Orphan of Angel Street
Abandoned at birth, little Mercy Hanley shows a fierce determination few others can match. Her inner fire burns brightly, even in the harsh conditions of turn of the century Birmingham. For behind Mercy's pale and haunting face, there is a mind of steel, as her harsh foster mother; Mrs Gaskin, soon discovers. Beatings, threats and poverty cannot halt Mercy's efforts to improve herself, or to create a new life for Susan, Mrs Gaskin's crippled daughter. Even in the worst times, it is as if someone is watching over Mercy. Willing her to succeed... Through the dark shadow of world war, Mercy continues her fight for survival. She will first earn her freedom and security. Then at long last she can give her love...The Narrowboat Girl
An absorbing tale of adventure and true love Young Maryann Nelson is devastated at the loss of her beloved father. But worse is to come when her mother, Flo, sees an opportunity to better herself and her family in a marriage to the local undertaker, Norman Griffin. Though on the surface a caring family man, Norman is not at all what he seems, as Maryann and her sister Sal soon discover.Unable to turn to their unsympathetic mother for support, the girls are left alone with their harrowing secret. But for Sal it is too much to bear . . . The chance of a new life opens up for Maryann when she befriends Joel Bartholomew. Aboard his narrowboat, the Esther Jane, she finds herself falling in love with life on the canal as she is swept away from Birmingham and all her worries. Until Joel's feelings for Maryann begin to change, awakening all the old nightmares that she had thought were long buried, and in panic and confusion she takes flight . . .Miss Purdy's Class
In the New Year of 1936, Gwen Purdy, aged 21, leaves her home to become a schoolteacher in a poor area of Birmingham. Her parents are horrified, but she has the support of her fiance, a recently ordained clergyman. Her early weeks in Birmingham are an eye-opener: at the school she faces a class of 52 children, some of whose homes are among Birmingham's very poorest. One of the teachers, the elderly Miss Drysdale, proves an inspiration, and Gwen begins to understand the appalling hardships endured by the children as she is drawn into their lives. Little Lucy Fernandez is a 'cripple' and an epileptic. Through her, Gwen meets Daniel Fernandez, the elder brother in a fatherless household. The family has roots in a Wales' small Spanish community, and Daniel is a young man as fierce and passionate in his emotions as in his social concerns. Gwen falls in love, and is quickly engaged in his battle to win rights for the working classes. As the Brigades are mobilized to fight the Spanish Civil War, Gwen has to face the fact that Daniel has secrets in his past which she would rather not face up to...Chocolate Girls
Three very different women work together at Cadbury's Bournville factory, and their lives become entwined by war and work - and a child called David. Edie, the main character, marries young to escape her unhappy family home. Widowed at 19 and, after losing her child from the marriage, she faces the war grieving and lonely. Then one night during the Blitz, an infant mysteriously abandoned during the bombing is handed into her care...Ruby, meanwhile, doesn't want to be left behind in the wedding stakes and settles for marriage with Frank. Finally there's Janet, kind-hearted and susceptible to male charm, who is hurt desperately by an affair with a married man. David, the child who steals Edie's heart as she brings him up through a time none of them will ever forget, is the love of all their lives. And when David is old enough to wonder who he really is, he leads Edie through struggle and heartache to a life and love she would never have dreamed of...A Hopscotch Summer
Emma Brown is a happy-go-lucky child, content to work hard at school, and to play hopscotch with her friends on the pavement outside her house in the run-down Nechells area of Birmingham. As long as everything is alright at home with her Ma and Pa, her little sister Joyce and brother Sid, then life is good. But after Em’s mother Cynthia has her baby she just doesn’t seem to be able to cope. Her life-long friend and neighbour Dot helps as much as she can, but she has children of her own, and no man to hand; Cynthia’s husband Bob, too, does his best, but begins to feel that he’s losing the wife he has loved so much; and little Em just can’t find enough hours in the day to do all the washing and cleaning. Soon, it seems, the only thing is for Cynthia to go and stay across the city with her tyrannical older sister. With Cynthia away, life only gets harder for Em. Her best friend Kate ostracizes her, leaving only poor, stinky Molly Fox at her side, and when the Board Man comes to call, wanting to know why she’s not at school, things are really bad. When Bob stays out later and later in the evenings, always the worse for wear, and spending too much time with a local very merry widow, Em decides to travel across Birmingham to fetch her mother home, but the mother she discovers is a far cry from the proud, upright and loving figure she has known so well . . Family Women
1950 - "Seven year old Carol Martin lies encased in an iron lung, struck down by the killer disease, polio. Distraught at her side, her mother, Violet, wonders if this is her punishment - for Carol is the love child who should not have been born...." "Family of Women" is the story of three generations of women: Bessie: scarred by a childhood of poverty in the slums of Victorian Birmingham and left a young widow with four children, is a hard, bullying woman who will go to disturbing lengths to keep her family under her thumb. Violet: one of Bessie's four children, marries young to escape, into the arms of a man whose life will be broken by war, Linda: grows up on a large housing estate in the 1950s with older sister Joyce and her beloved young sister Carol. Intelligent and energetic, she craves education and something more than the life she sees around her. Torn from her longed for place at the grammar school, she gives up hoping for anything better. It takes a tragic love affair to make her question the limitations of her life and the secrets which haunt her family. Spanning more than half of the last century, "Family of Women" is a story of one family - and of the joys, struggles and changes in women's lives.Water Gypsies
It is 1942, and after a childhood of suffering in Birmingham, Maryann Bartholomew has built a life of happiness and safety with her husband Joel and their children, working the canals on his narrowboat, the Esther Jane. But the back-breaking work and constant childbearing take their toll on Maryann, and the tragic loss of her old friend Nancy, followed by a further pregnancy lead her to a desperate act which nearly costs her her life. The walls of her security are broken down when Joel suffers an accident, and to keep the boats working, Maryann is forced to allow Sylvia and Dot, two wartime volunteers, into the privacy of their life. And when she discovers that someone keeps calling for her at Birmingham's Tyseley Wharf, the dark memories of her past begin to overwhelm her life. For that someone, who seems to be watching her every move, is becoming more dangerous that even she could imagine...