Today we're sharing a guest post by Alix Rickloff, author of Secrets of Nanreath Hall. Her new novel The Way to London is on sale in paperback today, and it's perfect for any book clubs who love historical fiction.
About the Book:
The Way to London is a gripping, beautifully written historical fiction novel set during World War II—the unforgettable story of a young woman who must leave Singapore and forge a new life in England.
On the eve of Pearl Harbor, impetuous and overindulged, Lucy Stanhope, the granddaughter of an earl, is living a life of pampered luxury in Singapore until one reckless act will change her life forever.
Exiled to England to stay with an aunt she barely remembers, Lucy never dreamed that she would be one of the last people to escape Singapore before war engulfs the entire island, and that her parents would disappear in the devastating aftermath. Now grief stricken and all alone, she must cope with the realities of a grim, battle-weary England.
Then she meets Bill, a young evacuee sent to the country to escape the Blitz, and in a moment of weakness, Lucy agrees to help him find his mother in London. The unlikely runaways take off on a seemingly simple journey across the country, but her world becomes even more complicated when she is reunited with an invalided soldier she knew in Singapore.
Now Lucy will be forced to finally confront the choices she has made if she ever hopes to have the future she yearns for.
From the Author:
WWII was declared on September 1st 1939 and by the end of that month over 800,000 London school children had been evacuated to the countryside ahead of the expected German bombardment. While many were welcomed by host families into comfortable homes, for others it was a time of upheaval, sadness, and horrible homesickness.
Japan invaded the Malay Peninsula on December 8th 1941 and by February 15th 1942 when British forces surrendered, thousands of men, women, and children had fled, many leaving loved ones behind to an uncertain fate as prisoners of war.
Whereas the evacuation of London’s children had been planned for years and was safely carried out while Germany was busy solidifying its grip on the continent, the flight from Singapore was chaotic and fraught with peril from Japanese bombers and submarines. Of those who departed in the frantic final days, barely one-in-four made it out unscathed.
I have always been drawn to stories of redemption and belonging and the definition and expectation of family. These are themes I return to again and again in my writing. What better avenue to explore them than a story about two evacuees who have lost everyone and feel as if they belong nowhere?
Lucy Stanhope’s character took shape first. She’d been referred to previously in SECRETS OF NANREATH HALL as the pampered, headstrong Yankee cousin of the main character who is living a life of luxury in the Far East. But as I dug deeper into the wartime events of late 1941 on the Malay Peninsula and how they affected the Europeans living there at the time, I knew immediately that Lucy would be one of the thousands who were sent home to a country not their own and relatives they barely knew.
Bill Smedley revealed himself to me more slowly, his personality based loosely on my own somewhat maddening experiences with a rebellious twelve-year old boy (but that’s a tale for another day). A city boy who’s not been farther from home than Whitechapel, Bill finds himself uprooted to the wilds of the Cornish countryside where he’s handed over to indifferent people who regard him as nothing more than a nuisance and a source of a few extra shillings a week.
So what happens when the spoiled little rich girl from Singapore and the street-smart bad boy from London’s East End join forces in search of a home and a happy-ever-after? How does Lucy change as she comes to realize that war isn’t always defined by the grand heroic battles fought by soldiers but in the everyday sacrifices and inconveniences endured by civilians?
In asking those two simple questions, the story unfolded to encompass the sometimes onerous bonds of family and duty, the desire for human connection, and the definition of home. And maybe, most of all, how the upheaval of war and the struggle to survive can reveal the capacity of the human heart to hope for a better future.