A Leighton Buzzard author is transporting readers back to World War One, with a daring tale of romance, zeppelin attacks, and white feathers.
Griselda Gifford is introducing readers to her 34th published book entitled ‘Death of a Dove’, which sees main character Bea in a race against time to save her friend from the military police.
Bea, aged 15, lives in the country and is at first untouched by the war, as her ambition to become an actress fills her dreams.
However, reality jolts her when a spiteful girl sends white feathers (meaning cowardice) to her brother, to her friend Tod, and to Ronnie, with whom she is beginning to love.
Griselda, who is best known for writing children’s fiction books, said: “I wanted a bit of romance in the story and Bea is 15, so I thought it would be quite interesting to get away from young children’s fiction, and write for teenagers and adults.
“I’d written a book about World War Two called ‘House of Spies’, but I was also quite interested in World War One, because I had heard stories from my mother and her sister. I had to do a lot of research for the book - for instance, new identity cards were coming out at that time.”
When Ronnie comes home with shell shock, it’s only a matter of time before he is called back to fight, so he and Bea embark on a daring escape to London, which involves trying to disguise Ronnie as a woman, joining the Gaiety Theatre - and also braving a zeppelin attack.
Revealing her inspirations for the characters, Griselda said: “Bea’s blind organist father is based on my grandfather, David Denton, who was the organist at Newport Pagnell church, St Peter & St Paul, and also gave music lessons. Bea herself is a great swimmer, like my mother, who used to win swimming races on the Ouse at Bedford.
“My mother, Effie, known as Jill, and her sister, Elsa, also used to perform in a local village hall. Elsa used to sing ‘Burlington Bertie’.”
Death of a Dove ISBN 9780995588325 can be ordered from Waterstones, MK Holts or Askews or from Griselda - ring 01525374479.
Griselda concluded: “Will Ronnie get discovered and go to prison? And does Bea achieve her longing to sing and dance on the stage? Read my book and find out!”