The Street of Broken Dreams by Tania Crosse
Publication Date: 19th February 2019
A poignant story which will tear at your heart strings. Perfect for the fans of Elaine Everest and Daisy Styles.
Summer 1945. The nation rejoices as the Second World War comes to an end but Banbury Street matriarch, Eva Parker, foresees trouble ahead. Whilst her daughter, Mildred, awaits the return of her fiancé from overseas duty, doubts begin to seep into her mind about how little she knows of the man she has promised to marry. Or are her affections being drawn elsewhere?
Meanwhile, new neighbour, dancer Cissie Cresswell, hides a terrible secret. The end of the conflict will bring her no release from the horrific night that destroyed her life. Can she ever find her way back? Under Eva’s stalwart care, can the two young women unite to face the doubt and uncertainty of the future?
About The Author
Delaying her childhood dream of writing historical novels until her family had grown up, Tania eventually completed a series of published stories based on her beloved Dartmoor. She is now setting her future sagas in London and the south east.
STREET OF BROKEN DREAMS – INSPIRATION BLOG
Anyone who has read the acknowledgements to ‘The Candle Factory Girl’ will know that I myself lived in Banbury Street as a small child. Well, ‘The Street of Broken Dreams’ is based there, too. Much of the inspiration for both books developed from my distant memories, but this latest novel is set much closer to the period when I was resident there, so I suppose I feel an even greater personal connection to this new story.
We lived at Number Three, the Braithwaite’s house in ‘The Candle Factory Girl’, but in this book, the home of widowed Ellen Hayes and little Lily. Miss Chalfont, a school teacher and caretaker for the brewery who own the property, is living in the semi-basement. In reality, at the end of the war, my mother rented the two upper floors ready for when my father came home from serving in the Far East, and before my brother and I came along. Mrs Lloyd was the kindly, elderly widow who occupied the lower rooms.
Another major connection with my own memories is Battersea Park, which was as much part of our lives as it is of the characters in both of these stories. I wasn’t born when the Pleasure Gardens were created for the 1951 Festival of Britain. However, like the London Eye, they remained for many a long year, and I remember them well. I particularly loved the Tree Walk and the Guinness Clock. I couldn’t write about the gardens in ‘The Candle Factory Girl’ because it’s set in the 1930s, but they provided a fitting backdrop for the epilogue in ‘The Street of Broken Dreams’ as a symbol of hope for the future after so much suffering.
A strong draw for writing a sequel to ‘The Candle Factory Girl’ was Eva Parker. I loved her character so much that I really wanted to explore her more deeply. Matriarch of the street, nosey, but with a heart as big as the ocean, she’s also possessed of the greatest integrity and can keep a secret for years. Her daughter, Mildred, a child in the previous book but now grown up, is a chip off the old block, her youth tested beyond endurance.
Her fiancé’s story was inspired by the wartime experiences of my father who served in submarines in the Far East. Like many servicemen, Dad never spoke much about the war. I do remember him, though, talking about being on guard duty on a small island somewhere in Japanese waters, back pressed against a tree. Fortunately, unlike Gary, he never suffered any injury, though he did endure hours of depth charging which must have been horrendous, and he nearly died from dysentry towards the end of the war.
My mother, however, was a great raconteur and regaled us with tales of her war. As a nurse in London, she was walking home to her digs late one night after her shift, when a special constable approached her as she passed a bomb site. He suggested that she might enjoy some ‘fun’ among the rubble. She managed to talk her way out of the situation, thank goodness, but it was her story that triggered the idea for the horrific event that shatters Cissie’s life.
The fact that I make Cissie a dancer walking home after a performance comes from one of my own life-long interests. As a ballet student in my youth and having danced myself as a soloist on stage at Wimbledon Theatre, just as Cissie does, it was inevitable that one day I would write a novel in which the main character is a dancer. Not that I was ever anything like as good as Cissie, but I absolutely share her passion, and it was wonderful to be able to give her all the talent I yearned for but never had.
But that is one of the joys of being a writer. While drawing inspiration from your own experiences of life, you can make things happen that didn’t occur in reality, and weave them into a story that hopefully will delight and entertain your readers. So I do hope that you will feel inspired to read ‘The Street of Broken Dreams’ and enjoy sharing Cissie, Mildred and Eva’s turbulent journey.