Diney Costeloe is the bestselling author of THE THROWAWAY CHILDREN, THE RUNAWAY FAMILY, THE LOST SOLDIER, THE SISTERS OF ST CROIX and THE GIRL WITH NO NAME. She divides her time between Somerset and West Cork.
Thank you to Head of Zeus for giving me the chance to have a guest post and to have a Q&A – I am hosting the amazing Diney Costeloe and her new novel, ‘The Married Girls’.
Wynsdown, 1949. In the small Somerset village of Wynsdown, Charlotte Shepherd is happily married to farmer Billy. She arrived from Germany on the Kindertransport as a child during the war and now feels settled in her adopted home.
Meanwhile, the squire’s fighter pilot son, Felix, has returned to the village with a fiancée in tow. Daphne is beautiful, charming… and harbouring secrets. After meeting during the war, Felix knows some of Daphne’s past, but she has worked hard to conceal that which could unravel her carefully built life.
For Charlotte, too, a dangerous past is coming back in the shape of fellow refugee, bad boy Harry Black. Forever bound by their childhoods, Charlotte will always care for him, but Harry’s return disrupts the village quiet and it’s not long before gossip spreads.
The war may have ended, but for these girls, trouble is only just beginning.
What happened to Charlotte?
When I had finished The Girl With No Name, the war was over. Peace had broken out! But the lives of the people who had lived through it all, whether in the services or as civilians, had been dramatically changed. They had seen things that no one should be asked to see, they had done things that they would have considered inconceivable before the war. They had lived through the constant bombing of the Blitz, lived with the fear of a German invasion and lost loved ones at home and abroad. Families who had been separated for a long time, sometimes years, were reunited and discovered that they were none of them the same people they’d been before. Men came home to wives who’d grown used to a new independence. Wives found that the husbands who returned were not the same men as the ones who had been called up in 1939. Everyone had to make adjustments, learn to know each other again. Sometimes it worked and sometimes it didn’t. This was happening wherever you lived and the small community of Wynsdown was no exception.
Wynsdown is where Charlotte and Billy, now married live, and I wanted to know how they and their neighbours were all getting on now that there was no further danger from the skies. The danger was over, but the privations were not. There were shortages of everything and rationing was as rigid as ever. Everyone had to continue to make do and mend.
The Married Girls tells of the changes they faced and how they coped with them.
Felix has to come to terms with leaving the RAF; Daphne is determined not to revert to the life she had before the war; Charlotte is starting married life with the man she loves in a place she feels safe; bad boy Harry risks coming back to London with a new name and finds a very different place from the one he escaped and from Sydney, where he’s been living ever since.
Life goes on. In some cases it is a life that has changed out of all recognition, in others it appears to settle back to something like pre-war normality, but the war has brought about fundamental changes in behaviour, morals and attitude. There are undercurrents beneath the apparent smooth and steady flow of life, threatening to bring turmoil and discord to those who are moving on with their lives, married, in post-war England.
Question and Answer
- How did you come up with the idea to write Girl with No Name ?
I had written a book, The Runaway Family, about a Jewish family trying to survive the persecution of the Nazis in Germany and Austria in 1938. Some of the children arrive in London on one of the Kindertransport trains. That book was complete and stand alone, but it made me wonder how such children would cope with being thrown into a strange place, where they knew no one, couldn’t speak the language and they had to cope with desperate homesickness. The Girl With No Name was the result of my thoughts.
- Who is your favourite character in The Married Girls and why?
This is a difficult question to answer. There are several that I’m fond of, not necessarily the main characters. The four that come to mind first are, Billy, the Vicar, Dan and Dieter. They’re all quite different, but I always enjoyed writing about them.
- What type of books do you have hidden on your shelves?
All sorts of things, often going back to my childhood and kept for my grandchildren. For instance, all the Narnia books. Winne the Pooh, Complete Jane Austen, Georgette Heyer for re-reading, Cynthia Harrod Eagles…particularly her ‘Slider’ series of detective novels and her WWI series as yet unfinished. (I’m waiting for the next one!) I do like detective fiction series such as Susan Hill’s Simon Serrailler, Donna Leon’s Brunetti series, set in Venice, Peter May’s Scottish Lewis Trilogy and Peter James’s Roy Grace series set in Brighton. With series like these, you go back and meet up with old friends whose lives have been going on while you haven’t been reading about them! ….and that’s only the fiction! Plenty of research books too.
- What advice would you give to potential authors?
The only way to write a book is to get on and do it. When you come to the end of a writing session, don’t finish at the end of a chapter, leaving yourself with a blank page to start with next time. Even if you only write one paragraph…one sentence… “He left the house slamming the door behind him….” you’re already moving on to the next part. If you’re still really stuck when you next sit down to write, re-read and edit what you wrote last time and then go straight on, that usually works. People ask if you have to wait for inspiration, answer, NO. You’d never put pen to paper at all.