The Foyles Bookshop Girls at War by Elaine Roberts
Published: 15th January 2019
Swapping books for the bomb factory takes courage – and could be dangerous.
Working at the Foyles bookshop was Molly Cooper’s dream job. But with the country at war she’s determined to do her bit. So Molly gathers her courage, and sets off for the East End and her first day working at Silvertown munitions factory…
It’s hard manual labour, and Molly must face the trials and tribulations of being the ‘new girl’ at the munitions factory, as well as the relentless physical work.
The happy-ever-afters Molly read about in the pages of her beloved books have been lost to the war. And yet the munitions girls unite through their sense of duty and friendships that blossom in the most unlikely of settings…
Perfect for fans of Elaine Everest, Daisy Styles and Rosie Hendry.
Look out for the next in the Elaine Roberts’ heartwarming series The Foyles Girls series, Christmas at the Foyles Bookshop, coming soon!
About The Author
Elaine Roberts had a dream to write for a living. She completed her first novel in her twenties and received her first very nice rejection. Life then got in the way until she picked up her dream again in 2010 and shortly afterwards had her first short story published. Elaine and her patient husband, Dave, have five children who have flown the nest. Home is in Dartford, Kent and is always busy with their children, grandchildren, grand dogs and cats visiting.
Molly Cooper tucked her blonde hair behind her ear before picking up the folded newspaper that had been left on the wooden counter in Foyles, the London bookshop. The paper rustled as she unfolded it, causing her to look over her shoulder for old Leadbetter.
A hand tugged at Molly’s skirt.
Looking down, a little girl was clutching the black material. She stooped down. ‘Yes, little one, what can I do for you?’ Molly looked around her. ‘Where’s your ma?’
The little girl turned and pointed to the rows of shelving, bowed under the weight of the tomes, just as a young woman carrying several books approached them. The child beamed and ran towards her.
The woman smiled apologetically. ‘I’m sorry, I lose all track of time when I’m in this shop, and my daughter gets bored.’
‘We all feel the same; there are so many to choose from.’ Molly smiled. ‘I don’t think customers get to see half of them.’ She looked around, remembering the excitement she felt when she first walked through the doors of Foyles Bookshop, as a young girl.
‘I don’t know how you manage to get any work done. I’d spend all my time reading the books.’ The woman juggled her newfound treasures into her arms and took the little girl’s hand. ‘Right, we had better go and pay for these, before the shop closes and I have to put them all back.’
Molly smiled as she watched them walk over towards Alice’s counter, before going over to the payment booth, where her friend Victoria would take the money for the purchases. She would miss working at Foyles and chatting with her friends, but this wasn’t about her. She had to do what was right. As always, Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm jumped into her head. The story had been with her since she’d read it as a child. Rebecca was a young girl that had to be strong and be herself, no matter what rules were laid down to stop her, and she had won out in the end. Wasn’t that what she had to do?
Sighing, Molly glanced around to see if old Leadbetter was nearby. Satisfied there was no sign of him, she turned back to the front page of the newspaper. The picture of Lord Kitchener filled it, along with the news that he had drowned on his way to Russia. Tony’s face was suddenly in the forefront of her mind. His smile had captured every woman’s heart. Her mind played a rerun of him lighting one of his Players cigarettes as they sat under a tree in Greenwich Park. He showed off, blowing circles with the smoke he had inhaled. She had wanted to be his wife, practising her signature in readiness of his proposal, and giggling at his playful ways. Her eyes blurred as they stared unseeing at the paper. Molly blinked quickly to stop the tears from falling. She had been naïve and her friend, Alice, had been right, although she hadn’t listened at the time. Tony hadn’t been able to stop himself from chancing his arm with every pretty face he saw. He had never been going to propose to her. She had made a fool of herself over him and now she had to live with the guilt of what she had done. Had she really called him a coward for not enlisting, when all the other men did at the beginning of the war? It was unforgivable. Molly was thankful she hadn’t introduced Tony to her parents. They wouldn’t have understood the attraction, but now she couldn’t talk to them about what was eating her alive.
Now Kitchener’s family were going through the same horrors of getting a visit from the telegram boy, telling them they have lost someone they love.
‘It’s a real tragedy.’
Molly dropped the paper as though it was burning her fingers. There was no need to look round; she knew that voice. She didn’t think he would miss her. He had caught her up to no good, on numerous occasions.
‘He was a great Field Marshall and I’m sure he will leave a hole that won’t be easily filled. Asquith could have a problem there.’ Mr Leadbetter’s breath brushed against her cheek.
Molly nodded as she looked down at Kitchener’s picture. Her nose wrinkled as the strong waft of cheese caught in the back of her throat. ‘That’s what my father also thought, Mr Leadbetter. He said last night, the prime minister would struggle to replace him.’
He sighed. ‘This war certainly has a lot to answer for.’
They both stared down at the picture, each lost in thought.
A girl giggled. ‘So many books. It must be lovely to work here. Do you think I could get a job at Foyles when I’m older?’
An older woman laughed. ‘You’d never get any work done, and you’d spend all your money on books.’
Molly’s lips lifted as she remembered the nervous excitement of her first day working at Foyles. The large sign outside, declaring them to be the largest bookseller in London, shouted at the passers-by, inviting them in. It promised refunds of two thirds of the price, if the book was returned after being read. Once she had walked into the shop, it was like entering another world. The musty smell of the second hand books, stacked along the shelves, had seemed endless. She had been overwhelmed when she realised it spread over six floors and every nook and cranny had been crammed with books.