women were treated with kid gloves back then (unless they were laboring in the kitchen, of course!) and how we longed to be free to fight and do our part to help our countries. I enjoyed reading this and I’m sure you will too, reader. It will leave you wanting more from Penny! Kelly S.

A wonderful historically correct story of life during WWII in London. Gracie works as a personal maid for a well-to-do family. She wants to do her part for the war as well as try to function every day as normal as possible and finds love in the process. I loved it just for the historical value! Amazon Customer

Excerpt

Gracie

Chapter 1

London, 1937

The lights dimmed. Gracie settled comfortably in her seat, sucking on some toffee Stan had bought her as a bribe for coming to see this particular film. She didn’t like sci-fi films but she had flipped a coin and lost. If she had won, they would be watching the latest Charlie Chaplin film. He made her laugh.

The heavy curtains drew open, the credits already rolling. The cinema filled with the sound of Christmas carols, a family sitting around the Christmas tree with the children opening their toys. The male characters were talking about the possibility of war, but that’s what all the men she knew did. Maybe it won’t be so bad.

*****

Gracie headed into the lobby as soon as the lights came on, the full skirts of her dress swirling around her as she walked. Stan had to hurry to keep up with her.

“Did you see the way the pilot downed the German? I wouldn’t have given him a gun. He could have been shot in the back. You can’t trust those Germans.”

“Stan, you talk as if you were there.”

“I felt like I was. It seemed so real, especially the bit about the …”

“I was sitting beside you. I don’t need a rerun of the film. I can’t believe I wasted my night off.”

“Stop waving your hands about, Gracie. People are looking. I said I’m sorry. It wasn’t a woman’s film. But I had to see it. Now I know why everyone’s talking about it. Can you imagine how it feels to fly?”

“You and your flying.” Gracie threw Stan an irritated glance while trying to hold her hands by her side. Her mother said she spoke with her hands when she was excited or annoyed. “Thanks to you, I will be dreaming about being bombed out of my home. Why do they make films like this anyway?”

“Maybe to shock us out of complacency?” said a stranger walking behind them.

Gracie crossed her arms before turning to the broad-shouldered gentleman who interrupted their chat. She couldn’t say anything. Her mouth went dry as she looked up into the clear blue eyes staring back at her. She wanted to look away, but his fixed stare held her gaze. Her pulse throbbed wildly; she resisted the urge to put her hand to her neck.

“Charlie Power, what are you doing here?” Stan shook the stranger’s hand warmly.

“Same as you, although I didn’t force my young lady to come with me.”

“Nobody forced me. I wanted to see what everyone was talking about,” Gracie said, not quite sure why she had lied. “Please excuse us.” Gracie was overcome with the need to get away. “Stan, we best get home.” She turned for the exit but Stan placed his hand on her arm, preventing her escape.

“But, Gracie, I thought we were going for some chips first. Mam isn’t expecting us for ages. Charlie, would you like to join us?”

Raising her eyebrow, Gracie dared the stranger to say no. “I am sure Mr Power has plans for the evening,” she said.

“No, I’m free and would love to join you, if I wouldn’t be intruding. Stan, you haven’t introduced us. Please excuse my friend’s manners, Miss …?” He leaned toward her, holding out his hand. “Charles Power, but my friends call me Charlie.”

The smell of Brylcreem didn’t mask his manly scent. Her breath quickened as her pulse raced. For one crazy moment, she wanted him to hold her in his arms. Waves of heat rolled over her body. She grabbed Stan’s arm, afraid she would fall.

“Gracie, you okay? You’re awfully pale.”

She pulled at the collar of her coat. “Stop fussing, Stan. I am fine.” What on earth just happened? Almost afraid to look at the man and terrified to actually touch him, in case he could feel her heart trembling, she quickly shook his hand. “Gracie Thompson.”

“Thompson.” He spoke quietly but it was the only sound she heard, even in the noisy cinema lobby. Everything around them had faded. “You’re Stan’s sister?”

“Well, I’m hardly his mother.” She knew she was being rude, but she couldn’t help it. “Nice to meet you, Mr Power. I hope you enjoy the rest of your evening. Stan, I really want to go home now. I have a headache.”

“Please take your sister home, Stan. It’s getting late and she does seem out of sorts.”

Gracie lifted her head and caught him smiling down at her. She resisted the urge to stamp her feet. He was laughing at her and she only had herself to blame. She wanted to curl up in bed and forget tonight had ever happened.

“Yeah, she’s acting really funny. Gracie’s normally okay, but then that’s girls for you. Are you free Sunday? A couple of us are going to the game. Want to join us?”

“Are you going to the game, Miss Thompson?”

“No, I can’t as I have to work on Sunday.” Gracie met his gaze. “Nice to meet you, Mr Power. Please accept my apologies, but I must go. I don’t feel well.”

“I hope you feel better and look forward to meeting you again, Miss Thompson. Soon.” Charlie turned his attention to Stan. “The game sounds great. Will I meet you at the Hare and Hound?”

“See you there. Goodnight, Charlie.”

*****

Gracie closed the back door, grateful for the blast of hot air from the kitchen fire.

“Hello, love. How was the film?”

“Awful, Mam. It was all about a war with bombs, guns and planes. I could kill our Stan for making me go. He loved it. He’s outside now telling the lads all about it.”

“I just put the kettle on, so why don’t you sit down and I will make a cuppa.”

“That would be lovely, thanks. Is Dad still at work?”

“No, Gracie. He’s in listening to the wireless.”

Gracie knocked on the front room door before entering. It was in darkness, and she was just about to leave when she made out the figure of her father sitting there, fingering his medals.

“You all right, Dad?”

He didn’t answer.

“Dad?” Worried, she went to him and gently touched his hand. He jumped.

“Sorry, love, I was miles away. What did you say?”

“I just wondered if you were okay sitting here in the dark. What do you have there?”

“Nothing, love.”

“Let me see, Dad. You never talk about your medals. Mr Brownlow has his displayed on the mantelpiece. I think Mrs B. spends her life polishing them, they are so shiny.”

“They’re just pieces of tin. They don’t mean anything.”

“That’s not true, Dad. Mam said you got them for being brave.”

“I wasn’t brave. I survived. Precious few of us did. They had to give out medals to someone.”

“Dad, why don’t you talk about the war? Is it because Uncle Percy died in it?”

“Aye, your Uncle Percy and millions of others. Did you know someone had this daft idea to form regiments from local areas so the men would know who they were serving with? It’s bad enough when a stranger dies, but when it’s your mates …”. Her father took a deep breath before continuing in a shaky, husky voice. “I’ll never forget the constant noise. I expected the sound of shooting, but when it is mixed in with artillery fire, grenades, bombs and the cries of men mortally wounded … grown men crying for their mothers—you can’t imagine what it’s like until you are standing in the middle of it. And the smell. We were warned about poison gas, but nobody mentioned the smell of the mud. It clung to your feet and anything else it came in contact with. We often had to fling ourselves on to the ground. In to that mud. On top of the countless bodies buried under our feet.”

“Dad, stop please.” Gracie knelt at his feet. Although he looked down, his eyes didn’t see her.

“You learned early on not to look too closely at that mud.”

Her father stopped talking, but his glassy eyes scared her more than his words.

“They sent us in against machine guns. Rows and rows of men mown to the ground. Mates I knew since birth blown to smithereens all around me. Bloody bayonets we had fixed to our guns. It’s a wonder any of us survived. And now they want to start all over again.”

“Maybe there won’t be a war.”

Her father looked down at her. “It’s only a matter of time before another war breaks out, Gracie. Too much unfinished business is left from the last time. That Hitler means business. Barely twenty years after the war that was supposed to end all wars. It will be just like last time, only instead of cheering my older brother and my mates off to war, I have to send my boys. Be thankful you’re a girl, Gracie. War is no place for women.”

Gracie was terrified. She had never seen her father so downtrodden. So despairing. If she didn’t know better, she would swear she saw a hint of tears in his eyes. But that didn’t make sense. Men like her father didn’t cry, especially not in front of their daughters.

She wanted to be a little girl again, with her big brave father who would keep her safe forever. The world was changing, and Gracie wasn’t sure she liked it.