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Margaret Mayhew was born in London and her earliest childhood memories were of the London Blitz. She began writing in her mid-thirties and had her first novel published in 1976. She is married to American aviation author, Philip Kaplan, and lives in Gloucestershire. Her novels, Bluebirds, The Crew, The Little Ship, Our Yanks, The Pathfinder and Those In Peril are all published by Corgi Books.
She lived only for pleasure...until war forced her to find courage she did not know she had, and love where she least expected it. It is 1941, and while Britain is in the grip of war, life in the Far East is one of wealth and privilege. In Singapore Susan Roper, secure in the supremacy of the British Empire, enjoys dancing,clothes and fast cars, tennis and light flirtations with visiting naval officers- her life is devoted solely to pleasure. When she meets an Australian doctor who warns her of the danger that they all face she dismisses him as an ignorant colonial. Singapore goes on partying, oblivious to the threat of invasion. The British flag will, they believe, protect them from all enemies. But when Japan invades, Susan finds herself in grave danger. She become an ambulance driver and is taken prisoner by the Japanese. Gradually and reluctantly she realises that she has fallen in love with the tough, arrogant and totally unsuitable doctor, but she has to face many hardships and witness terrible events before she can acknowledge the truth.
1939 - Officer Felicity Newman and a ragtag group of young women arrive at RAF Colston. They are the first of the Women's Auxiliary Air Force: brave female pilots ready to do their bit. But Station Commander, David Palmer, doesn't want them. They're a nuisance, unable to do the work of men, and they would undoubtedly fall apart if the station was bombed. Felicity is determined to prove the worth of her 'Bluebirds'. There's Anne, who loves to dance but finds herself peeling vegetables in the station kitchens. Winnie, longs to work on the aeroplanes themselves but meets rejection at every turn. And Virginia, who is desperate to build a new life for herself. As the war goes on, so the girls make their mark - behaving heroically under fire, supporting the pilots with their strength, loyalty, and often their love - a love sometimes tragic, sometimes passionate, but always courageous.
BERLIN 1948: - A vanquished city of rubble - sliced into sections by the Allies, and set well back behind the Russian lines. A city of old women, black marketers and sleazy cabarets in ruined cellars. In the British sector was Squadron Leader Michael Harrison, a war hero who had helped to bomb Berlin into fragments. He hated the Nazis who had killed his sister and her children. But here he was, doing his best to ensure that food and fuel was somehow brought in to save the surviving Berliners. In the Russian sector was young Lili Leicht, German, middle-class daughter of a university professor and now living in the ruins of her former home, trying to prevent her grandfather and two younger brothers from dying of malnutrition. Her mother had been killed by British bombers. As the tensions in the smoldering city grew worse, so Michael and Lili slowly fell in love. It was a love that surmounted all the prejudices and hatreds of war and offered a hope of understanding for the future.
BERLIN 1948: - A vanquished city of rubble - sliced into sections by the Allies, and set well back behind the Russian lines. A city of old women, black marketeers and sleazy cabarets in ruined cellars.In the British sector was Squadron Leader Michael Harrison, a war hero who had helped to bomb Berlin into fragments. He hated the Nazis who had killed his sister and her children. But here he was, doing his best to ensure that food and fuel was somehow brought in to save the surviving Berliners.In the Russian sector was young Lili Leicht, German, middle-class daughter of a university professor and now living in the ruins of her former home, trying to prevent her grandfather and two younger brothers from dying of malnutrition. Her mother had been killed by British bombers.As the tensions in the smouldering city grew worse, so Michael and Lili slowly fell in love. It was a love that surmounted all the prejudices and hatreds of war and offered a hope of understanding for the future.
When Juliet Porter's mother dies, she leaves Juliet some old letters and a photograph which shatter all her previously-held beliefs. They show that her real father was an American bomber pilot in the second world war, some forty years before, and that he had met her mother while serving in England. Armed only with this photo, Juliet sets out to trace her real father, and eventually finds the airfield where he served. In 1943, Juliet's mother Daisy is in the WAAF and stationed at the airfield which is taken over by the American airmen at a moment's notice. She falls in love with a bomber pilot who is then posted missing, presumed dead; pregnant and grieving, she marries a long-term admirer only to discover, at the end of the war, that her pilot had survived...
In 1940, as the shadows are lengthening over Europe, painter Louis Duval decides to leave his studio in Brittany and, in his small motor boat, make the short but perilous journey to England. His aim is not to flee from the enemy, but to join the Resistance to fight for his beloved France. He arrives in Dartmouth and finds his way to the boarding house run by the delightful young widow Barbara Hillyard, who is trying to make a living for herself and her young evacuee Esme. Lieutenant-Commander Alan Powell, unfit for active service after being wounded in action, is overseeing undercover operations in that part of the West Country, and he and Duval find themselves in dangerous circumstances. Alan, lonely and frustrated in his work, is drawn towards the lovely Mrs Hillyard, but she seems to have eyes only for the attractive Frenchman...
It is 1943, and three very different girls are longing to do their bit for the war effort. Frances - her life of seeming privilege has been a lonely one. Brave and strong, stifled by her traditional upbringing, she falls for a most unsuitable man Prudence - timid and conventional, her horizons have never strayed beyond her job as a bank clerk in Croydon until the war brings her new experiences Rosalind - a beautiful, flame-haired actress who catches the eye of Frances's stuffy elder brother, the heir to an ancestral mansion. The three become friends when they join the band of women working the canal boats, delivering goods and doing a man's job while the men are away fighting. A tough, unglamorous task - but one which brings them all unexpected rewards.
Set largely on the Essex coast before the war, Matt, Guy, and their young cousin Lizzie meet up for holidays and bum around in an old boat. Guy is the eldest, handsome, skilled at everything, a tad selfish. Matt is quieter and has a crippled right arm. Lizzie adores them both, to the extent of putting up with being sea-sick everytime they go out in the old boat and continually getting bashed on the head by the sail. These are idyllic days of sun, and sea, the golden era of the thirties. Lizzie's father is a doctor and, as the thirties progress, they take the daughter of a Viennese colleague into their home, a Jewish girl called Anna, who is miserable and hates England, and misses her Jewish family and friends. The fifth child to join them is Otto, son of a German diplomat, reared in the best traditions of the Hitler doctrine and destined for the army. These five have a tense and highly involved relationship as they grow up. Anna is resented by the English boys but one of them eventually comes to love her. Otto's relationship with her is more complicated. She is, after all, a Jew. They have one wonderful day together when somehow their rivalries are forgotten as they fight the sea in the little ship, and when they all write their names on the mast. Then the world explodes into war and they all go their separate ways. They all meet again at Dunkirk. Anna getting out from France at the last moment with the help of Guy, Otto as part of the victorious Reich, and Lizzie and Matt taking the little ship over to save them from the beaches. It is strong, wonderful, atmospheric, romantic with intriguing characters, all involved with each other in love/hate relationships.