I am delighted to share an extract today for Wartime With The Tram Girls by Lynn Johnson . I wish I had got the time to read this rather than just offering an extract as this book sounds great. Many thanks to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for my spot on the tour and for arranging my extract for the final day of the tour.
This is the second book in the two book series.
July 1914: Britain is in turmoil as WW1 begins to change the world. While the young men disappear off to foreign battlefields, the women left at home throw themselves into jobs meant for the boys.
Hiding her privileged background and her suffragette past, Constance Copeland signs up to be a Clippie – collecting money and giving out tickets – on the trams, despite her parents’ disapproval.
Constance, now known as Connie, soon finds there is more to life than the wealth she was born into and she soon makes fast friends with lively fellow Clippies, Betty and Jean, as well as growing closer to the charming, gentle Inspector Robert Caldwell.
But Connie is haunted by another secret; and if it comes out, it could destroy her new life.
After war ends and the men return to take back their roles, will Connie find that she can return to her previous existence? Or has she been changed forever by seeing a new world through the tram windows?
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Preparations for Christmas were well underway at Holmorton Lodge. Mrs Williams had been working day and night in the kitchen. Alice had taken over much of the housework and day-to-day management under Mrs Williams’s tutelage and was doing a good job.
Constance and her mother were sitting in the morning room taking their tea. There was a knock on the door and Mrs Williams, along with a tearful Alice, entered.
‘Sorry to trouble you Mrs Copeland, but Alice here’s had a problem at the butcher’s.’
‘Whatever’s the matter, Alice?’ asked Constance.
‘They have put up the meat we ordered but won’t give it to me unless I pay for it. Oh Miss Constance, they say we’re behind with the bill. I dunno what to do.’
‘She’s right, ma’am, I have checked the book. Nothing’s been paid since October,’ said Mrs Williams.
Constance turned to look at her mother. ‘Surely that can’t be right?’
‘Mrs Williams, would you and Alice mind leaving us, and I’ll get it sorted?’ Mother asked.
When they were alone, her mother continued. ‘I will speak to your father immediately.’
‘Before you go, Mother, I would like to understand a little more about our finances. We have a very nice lifestyle, but I have no idea how it’s funded.’
‘Your father deals with all of that, but I can tell you a little. The proceeds from the sale of the business and our house in Manchester enabled us to buy this house,’ her mother waved her arms about her, ‘and renovate it.’
‘I remember, it looked very sad when we moved in. I imagined it to be haunted or fancied some other terrible event had taken place!’
‘It’s a substantial property and your father could see its merits. The remainder of the money was invested equally in Government Bonds and shares in solid British companies.’
‘What are Government Bonds?’
‘I believe it’s money lent to the government by people like ourselves. In return, we get guaranteed interest periodically. The shares pay dividends which are not guaranteed but the income we get is higher, so it makes sense to have a mix of both. We live on the interest and dividends.’
‘I think I understand.’
‘Things have not gone too well for us recently. The war has had a considerable effect on our income. Many companies are paying very low dividends or none at all.’
‘Is that why he hasn’t replaced any of the servants?’
‘In part. We would have had considerable difficulty finding anyone when factories are paying such high wages for women, and conscription has taken most able-bodied men.’
Constance’s cheeks felt tight. How could they be in such a predicament without her knowing? She might have helped in some way. ‘Why didn’t you tell me?’
‘We didn’t want to bother you. You had enough on your plate. Your father thought we could manage without selling investments which are perfectly sound and will pay out again once the war is over and things get back to normal. We didn’t think that the war would last so long and it is affecting all incomes. Add this to the increase in living costs and we are feeling the strain of it all.’
‘My wedding fiasco hasn’t helped, has it?’
‘In all honesty, no. But we shall manage.’ Her mother got to her feet. ‘I must talk to your father.’
Constance didn’t understand much of what her mother said, after all financial matters were the domain of the man of the house and her education had done nothing to change that. All this information about shares and bonds and equities was beyond her current understanding, but that could be resolved in time and Constance decided that would be her first priority.
She could understand now why her father had been so eager to see her married, but she was not and never would be another commodity to be bought and sold. She would get a job as soon as she possibly could, where she could start immediately, and get paid. She might not earn very much initially, but at least she would make a contribution.
A job that was different, where the pay was the same for men and women. A job that gave her some freedom.
About the Author…
Lynn Johnson was born in the Staffordshire Potteries and went to school in Burslem, where the novel is set. She left school with no qualifications and got a job as a dental nurse (and lasted a day), a nursery assistant, and a library assistant before her ambition grew and she enrolled at the Elms Technical College, Stoke-on-Trent and obtained six O’levels. She obtained a Diploma in Management Studies and a BA Hons in Humanities with Literature from the Open University while working full-time.
Most of her working life was spent in Local Government in England and Scotland, and ultimately became a Human Resources Manager with a large county council.
She started to write after taking early retirement and moving to the north of Scotland with her husband where she did relief work in the famous Orkney Library and Archives, and voluntary work with Orkney’s Learning Link. Voluntary work with Cats Protection resulted in them sharing their home with six cats.
She joined Stromness Writing Group and, three months after moving to Orkney, wrote a short story which would become the Prologue to The Girl From the Workhouse.
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