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Annie Murray graduated from Oxford in 1983. She has worked as a journalist and a nurse, has had short stories published in several magazines, and won the She/Granada Television Short Story Competition in 1991. She now lives in Reading with her husband and four children, Brummies all.
Sisters Margaret and Annie lost their mother years ago, they long for her every day. Their protective and devout father keeps the girls close. But he can't protect them all the time . . . When a scandal rocks this family unit to their core, the girls are forced to leave their home under a shadow of secrecy. The girls arrive in the Birmingham's famous jewellery quarter one stifling August evening to stay with their uncle, goldsmith Ebenezer Watts. Annie takes up work at a nearby factory, but it's not the work that interests her. Her kind and soft nature, means that her attention is drawn to the immediate need of her impoverished colleagues and the wretched lives they lead. Meanwhile, Ebenezer employs Margaret as a chain maker. When Margaret meets silversmith Philipp Tallis, she is drawn to him instantly. Margaret is forced closer to this mysterious man in the cramped workshop, as they create objects of beauty. But what is it the Sisters of Gold are hiding? Even though they've escaped their past once, it can't stay hidden forever . . .
A tale of hardship and survival, The Doorstep Child is a heart-rending story from bestselling author Annie Murray. From a tender age little Evie struggled ...Evie spent her early years left outside on the step. With a drunk for a father and a neglectful mother, all little Evie has ever craved is a safe home and a normal existence. Her young eyes had seen so much but this never tainted her spirit. If it wasn't for her best friend Gary, and friendly dog called Whisky - Evie might never have made it to the sixteenth birthday. At sixteen she meets Ken, a sweet brown-eyed boy, not much older than she is. Perhaps her fortunes have changed? But no sooner does she give over her heart, she is betrayed, not for the first time in her young life...Will Evie ever find the love and warmth she's always craved?
Rachel Booker has a difficult start in life. When her father dies, deep in gambling debt, her mother must harden herself to make ends meet, but becomes so hard she has little room left for affection or warmth. Mother and daughter work at the open market in Birmingham, selling second-hand clothes or whatever they can find just to put a little food on the table. But the market has a silver lining: it's there that Rachel makes her first childhood friend, Danny. As they grow older, the friendship grows into something more and their innocent romance gives Rachel the care and comfort she's always craved. But at just sixteen, as World War II breaks out, Rachel falls pregnant. They marry in haste but it isn't long before Danny is called up. Left on the homefront with a new baby and little else, Rachel must scrape by with the other residents of Sparkbrook. But if Danny ever makes it home, will he be the same boy she loved so fiercely? And if Rachel can sustain the family until then, will she end up as hard-hearted as her own mother? War Babies is a moving and insightful novel about hardships on the homefront and how the war changed everybody it touched...
Growing up in Birmingham, Sylvia and Audrey Whitehouse have always been like chalk and cheese. When the Second World War breaks out, Sylvia is still dreaming of her forthcoming marriage to fiance Ian while Audrey jumps at the career opportunities the WAAF throws her way. Audrey joins the ranks at RAF Cardington but soon finds that her new freedom also brings temptation. When she goes too far, the consequences ripple through the Whitehouse family. Meanwhile, Sylvia is doing her bit as a railway porter, much to Ian's dismay. Ian thinks the job is unfeminine - unlike Sylvia's new friend Kitty, who is as sweet and pretty as can be. But Kitty's innocent nature hides a dark secret ...As the pressures of rationing, bombing raids and sleepless nights grow, the two sisters must decide what they really want from life and if they're brave enough to fight for it. A heartbreaking yet inspiring novel, perfect for fans of Margaret Dickinson and Katie Flynn.
In 1984 two young mothers meet at a toddler group in Birmingham. As their friendship grows, they share with each other the difficulties and secrets in their lives: Joanne, a sweet, shy girl, is increasingly afraid of her husband. The lively, promising man she married has become hostile and violent and she is too ashamed to tell anyone. When her mother, Margaret is suddenly rushed into hospital, the bewildered family find that there are things about their mother of which they had no idea. Margaret was evacuated from Birmingham as a child and has spent years avoiding the pain of her childhood but finds that you can't run from the past forever. Sooky, kind and good-natured, has already been through one disastrous marriage and is back at home living with her parents. But being 'disgraced' is not easy. Her mother, Meena, refuses to speak to Sooky. At first her silence seems like a punishment, but Sooky gradually realizes it contains emotions which are far more complicated and that her mother may need her help. Meena has spent 20 years trying to fit in with life in Birmingham, and to deal with the conflicts within her between east and west, old ways and new. This is the story of two young women discovering the heartbreak of their mothers' lives, and of how mothers create daughters and learn from them.
1950 - Seven year old Carol Martin lies encased in an iron lung, struck down by the killer disease, polio. Distraught at her side, her mother, Violet, wonders if this is her punishment - for Carol is the love child who should not have been born . . . Family of Women is the story of three generations of women: Bessie: scarred by a childhood of poverty in the slums of Victorian Birmingham and left a young widow with four children, is a hard, bullying woman who will go to disturbing lengths to keep her family under her thumb. Violet: one of Bessie's four children, marries young to escape, into the arms of a man whose life will be broken by war. Linda: grows up on a large housing estate in the 1950s with older sister Joyce and her beloved young sister Carol. Intelligent and energetic, she craves education and something more than the life she sees around her. Torn from her longed for place at the grammar school, she gives up hoping for anything better. It takes a tragic love affair to make her question the limitations of her life and the secrets which haunt her family. Spanning more than half of the last century, Family of Women by Annie Murray is a story of one family - and of the joys, struggles and changes in women's lives.
Black Country Orphan is a moving story of the courage and strength of women, by the Sunday Times bestselling author Annie Murray. The early 1900s: Cradley Heath, a town in the Black Country near Birmingham and centre of the world's chain-making trade. Lucy Butler, a young girl crippled by a cruel accident, lives with her two brothers and widowed mother, a chain-maker barely making ends meet. When tragedy strikes, the Butler family is separated and Lucy is taken in by Bertha Hipkiss, another impoverished chain maker, struggling to look after her own family. Lucy, while feeling the loss of her own family, relies on the company of Bertha's two sons, charming Clem and straight-laced John. Though clever at school, Lucy knows she must leave and earn her keep, working many hours in the backyard forge. The five women toiling side by side, inevitably have their own friendships and squabbles. But they're united in their hatred of loathsome middleman Seth Dawson, who treats the women with contempt, and keeps their pay punishingly low. But by the 1910s, there is a movement stirring, as across the country workers begin unionising for their rights. For Lucy, Bertha and the women of Cradley Heath, the promise of a better life seems almost too much to hope for - and the fight may end up costing them everything . . .
1940 - Small Heath, in the heart of Birmingham, is facing the darkest days of the war. Two very different girls from this tight-knit community join up as ARP wardens to do their bit for the Home Front. Violet Simms lives with her controlling, widowed mother who runs the local pawn shop. At just twenty-years-old, Violet longs for friendship, love and escape. It seems her dreams might come true until tragedy strikes on one of the very worst nights of the Birmingham Blitz. Grace Templeton is the eldest in her family of ten children. Spirited Grace is determined never to become burdened by child bearing and drudgery like her mother. Adored by childhood sweetheart, Jimmy Oval, Grace believes she can do better. Volunteering as an ARP warden feels like a chance for adventure - until she sees the horror and reality of war first hand. In this blacked out city, where not everyone is quite what they seem, she comes to realize she is less in control of events than she had thought. The war will have long-lasting effects on every family... Long buried secrets come to light, and their stories are woven together amid the intense bombing of Birmingham. The girls' lives will be changed forever by friendship and love, by tragedy and joy. Girls in Tin Hats is the heart-wrenching generational saga by Sunday Times top ten bestselling author Annie Murray.
Mother and Child by Sunday Times bestseller Annie Murray is a moving story of loss, friendship and hope over two generations . . . Jo and Ian's marriage is hanging by a thread. One night almost two years ago, their only child, Paul, died in an accident that should never have happened. They have recently moved to a new area of Birmingham, to be near Ian's mother Dorrie who is increasingly frail. As Jo spends more time with her mother-in-law, she suspects Dorrie wants to unburden herself of a secret that has cast a long shadow over her family. Haunted by the death of her son, Jo catches a glimpse of a young boy in a magazine who resembles Paul. Reading the article, she learns of a tragedy in India . . . But it moves her so deeply, she is inspired to embark on a trip where she will learn about unimaginable pain and suffering. As Jo learns more, she is determined to do her own small bit to help. With the help of new friends, Jo learns that from loss and grief, there is hope and healing in her future. 'Humane, heartbreaking yet hopeful. Annie Murray at her absolute best.' - Kate Thompson, author of Secrets of the Homefront Girls
1915. Margaret and Philip Tallis are happily married, have a thriving business and three children, Daisy, John and Lily. At 20, Daisy is an impassioned, headstrong girl, determined to follow her parents' footsteps in Birmingham's jewellery trade. While studying at the college for silversmiths she meets an old rival of her father's. James Carson is married, but Daisy finds herself dangerously drawn to him . . . As war tightens its grip on the country, the Jewellery Quarter is thrown into anguish as the men are forced to decide who will enlist. In the turmoil, will Margaret be able to hold her business and her family together? The Silversmith's Daughter is the emotional sequel to the Sunday Times bestseller Sisters of Gold by Annie Murray.
What could tear the sisters apart? Sisters Margaret and Annie lost their mother years ago, they long for her every day. Their frightfully protective father keeps the girls close but he can't protect them forever . . . When a scandal rocks the family, the girls are forced to leave their home. The girls flee to Birmingham's jewellery quarter to stay with the one person they can rely on - their uncle, goldsmith Ebenezer Watts and his warm-hearted wife, Hatt. Annie takes up work at a nearby factory, where she learns to forge cutlery, and Margaret is employed as a chain maker. By day Margaret works in cramped confines, alongside a local silversmith, and soon the links between the pair begin to bond . . . Annie's work in the factory exposes her to great horrors but it also opens her heart to great possibility. But what are the Sisters of Gold hiding? They've escaped their past once - can it remain hidden? Sisters of Gold is an emotional and heart-warming story set against a richly imagined Birmingham setting, from Annie Murray, author of The Doorstep Child.
A heartfelt Birmingham saga, Birmingham Rose is Annie Murray's debut novel and was a Sunday Times bestseller. Life is bleak for Rose Lucas, a spirited, intelligent girl, born into a large family in the slums of pre-war Birmingham. But her friendship with Diana, daughter of a vicar from middle-class Moseley, gives her hope. She learns to aspire to a different kind of existence, vowing never to become a child-bearing drudge like her mother. Life, however, never follows the way of dreams. After a childhood marked by tragedy, Rose eventually finds and loses the love for which she has striven so hard. From Italy, where she has travelled during the Second World War, she is forced to return to Birmingham and an unhappy marriage, her hopes and illusions shattered. But Rose will not be defeated and she, too, is determined to rise once again above the devastation of her life . . .
A remarkable, stirring novel, Birmingham Friends perfectly captures the complicated intimacy of female relationships. Anna has always been exceptionally close to her mother, Kate and as a child, was captivated by the stories her mother would tell of her childhood in Birmingham with her best friend, Olivia. Olivia and Kate seemed to have a magical friendship. But when Kate dies, she leaves her daughter a final story, one that this time tells the whole truth of her life with Olivia Kemp. As Anna reads, she is shocked to discover how little she really knew about the mother she felt so close to. With Kate's words of caution ringing in her head, she goes in search of the one woman who can answer urgent questions about her mother's life, and about her own . . . *Birmingham Friends was originally published as Kate and Olivia*
The Narrowboat Girl by Annie Murray is the story of a young woman's search for freedom and happiness. Young Maryann Nelson is devastated at the loss of her beloved father. But worse is to come when her mother, Flo, sees an opportunity to better herself and her family in a marriage to the local undertaker, Norman Griffin. Though on the surface a caring family man, Norman is not at all what he seems, as Maryann and her sister Sal soon discover. Unable to turn to their unsympathetic mother for support, the girls are left alone with their harrowing secret. But for Sal it is too much to bear . . . The chance of a new life opens up for Maryann when she befriends Joel Bartholomew. Aboard his narrowboat, the Esther Jane, she finds herself falling in love with life on the canal as she is swept away from Birmingham and all her worries. Until Joel's feelings for Maryann begin to change, awakening all the old nightmares that she had thought were long buried, and in panic and confusion she takes flight . . . The Narrowboat Girl is followed by sequel, Water Gypsies.
It is 1942, and after a childhood of suffering in Birmingham, Maryann Bartholomew has built a life of happiness and safety with her husband Joel and their children, working the canals on his narrowboat, the Esther Jane. But the back-breaking work and constant childbearing take their toll on Maryann, and the tragic loss of her old friend Nancy, followed by a further pregnancy lead her to a desperate act which nearly costs her her life. The walls of her security are broken down when Joel suffers an accident, and to keep the boats working, Maryann is forced to allow Sylvia and Dot, two wartime volunteers, into the privacy of their life. And when she discovers that someone keeps calling for her at Birmingham's Tyseley Wharf, the dark memories of her past begin to overwhelm her life. For that someone, who seems to be watching her every move, is becoming more dangerous that even she could imagine . . . Sequel to The Narrowboat Girl, Water Gypsies by Annie Murray is the gripping story of life on the Birmingham canals.
Shortlisted for Historical Romantic Novel in the Romantic Novelists Association Books Awards. Birmingham, almost a decade after the end of the Great War, and the women of Lilac Street have had more than their fair share of troubles . . . Rose Southgate is trapped in a loveless marriage. Shy and isolated, she makes the best of life, until she meets a man who changes everything. Jen Green is struggling to make ends meet, with a sick husband and five children to support. Aggie, her eldest daughter, is twelve years old and longs for excitement. But prying into the adult world shows her more than she had bargained for. And Phyllis Taylor is a widow who has managed to put a dark and traumatic past behind her. But the return of her daughter Dolly threatens all that . . . These women find strength in friendship, as they discover that the best way to solve their problems is to face them together, in Annie Murray's compelling The Women of Lilac Street.
Annie Murray's uplifting saga set during the Great War, Poppy Day is a moving story of love, remembrance and ultimate healing. Jessica Hart's happy childhood as the daughter of a country blacksmith is changed forever by the sudden death of her mother. Her grief-stricken father leaves her to cope with her loss alone. It is her manipulative new stepmother who tries to force her into marrying an older man. To bright, pretty Jess the idea of a loveless marriage is unthinkable and so she escapes to Birmingham to her aunt Olive - the last remaining connection to her mother. But it soon becomes apparent that in the shadows of Olive's family there are haunting secrets of which no one will speak. And Jess's security is threatened when she falls passionately in love. For handsome Ned Green is not only already married, but also about to become a father.
An emotional tale of resilience by Annie Murray, A Hopscotch Summer tells the story of a young girl and her struggle to keep her family afloat. In the impoverished area of Nechells in Birmingham in the 1930s, young Emma Brown's life is turned upside down when her mother, Cynthia, has another baby. Emma has always been a happy-go-lucky child, content as long as things were all right at home with her parents, and her brother and sister. But when the baby is born, Cynthia doesn't seem able to cope, and even her lifelong friend and neighbour, Dot, can't seem to get through to her. Cynthia's husband, Bob, tries to do his best, but when he feels he's losing the wife he loves so much he turns to drink. Poor Emma can't seem to keep up with looking after the household, and soon it seems that the only thing to do is for Cynthia to go and stay with her tyrannical older sister across the city. Life gets even tougher for Emma with her mother away, and she decides it's time to travel across Birmingham and bring her mother home. But the woman she discovers is very different to the mother she remembers . . . A Hopscotch Summer is followed by Solider Girl and All the Days of Our Lives, which follow the stories of Molly and Katie.
The Orphan of Angel Street is a moving story of fortitude and survival from Annie Murray, author of War Babies. Abandoned at birth, little Mercy Hanley shows a fierce determination few others can match. Her inner fire burns brightly, even in the harsh conditions of turn-of-the-century Birmingham. For behind Mercy's pale and haunting face, there is a mind of steel, as her harsh foster mother, Mrs Gaskin, soon discovers. Beatings, threats and poverty cannot halt Mercy's efforts to improve herself, or to create a new life for Susan, Mrs Gaskin's crippled daughter. Even in the worst times, it is as if someone is watching over Mercy, and willing her to succeed. Through the dark shadow of world war, Mercy continues her fight for survival. She will first earn her freedom and security. Then at long last she can give her love . . .
Pretty seventeen-year-old Greta has never known a stable family life. With no father, and loathing her mother Ruby's latest boyfriend, Greta finds life hard at home and is happiest at work with her friends at the Cadbury factory in Birmingham where she is popular with the boys. Life takes a turn for the worse when her missing vixen of a sister Marleen turns up during the freezing winter of 1962. Greta soon decides that her only way out is marriage, but all too soon she discovers that life with her old class mate Trevor is not a ticket to freedom and happiness. She finds herself on the streets, pregnant and homeless . . . She is taken in by her mother's old friends, Edie and Anatoli Gruschov. In Anatoli, Greta finds the father she has never had. Kindly Edie loves to mother people and is desperately missing her son David and his family who have settled in Israel. But the love and security of this haven is soon shattered by appalling tragedy, which affects all the chocolate girls and their children and changes life forever . . . Continuing the saga begun in Annie Murray's Chocolate Girls, and set in 1960s Birmingham, The Bells of Bournville Green is a story of families whose lives are entwined, of belonging and loss . . . and of a young woman's search for transforming love.
In Annie Murray's bestselling Chocolate Girls, three very different women work together at Cadbury's Bournville factory, and their lives become entwined by war and work - and a child called David. Edie marries young to escape her unhappy family home. Widowed at nineteen and, after losing her child from the marriage, she faces the war grieving and lonely. Then one night during the Blitz, an infant mysteriously abandoned during the bombing is handed into her care . . . Ruby, meanwhile, doesn't want to be left behind in the wedding stakes and settles for marriage with Frank. Finally there's Janet, kind-hearted and susceptible to male charm, who is hurt desperately by an affair with a married man. David, the child who steals Edie's heart as she brings him up through a time none of them will ever forget, is the love of all their lives. And when David is old enough to wonder who he really is, he leads Edie through struggle and heartache to a life and love she would never have dreamed of . . . Chocolate Girls is followed by the captivating sequel, The Bells of Bournville Green.
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