Wedding Bells for Woolworth is the latest feel-good novel in former Woolies girl Elaine Everest’s bestselling Woolworths Girls series. It sees the return of her well-loved characters in another heartfelt and gripping story.
July 1947. Britain is still gripped by rationing, even as the excitement of Princess Elizabeth’s engagement sweeps the nation… In the Woolworths’ canteen, Freda is still dreaming of meeting her own Prince Charming. So far she’s been unlucky in love. When she has an accident on her motorbike, knocking a cyclist off his bicycle, it seems bad luck is still following her around. Anthony is not only a fellow Woolworths employee but was an Olympic hopeful. Will his injured leg heal in time for him to compete? Can he ever forgive Freda? Sarah’s idyllic family life is under threat with worries about her husband, Alan. Does he still love her?The friends must rally round to face some of the toughest challenges of their lives together. And although they experience loss, hardship and shocks along the way, love is on the horizon for the Woolworths girls.
Why did you want to write Wedding Bells for Woolworths? (As another in a series do the reasons behind each book change or is there an ongoing one?)
My reason for writing this book is because so many people asked what had happened to the characters since the end of the war. Originally The Woolworths Girls was to be a stand-alone book, but readers took the girls to their hearts and the books just kept coming. Very few books run beyond a series of three, so I’m honoured to be able to keep revisiting Woolies and the girls. When the suggestion for another book was mooted, I immediately thought of Princess Elizabeth and her wedding in 1947, the Austerity Olympics in 1948 and of course what had happened the girls since 1945. Like many people life is not always straight forward in love, work and life in general. I soon had a notebook full of ideas.
Is there a character you’ve written/read that is especially close to you?
In the Woolworths books it would have to be Ruby. Readers love her and she reminds me of so many of my much-missed relatives who came from the area where the books are set. Ruby has been so much on my mind that I started to wonder about her early years and suggested to my publisher that we give Ruby her own book. I’ve just handed it into my editor and crossing my fingers that she likes it. Publication will be March 2021 in time for Mother’s Day.
When you were growing what were the books that impacting you and do they still influence you now?
I loved adventures and was a bit of a tomboy. Being an avid reader of Enid Blyton’s adventure stories, I always had my nose in a book. Oh, to sleep out under the stars and catch baddies. I was never keen on ginger beer though! At a slightly older age I wanted to be Jo from Little Women and be a writer just as she was. At quite a young age I started to read Dick Francis novels borrowed from my Dad – crime and the sport of Kings appealed to me ad still does.
Can you tell us something about yourself that not many people know?
I own a string of racehorses! Before you think I earn millions from my books I have to explain that along with my husband we buy shares in racehorses and own about one three thousandth in each horse! At the moment between us we have fourteen. What I like most is following the training and the welfare of these beautiful animals. We are sent videos of the horses with regular updates and occasionally watch them race if they attend a race in the south of the country. I prefer watching races over the flat. Yes, I have a dabble, just as my dad did but I’m very wary of it becoming a habit. I’m not likely to lose my shirt at the races!
What fictional meal do you wish you could cook and who would you share it with?
I would love to visit Ruby and cook a delicious lamb stew with fluffy dumplings followed by steamed suet pudding with golden syrup and custard in her kitchen. Actually, I have cooked in Ruby’s kitchen as her house (13 Alexandra Road) was my home for twenty years. I miss the house so much. Perhaps one day there will be a blue plaque on the house – that would be fun!
Any advice on how to brighten your day?
At the moment it would be a big pot of tea, a few slices of fruit cake and a good book. I could forget about the world and disappear for a while. At the moment I have three books I’m wanting to read written by, Milly Johnson, Peter James and Nicola May. There again I may revisit Dick Francis…
Tea or coffee?
I do enjoy a good cup of coffee, but usually it is tea for me – hot strong builders tea with a dash of whole milk and one sweetener. Something to dunk a biscuit in!
Finally, what is the question you wish people would ask and never do?
Gosh! I think it would have to be ‘why did you wait so long for your first full length saga to be published?’
My answer would be that saga writers tend to be older as they have lived life and can write about it with passion and a great deal of emotion. But writing has been my full-time career since 1997 as I’ve written many different forms of fiction, non-fiction and journalism.
Elaine Everest is from North West Kent and she grew up listening to stories of the war years in her home town of Erith, which features in her bestselling Woolworths Girls series. A former journalist, and author of nonfiction books for dog owners, Elaine has written over sixty short stories for the women’s magazine market. When she isn’t writing, Elaine runs The Write Place creative writing school in Hextable, Kent. She lives with her husband, Michael and sheepdog Henry. You can find out more about Elaine on Twitter @ElaineEverest or Facebook /elaine.everest