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Mary Jane Staples was born and brought up in the Walworth area of South London. She now lives in Surrey and is the author of over thirty bestselling novels about cockney life, many of which feature the well-loved Adams family.
An impetuous decision to marry has left the young Lady Caroline widowed and with two estates in her name. She is now in a position to live her life to the full, socialising with London's finest aristocracy, but her unhappy experience has put her off marrying again. Her younger sister, Annabelle, on the other hand, is falling in love with a man who is notoriously unfaithful. But Annabelle refuses to believe it, so Caroline knows she must intervene before she sees her sister fall victim to the same miserable fate she experienced. And so she hires the charming Captain Burnside, a retired British Army officer, to distract her. An adventurer who is both charming and witty, he seems the perfect man to tear Annabelle away from her infatuation. But things don't go quite according to Caroline's plan.
The delicious cockney sagas featuring her much extended Adams family continue with shadows from the past causing trouble.Comparison: Lynda Page, Meg Hutchinson, Joan Jonker.Similar this month: Audrey Howard.
The continuing saga of the troubles and strife in 1950s Walworth of the Adams family and as ever it really hits the mark
Family saga at its best from a household name. Fashion retailer Boots Adams is celebrating his sixtieth birthday with a good old-fashioned cockney knees-up. The new generation however is growing up and further changes are on the way. A big clothing firm wants to take over Adams Fashions, and Boots and Sammy have difficult decisions to make. An engrossing and hugely popular series.
When Baroness Sophie von Korvacs meets British painter James Fraser one hot summer's day in Vienna, the attraction is instant. A whirlwind romance follows, with Vienna bathed in the brilliance of the last days of the emperor. And when James proposes to Sophie it seems a fitting end to that wonderful, enchanting summer. But darker days are on the horizon as Europe teeters on the brink of war. James must make the ultimate choice: love for King and Country or love for Sophie. Before he knows it, his difficult decision is made for him, and he and Sophie are on opposite sides of a bloody and devastating conflict. Four bleak years of fighting and death roll by. Will Sophie's long winter ever end and can their love conquer all?
When young British agent John Kirby comes to Russia in 1911 he is there to work and to explore a new and exciting country. He does not expect to fall in love, but an invitation to a ball from the Tsar changes all that and, after an evening of dancing and romance, John and the Tsar's eldest daughter, Olga, are totally captivated by one another. Soon John is spending more time with Olga and her family, wonderful, long peaceful summers of tennis parties and picnics. But just as love begins to blossom between the pair, a cruel blow is dealt, John is forced to return to England and Olga and her family are caught up in the bitter and bloody war of 1914. Will John and Olga ever be reunited? Can their love survive the odds? Or will tragedy, pain and longing destroy them both?
The war is only into its second year, but already it has claimed one victim from the Adams family. Emily, Boots's cherished wife, has died in an air-raid,and the whole family mourns her. But for Polly Simms the prospect of a new life dawns, while the members of the younger generation who are in uniform, and doing their bit for King and Country, have their own problems to contend with. Tim has been posted to Scotland, to train as a Commando, and has met the lovely young officer Felicity; Eloise, now a sergeant in the ATS, is enjoying her new job as driver to the formidable Major Lucas. And has Rosie, now commissioned, lost her heart at last? The Blitz all but destroys the factory in Shoreditch, but Sammy and Tommy Adams manage to find some alternative accommodation. And love is in the air - for young and old alike - as the Adams family refuse to let Hitler get the better of them.
Charming, handsome Edward Somers has been recovering from his wartime injuries in a small hotel in the South of France where he is an extremely popular guest. One day, he happens upon a nearby villa, within which lives a mysterious and beautiful countess, Katerina, who does not appear to be allowed any visitors. Edward manages to break through to her and soon the pair develop a wonderful friendship. As each day passes the pair grow closer and closer but Edward soon finds there is more to Katerina than meets the eye. Why is she confined to the villa, guarded by a man with a rifle? Who is observing her with a telescope? Why is she so reluctant to be photographed? Soon a sinister chain of events begins to unfold, and several attempts on Katerina's life are made. Must Katerina always be on the run? Constantly forced into hiding, will she ever find the love she craves so dearly?
South London in the 1930s ...and Mrs Hilda Jones is fed up with her dull husband. She thought marrying would liven him up, but after twenty-five years he's just as boring as the day she married him , and now she wants to lead her own life. Her newly-married daughter, Olive, is shocked, but Hilda is adamant. Meanwhile, a heavy East End gang has moved into the area from Shoreditch, and has established a lucrative protection racket, bringing drama and anxiety to this closely-knit neighbourhood.
Young Maisie Gibbs is a conscientious young woman, though life is harder since both her parents passed away. She is relieved when she finds a position as a housemaid in Kensington, under the watchful eyes of the formidable housekeeper, Mrs Carpenter, and she quickly settles in. When she meets a handsome young soldier, she is tempted to give him his marching orders. But gradually Corporal Daniel Adams starts to win her over. When tragedy strikes the Fairfax household, Maisie is lucky she has Daniel to rely on - a good sign of things to come? A delight for fans of the Adams family - the heartwarming story of Daniel and Chinese Lady.
Boots Adams celebrates his 60th birthday in style with an old-fashioned Cockney knees-up, even if Gemma, James and the rest of the younger people insist that the music has to be rock and roll. The new generation of the family are growing up quickly - Philip and Phoebe are spending a lot of time together, and Maureen has ambitions to become a model, having her picture taken for the newspapers as she hopes for fame and fortune. Meanwhile, there are changes on the way. A local company wants to take over Adams Fashions, and Boots and Sammy have difficult decisions to make. Rosie and Matt are thinking about selling the farm, but worry about Joe and Hortense, their loyal workers. While Felicity has resigned herself to never regaining her sight, Polly sees a familiar face that she can't place - a mysterious stranger who is being sheltered in Walworth. Anneliese encounters someone she never wished to see again, and turns to Boots for help.
The 1950s are in full swing, and the Adams family is blessed with many new additions. Chinese Lady now has so many grandchildren that even she can sometimes scarcely remember them all. Boots and Sammy are kept up-to-date by the Adams youngsters , some of whom are now working in the family business. But they also welcome newcomers , including the lovely Anneliese, whose German ancestry makes her less than popular with some of her South London neighbours, and Joe and Hortense , newly arrived from the West Indies and working hard for Matt and Rosie on their farm in Kent. Sammy, meanwhile, has trouble with the newly-formed trade union at his factory, and the shadows of the war continue to haunt the family when Felicity's hopes for an operation which will save her sight are threatened by an extraordinary revelation. But the Adams family is still full of hope and promise for the future.
It is 1953 - Coronation year - and like all of Cockney London the members of the Adams family are looking forward to the celebrations. Chinese Lady, now Lady Finch, worries that her friends will think she is too grand to mingle with them . But her husband has a more pressing worry - the sudden appearance of the lovely but mysterious Katje Galicia, who knows more than she should about his own chequered past. Young Jimmy Adams, meanwhile, is enjoying working at the family clothing factory, where at the retirement party for two of the oldest employees, Bert and Gertie Roper, he meets their lively granddaughter Clare. Before long he has offered her a job on the switchboard, and has hopes of seeing her after working hours as well. And brave Felicity, blinded in the blitz, thinks she notices a glimmer of light appearing in her dark world - but dare not tell her husband, in case it is just her imagination... With the young Queen now on the throne, times are changing for the Adams family.
Excitement is running high in the Adams family. Mr Finch, after a long career in secret government work, is to be knighted - which means that Chinese Lady will become a real 'Lady'! What with having to find a new outfit suitable for the occasion, and worrying about whether she'll have to curtsey to the King, the redoubtable matriarch of the Adams family scarcely knows if she's coming or going. Her grandson Paul, meanwhile, working for the Young Socialists, is worried at what his fiery colleague Lucy will say if she learns that he has titled connections. And Sammy, trying to rebuild his clothing business after the War, is horrified at the growing fashion for denim jeans, which even the young ladies of the family seem to be wearing. Should he forsake his beliefs that girls should dress like girls and start stocking these objectionable garments? All differences are resolved, as the great day dawns when the Adams family goes to the Palace for their proudest moment.
From autumn 1941 to the first months of 1942, the war continued to affect the lives of the Adams and Somers families. It was not so much the war, however, as a succession of tragic domestic events that brought a sad and lonely little girl called Phoebe into the care of Susie and Sammy Adams, reminding them of the entry of Rosie as a child into the lives of Boots and Emily. Much needed to be done to cure little Phoebe of her sadness, and it proved a difficult time for Susie and Sammy. Further shadows fell when news came that Tim was a prisoner of war, and that Japan had attacked the American fleet in Pearl Harbour and British bases in the Far East. But Boots's French-born daughter Eloise had her dearest wish come true when she married Colonel Lucas of the Commandos in Alexandria.
It is summer, 1941, and the country is still at war. In the Devon village of Ashleigh, however, evacuees from the London blitz are living in an atmosphere of rural peacefulness, although Daisy Ricketts of Bermondsey isn't sure if she'll ever get on with carping Mrs Mumford, the subject of whispers because of her husband's mysterious disappearance. David, the elder son of Tommy and Vi Adams, meets Kate Trimble, a cockney girl from Camberwell who has just arrived in Ashleigh with her aunt. Kate is imaginative and precocious, while David is happy-go-lucky , and as the war is directly affecting the lives of so many other members of the Adams family, Kate and David establish a friendship in the summer sunshine of Devon. But as their friendship develops some exciting undercurrents, an incident occurs which brings home to them the darker intrigues of wartime and provides a devastating shock to everyone.
It was 1940, and many of the younger members of the Adams family were caught up in the war in France. Boots, now a Major and on the staff of General Sir Henry Simms, was one of the thousands of British troops trying to escape in the armada of little boats from Dunkirk. His son Tim and nephew Bobby were also struggling to reach the coast and safety, while Eloise was with the ATS awaiting the homecoming soldiers at Portsmouth with a comforting cup of tea and a ticket home. Boots and Tim both made it safely back, but of Bobby there was no sign, and the family all feared the worst. In a farm some miles from Dunkirk, however, Bobby was alive but injured, and trapped by the advancing Germans. The farmer and his wife offered him refuge but Helene, the farmer's independent-minded daughter, was scathing about the retreating British army and gave the brave, joking young sergeant a hard time. Working in the fields, dodging the German soldiers, Bobby was desperately looking for a way to escape and Helene, despite her hostility, found herself increasingly anxious to help the Englishman to get back home. Their adventures were to thrill the Adams family when they came to hear about it.
Job and Jemima Hardy weren't Londoners by birth. They had both lived in a Sussex village until lack of work had sent Job and the family to Walworth - to a house in Stead Street. They got it cheap because of the poltergiest but they were sensible folk and decided that eight shillings a week rent was a bargain and - well - if the floors and doors sometimes moved a bit, they could live with it. They settled quickly into London life - particularly Jonathan, the eldest. Jonathan got a job at Camberwell Green and it was there, in Lyons teashop, that he met Emma Somers, niece of Boots Adams. Over a long and hazy summer - the summer of 1939 - the two young people met, always at lunchtime, and never allowing their friendship to progress too far. Then, as the clouds of war gathered over Europe, Jonathan got his call-up papers. And the first alarms of conflict began to affect the Adams family in other ways. Boots, on the Officer's Reserve list, was called onto the staff of General Sir Henry Sims, and Polly Sims herself joined the Auxiliaries. Suddenly there was only a little time left for people to lead ordinary lives - and Jonathan Hardy and Emma Somers had to make decisions about their future.
Once they had been called Orrice and Effel, two bedraggled, scruffy waifs who lived rough off the streets of Walworth. Now they were Horrace and Ethel Cooper, grown up - quite respectable really - and living with their adopted parents, Jim and Rebecca Cooper. When Horrace saw the pretty girl who worked as a shop assistant in Adams (Ladies Fashion Modes) he was quite bowled over and knew he had to meet her. From then on he was in and out of the shop, buying hats and stockings and ribbons, trying desperately to persuade Miss Sally Brown to come out with him. And while he was laying siege to Sally, his sister Ethel was listening to her poet boyfriend spouting forth his romantic verse. But Ethel's involvement with the poet was to end more dangerously and dramatically than either she or Horrace had imagined and several quite startling events were to happen before Horrace and Ethel's affairs were resolved.
It was June 1916 when Sergeant Boots Adams of the Royal West Kents, together with his men, was billeted on the Descartes farm in Northern France. It was a short break from the turmoil and horror of the trenches, and Boots and his men, in return for their free billeting, were to help the farmer in his fields. It came as something of a surprise to discover that the land was being managed by a young French war widow, Cecile Lacoste and, to the distant sound of guns, a brief wartime friendship flared between Boots and Cecile. The friendship was cut brutally short when, once more, the West Kents were called back to the trenches and Boots suffered an injury that was to take him home to London, to Sammy and Chinese Lady, and all the valiant cockney friends of Walworth who were to help him through the darkest period of his life. It was to be many years before Boots' friend, Miss Polly Simms, visiting the old battle haunts of France, stumbled once more upon the Descartes farm, and the memories of the past were rekindled.