Today I have an exciting extract for you from Elaine Everest’s new book The Patchwork Girls. I love reading Elaine’s books and this sounds like the perfect read during Christmas!
I hope you enjoy this extract. The Patchwork Girls by Elaine Everest is out now, published by Pan Macmillan in paperback original, priced £7.99.
1939. After the sudden and tragic loss of her husband, Helen is returning home to her mother’s house in Biggin Hill, Kent – the one place she vowed she’d never go back to again.
Alone and not knowing where to turn, Helen finds herself joining the local women’s sewing circle despite being hopeless with a needle and thread. These resourceful women can not only make do and mend clothes, quilts and woolly hats, but their friendship mends something deeper in Helen too. Lizzie is a natural leader, always ready to lend a helping hand or a listening ear. Effie has uprooted her life from London to keep her two little girls away from the bombing raids, and the sewing circle is a welcome distraction from worries about how to keep a roof over their heads and about her husband too, now serving in active duty overseas.
When the reason for Helen’s husband’s death comes to light, her world is turned upside down yet again. The investigating officer on the case, Richard, will leave no stone unturned, but it’s not long before his interest in Helen goes beyond the professional. As she pieces together old fabrics into a beautiful quilt, will Helen patch up the rifts in her own life?
Helen wasn’t sure what to make of Tish. In the few minutes she’d known her, she’d got the impression that the vicar’s wife was someone who called a spade a spade. ‘I’m not sure how much use I’ll be. It would take me so long to knit a pair of socks, the war would be over by the time I’d cast off. As for my sewing skills – well, I can just about manage to turn up a hem on a frock and replace a loose button. However, I look forward to coming to the meetings, if only to get out of the house,’ she smiled.
‘I’ve heard about you, of course; you’re the MP’s widow. It must have been a terrible shock to you to lose your husband like that,’ Tish said, patting her hand. ‘I’m pleased you’ve come back to live with your mother. If we haven’t got family at times like this, what do we have?’
Helen only smiled, unable to think of a reply. There was a glint in Tish’s eye that might have been irony, and it made her wonder if the woman might have crossed paths with Hillary at some point.
‘And don’t worry about your sewing skills today. This is a “let’s get to know each other” meeting – and we have a special guest.’
‘That does sound interesting,’ Helen said, wondering what she’d let herself in for.
‘Oh, yes. Our speaker is Elizabeth Donnington, and she’s going to tell us all about her quilts.’
Helen groaned inwardly. As far as she was concerned, a quilt was something to hide under when she was feeling miserable, and she had done a lot of that lately. She wished she was at home right now, snuggled in with a good book and a cup of cocoa. Thoughts of home reminded her that Inspector Gladstone would be there to interview her later, so at least she had an excuse to hurry away if things became too boring here. ‘Wonderful. Now, is there anything I can do to help?’
Tish looked at her watch. ‘Good grief, the hordes will be descending on us within ten minutes and the seats haven’t been put out. Would you be a dear . . . ? I’ll have a quick word with Effie about using the right cups and saucers.’
Helen was only too happy to have something to do, and she set to pulling stacks of metal chairs from behind a curtain next to the stage at one end of the hall. ‘Er – Tish, will your speaker be up on the stage?’ she called out.
‘Yes; just two chairs behind the small table, please. She’s going to work near the audience so we can have a close look at her quilts.’
Helen set up a couple of wooden trestle tables before laying out three rows of chairs.
‘That looks splendid. I can see you’re going to be a great asset to the group,’ Tish remarked as she shook out a large white sheet to cover the tables. ‘Perfect,’ she announced, stepping back to check it was straight.
Portobello Book Blog will be posting an extract that continues from above on her blog tomorrow, make sure you go check it out too!
If you want to know what others are saying about The Patchwork Girls, do check out all these bloggers please.
About the author:
Elaine Everest is the author of bestselling novels The Woolworths Girls, The Butlins Girls, Christmas at Woolworthsand The Teashop Girls. She was born and raised in North-West Kent, where many of her bestselling historical sagas are set. She grew up listening to tales of the war years in her hometown of Erith, which has inspired her own stories.
Elaine has been a freelance writer for 25 years and has written over 100 short stories and serials for the women’s magazine market. She is also the author of a number of popular non-fiction books for dog owners.
When she isn’t writing, Elaine runs The Write Place creative writing school in Hextable, Kent. She now lives in Swanley with her husband, Michael and their Polish Lowland Sheepdog, Henry.