Title: The Deptford Girls
Author: Patricia A McBride
Genre: Historical Fiction
Thank you to Rachel’s Random Resources and Patricia A McBride for the opportunity to take part in The Deptford Girls Blog Tour!
The Excerpt …
This is the opening of the book. It is set in an army depot. Some of the girls are soldiers, and other civilians working for the army.
‘No, David Niven’s best. Such a gentleman and so attractive!’
‘Rubbish, give me James Stewart any day. He’s my ideal husband!’
‘Girls! Girls!’ Mr Lynch said, his cheeks turning pink, ‘we’ve too much work to do to… I must insist…’
‘What about Clark Gable? He’s a looker for sure!’
‘Girls! We must…’
‘What about Laurence Olivier? He’s a proper gent!’
I’d just walked into the room, Bronwyn behind me, and was met with a ding-dong about film stars. As usual, Mr Lynch, our supervisor, was useless at taking control.
‘Shut up, you lot!’ I shouted, just as Bronwyn was saying, ‘Kirk Douglas is so lush!’ I looked at her and put my finger to my lips.
They turned to look at me, and the silence was deafening. Marion was fetching as usual with a bright red lipstick and eyebrows coloured with a burnt matchstick. She was a civilian working for the Depot. Edith, who liked James Stewart, was in ATS uniform. Her husband Sidney was away at war and she longed for the day he came home.
I pulled Bronwyn towards me, ‘Never mind film stars. I’d like you all to meet my friend Bronwyn, from Welsh Wales…’
‘But I speaks English.’ she said, interrupting me with her lovely Welsh accent.
‘Bronwyn’s my flat mate and she’s been a dispatch rider til she broke her leg, and now she wants a sitting-down job,’ I grinned, ‘she’s not so bad once you get to know her!’
They came round from their desks, shaking hands or hugging Bronwyn. Mr Lynch stood back until they’d finished.
‘Mr McDonald warned me you were coming. I’m very glad to see you. We’re snowed under with work. And tomorrow…’ he paused for effect, ‘we have another typist starting, Ruth Demsky. She’s been at home bringing up a family for a long time, but is coming to help the war effort. She’s a civilian.’
‘Is this desk for me?’ Bronwyn asked, pointing to one near me.
‘There’s only two to choose from and you’re first here, so help yourself. Lily will show you round the offices and warehouse area, then I’ll explain the work.’
It was a warm day for May, and Bronwyn and I were glad of an excuse to get outside. The sun was shining and cotton wool clouds scudded across the sky. By contrast, the warehouse area was uninviting. A huge triangular area, with three massive warehouses, it was bordered on one side by a railway line; a road on another; and the backs of terraced houses on the third. A tall fence hid the houses from sight, although it was there to deter people from pilfering the stock we kept. Weeds crept along the bottom like a fallen curtain.
To my surprise, there were two armed soldiers outside the far warehouse. I’d never seen that before. ‘Come on, Bron, let’s see what they’re up to.’
I went over to the soldiers and they immediately tensed – guns at the ready. ‘Halt!’ one of them cried, trying to be heard over the background noise.
‘My name’s I’m Private Baker, and I work here. I often have to check stock in the warehouse. What’s going on? I’ve never seen soldiers here before like this.’
‘Better speak to your boss about it.’ That was the most I got out of either of them.
Bronwyn looked at me, ‘What’s up, girl? You look bothered.’
I smiled, ‘Nothing to worry about. I’ll speak to Mr McDonald when we go back and find out what it’s all about. Come on, I’ll finish showing you around.’
A man with a very wide broom was sweeping between the lorries and buildings. He sang as he worked, although his words were lost because of the background noise. The air hung with the smell of petrol and the smoke from the trains.
‘You bin looking at that warehouse?’ the man sweeping asked, leaning on his broom, ‘Strange that.’
‘What’s with all the security?’ I asked.
‘We’re gonna be stocking guns and things is what I heard. Don’t like the sound of it. I’d sooner stick to bully beef and boots meself.’
‘So that’s it,’ I said as we walked away, ‘guns. Blimey! Still, I suppose we are an Army Depot, so it’s not surprising.’
I took her to another of the warehouses. Organised rows of shelves stocked with big, labelled boxes were against the walls and in the middle. ‘See that little hut thing in the corner up the stairs?’ I said, pointing, ‘that’s their office. One for each warehouse. Go there if you need to check anything, although usually you’ll find the warehouse supervisor down here working.’
Lorries arrived, laden with goods, and then left again. Sometimes they loaded up with stock from the warehouses and took them to army camps, other times they went back empty to their factories to collect another load. There was a lot of clattering and banging and men shouting instructions to each other.
‘I gotta say, I’m going to be spoilt for choice of men here,’ Bronwyn said as someone wolf-whistled at us.
I raised an eyebrow, ‘You like men with money to spend. You won’t find that here; they don’t get paid enough.’
‘Pity,’ she looked around, ‘so will I have to come out here often then?’
‘Sometimes you might need to check the figures you’re typing to see if there’s been an error. Mostly you’ll be in the office. Come on, I’ll show you around inside.’
We were almost at the door when the big boss, Mr McDonald, came out with a man I hadn’t seen before. He was tall, well built, and glossy enough to be a film star. Unlike most people who came to the yard, he was wearing a suit and tie and his shoes were so shiny he could have used them for mirrors. He looked like he’d have enough money for Bronwyn to be interested in him.
About the Book
A country at war. Friends in trouble. A fascist traitor. Stepping up can only lead Lily to danger.
Rescuing friends or spotting spies; Private Lily Baker always gets involved.
While London burns she looks out for workmates and girlfriends but also uncovers a web of deception at the Depot where she works.
When the ruthless suspect knows she’s closing in, she must act fast to unmask the traitor and save her friends, herself, and the brave soldiers overseas whose lives are at risk.
The Deptford Girls is the fourth in the Lily Baker wartime series. This heart-wrenching story features courage, friendship, betrayal, compelling characters, and a captivating plot.
If you like vivid stories that take you right into the world of the characters, you’ll love The Deptford Girls. Cuddle up with a cuppa and enjoy this exciting, warm-hearted read.
About the Author
Patricia lives in Cambridge, England with her husband Rick. She first wrote non-fiction, mainly self-help books, but became inspired to try her hand at fiction. In addition to writing she volunteers for a local museum and Addenbrookes Hospital.
Don’t forget to check out the other amazing Bloggers who are covering this publication! 🙂
Happy Reading, x