Excerpts from Foxden Acres. Book 1, Chapter 1, The Dudley Sisters Saga.

Meet Margot, Claire and Ena in Bess Dudley’s story about friendships, loyalty, love and loss – and starting again.

 


An excerpt from Foxden Acres, Chapter One.

Bess fled down the stairs and ran across the marble hall to the front door.  She turned the handle, flung open the door and was through it in a flash.  She spun on her heels and pulled the large brass knob, until she heard the door click shut.  Holding onto the doorknob to steady herself, she caught her breath.  ‘Done it!’

     ‘Done what?’ someone standing behind her demanded. 

      Bess froze.  A wave of panic went through her.  She needed to compose herself – and quickly.  She lifted her head, stood as tall as she could, and turned to face her inquisitor. 

     ‘Who are you and what are you doing?’ he barked. 

     Bess opened her mouth, but was too shocked to speak.  The man standing in front of her was James Foxden, her brother Tom’s childhood friend and heir to the Foxden Estate.  She made a dash for the semi-circle of stone steps that would take her down to the drive, but James Foxden sidestepped and blocked her passage.  He threw down his cigarette, and without taking his eyes off her, ground it beneath the sole of his shoe.  ‘I asked you a question.  Who are you and what are you doing here?’ 

     ‘That’s two questions…  Which would you like me to answer first?’  

     James Foxden didn’t reply but kept looking at her, the frown lines on his forehead deepening.   ‘Just a minute…?’ 

     Bess watched the expression on James Foxden’s face turn from a scowl to a look of surprise. Then he roared with laughter.  ‘It’s young Elizabeth, isn’t it?  Tom’s sister?’  He extended his hand in formal greeting.

     Bess’s eyes flashed.  ‘Yes, I am Tom’s sister.’  Taking his outstretched hand, she thought how full of himself Tom’s old friend had become.  ‘Bess Dudley, how do you do?  Your father invited me to study in the library,’ she exaggerated, ‘and I lost track of the time.  Goodbye.’ 

    ‘Don’t go.  I haven’t seen you for years, not since I moved to live in London.  I hear you’re down there too, at a Teachers’ Training College.  How are the long and lonely corridors of academia?  How are your parents, your sisters?  How’s Tom?  Father tells me he’s doing a terrific job in Suffolk.’ 

     Bess wasn’t sure whether James Foxden was being patronising or whether he was genuinely interested in her family.  She gave him the benefit of the doubt.  ‘My parents are well, thank you, so is Tom.  He’ll be at home now; he’s here for the New Year.’

     ‘Good, perhaps we can–?’  At that moment an elegant young woman with black hair styled in a fashionable bob, wearing an evening gown of cherry-red velvet, appeared at the door – and James let go of Bess’s hand.

     Acknowledging Bess with a smile, more polite than friendly, the young woman looked coquettishly at James. ‘James, you promised me this dance.’  Then, without waiting for a reply, she half-walked, half-waltzed back to the ballroom, but didn’t enter.  She stood in the doorway, swaying to the music. 

     Bess turned to leave.  ‘Do you have to go?’ James asked. ‘Come and join the party.’ 

     ‘Thank you, but I’m not dressed for a party.’  Bess held her only winter coat firmly in place so the simple grey shift beneath it couldn’t be seen.  ‘Besides, my parents are expecting me.’

     ‘Of course.  Wish your family a happy New Year and give Tom my best.  Tell him to come up when he has time and we’ll go to the Crown for a drink – it would be good to catch up.’  James stood aside to let Bess pass.  ‘Will you be safe walking home on your own?’ he asked as she drew level.

     Her heart was thumping so loudly in her chest, she felt sure he’d hear it. ‘Yes, I’ll be fine.  I love walking home on nights like this,’ she said, gazing up at the full moon in the clear winter sky.  Sensing James was watching her, she brought her focus back to earth and for the longest moment found herself looking into his eyes. 

     Embarrassed by the intimacy of the situation, she said, ‘Happy New Year,’ which broke the spell, and she ran down the steps. 

     ‘Happy New Year… 

     By the way,’ he called after her, ‘what was it you’d done?’

     ‘Done?’

     ‘Yes, when you left the Hall you said, “Done it!”’

     ‘Oh, that!’  Bess didn’t stop.  ‘I’d left without being seen.’

     ‘But you haven’t…’ His words were lost in the cold night air.

An excerpt from Foxden Acres, Chapter One.

Bess fled down the stairs and ran across the marble hall to the front door.  She turned the handle, flung open the door and was through it in a flash.  She spun on her heels and pulled the large brass knob, until she heard the door click shut.  Holding onto the doorknob to steady herself, she caught her breath.  ‘Done it!’

     ‘Done what?’ someone standing behind her demanded. 

      Bess froze.  A wave of panic went through her.  She needed to compose herself – and quickly.  She lifted her head, stood as tall as she could, and turned to face her inquisitor. 

     ‘Who are you and what are you doing?’ he barked. 

     Bess opened her mouth, but was too shocked to speak.  The man standing in front of her was James Foxden, her brother Tom’s childhood friend and heir to the Foxden Estate.  She made a dash for the semi-circle of stone steps that would take her down to the drive, but James Foxden sidestepped and blocked her passage.  He threw down his cigarette, and without taking his eyes off her, ground it beneath the sole of his shoe.  ‘I asked you a question.  Who are you and what are you doing here?’ 

     ‘That’s two questions…  Which would you like me to answer first?’  

     James Foxden didn’t reply but kept looking at her, the frown lines on his forehead deepening.   ‘Just a minute…?’ 

     Bess watched the expression on James Foxden’s face turn from a scowl to a look of surprise. Then he roared with laughter.  ‘It’s young Elizabeth, isn’t it?  Tom’s sister?’  He extended his hand in formal greeting.

     Bess’s eyes flashed.  ‘Yes, I am Tom’s sister.’  Taking his outstretched hand, she thought how full of himself Tom’s old friend had become.  ‘Bess Dudley, how do you do?  Your father invited me to study in the library,’ she exaggerated, ‘and I lost track of the time.  Goodbye.’ 

    ‘Don’t go.  I haven’t seen you for years, not since I moved to live in London.  I hear you’re down there too, at a Teachers’ Training College.  How are the long and lonely corridors of academia?  How are your parents, your sisters?  How’s Tom?  Father tells me he’s doing a terrific job in Suffolk.’ 

     Bess wasn’t sure whether James Foxden was being patronising or whether he was genuinely interested in her family.  She gave him the benefit of the doubt.  ‘My parents are well, thank you, so is Tom.  He’ll be at home now; he’s here for the New Year.’

     ‘Good, perhaps we can–?’  At that moment an elegant young woman with black hair styled in a fashionable bob, wearing an evening gown of cherry-red velvet, appeared at the door – and James let go of Bess’s hand.

     Acknowledging Bess with a smile, more polite than friendly, the young woman looked coquettishly at James. ‘James, you promised me this dance.’  Then, without waiting for a reply, she half-walked, half-waltzed back to the ballroom, but didn’t enter.  She stood in the doorway, swaying to the music. 

     Bess turned to leave.  ‘Do you have to go?’ James asked. ‘Come and join the party.’ 

     ‘Thank you, but I’m not dressed for a party.’  Bess held her only winter coat firmly in place so the simple grey shift beneath it couldn’t be seen.  ‘Besides, my parents are expecting me.’

     ‘Of course.  Wish your family a happy New Year and give Tom my best.  Tell him to come up when he has time and we’ll go to the Crown for a drink – it would be good to catch up.’  James stood aside to let Bess pass.  ‘Will you be safe walking home on your own?’ he asked as she drew level.

     Her heart was thumping so loudly in her chest, she felt sure he’d hear it. ‘Yes, I’ll be fine.  I love walking home on nights like this,’ she said, gazing up at the full moon in the clear winter sky.  Sensing James was watching her, she brought her focus back to earth and for the longest moment found herself looking into his eyes. 

     Embarrassed by the intimacy of the situation, she said, ‘Happy New Year,’ which broke the spell, and she ran down the steps. 

     ‘Happy New Year… 

     By the way,’ he called after her, ‘what was it you’d done?’

     ‘Done?’

     ‘Yes, when you left the Hall you said, “Done it!”’

     ‘Oh, that!’  Bess didn’t stop.  ‘I’d left without being seen.’

     ‘But you haven’t…’ His words were lost in the cold night air.

She Casts A Long Shadow

She Casts A Long Shadow is the 8th book in the Dudley Sisters Saga and the third book in Ena Dudley’s series. It is a stand-alone sequel to The 9:45 To Bletchley and There Is No Going Home.

Preparing to expose a colleague of her husband Henry, as the mole at MI5, Henry is abducted by Special Branch and Ena is thrown into a murder case.

All the evidence points to Henry having killed the mole, which tells Ena Henry is being framed. Close to finding out the truth, Ena is suspended from her job at the Home Office and the investigation is blocked by Special Branch.. Only her sisters, who come to London to help her and her old friend Inspector Powell, believe Henry is innocent.

Help comes from an untrustworthy character. A deal is agreed: A ticket to Austria in return for the names of the mole’s associates, evidence to solve two of Ena’s cold cases, and the proof that Henry is innocent of murder. The catch? Ena accompanies the character to Austria as insurance.

She Casts A Long Shadow: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B089JDCR8D/

In paperback, e-Book, Kindle and Kindle Unlimited

Coming soon, is book 9 in The Dudley Sisters Saga and book 4 in Ena Dudley’s series – Old Cases New Colours.

Ena is sick of living in the shadows of spies and corrupt politicians, leaves the Home Office and sets up on her own. Dudley Green Associates, Private Investigation Agency, 8 Mercer Street, Covent Garden, London.

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75th Anniversary of VE Day

Newspapers called it a momentous day with headlines, “Germany Capitulates!”  and “Unconditional surrender.” And, quotes from the King’s speech, “The war is over. After five years and eight months complete and crushing victory has crowned Britain’s unrelenting struggle against Nazi Germany.”

Seventy-five years ago, on 7 May 1945, after almost six years of war that had cost the lives of millions; destroyed families, homes, towns and cities, the war with Nazi Germany came to an end. The Channel Islands were free again and Yugoslav troops liberated Zagreb, which until then was the capital of the Nazi-backed ‘Independent’ state of Croatia. Japan, however, kept the war raging. Not until 14 August was its leaders persuaded to surrender. Even then the Act Of Surrender wasn’t signed until 2 September.

Let’s Celebrate

For the first time in nearly six years, there were weather reports in newspapers and on the wireless. St Thomas’s Hospital, which like all other hospitals had worked tirelessly to save the lives of injured servicemen and woman, repeatedly sounded the Morse for Victory and the families of MPs, gathered for the Prime Minister’s address to parliament, waved flags on the terrace overlooking the Thames.

Although some servicemen’s clubs provided tea and sandwiches on the house, by early afternoon restaurants had sold out of food and there were no Allied flags to be had for love or money. Money being the operative word, as enterprising businessmen cashed in. And, as dusk fell, not only were government buildings, town halls and churches across the country floodlit, but lights in houses all over Great Britain were switched on. The blackout ignored; blinds at last redundant.   

Churchill gave the order to party!

Millions of people in cities, towns and villages threw street parties. I interviewed a lady who was ten years old when WW2 ended. Pamela told me about the street party where she and her mother lived. “I remember my mum saying there was a very important broadcast by Mr Churchill on the wireless. I had to sit quietly and listen. I can’t remember his exact words, but he said the German war is at an end. I have since learned that the broadcast ended with him saying, “Advance, Britannia.”

VE Day Street party in Regent Street Lutterworth
(Photograph Derek Day)

     Pamela continued, “The next day I looked out of my bedroom window to see all our neighbours in the street. They were bringing out tables and chairs – and two brothers brought out a piano. Everyone put what rations they had on the tables. Some people had sugar, other’s butter, some milk. Mum took chairs for us to sit on and two plates, cups, knives, forks and spoons. I don’t remember her baking that day, but she must have done because she made a sponge cake with jam in it, which with a jelly – we always seemed to have jelly – and a jug of lemonade was our contribution to the party. We were never short of bread. Mum used to put our ration of butter in a bowl, add milk and beat it. That way the butter went further. Everyone grew vegetables and fruit in their gardens and we all kept laying hens. I remember we had egg sandwiches – and fish and meat paste sandwiches.  And I remember the man playing the piano and everyone singing Vera Lynne’s wartime songs.”

The streets of London were packed. People sang and danced in Leicester Square and Piccadilly Circus, down the Strand to Trafalgar Square, down Whitehall to the Houses of Parliament and along The Mall to Buckingham Palace.  Bands in Whitehall played Land of Hope and Glory and when Prime Minister Winston Churchill appeared on the balcony of the Ministry of Health the Guard’s band played “For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow,” ending with a rousing three cheers. At this, the overjoyed Mr Churchill took off his hat and waved it at the crowd.

The Prime Minister was cheered as he arrived for lunch at Buckingham Palace. Later the crowds outside chanted “We want the King!” who, later, appeared on the balcony with the Queen, Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret – and PM Churchill.

In the evening Buckingham Palace was floodlit as was St. Paul’s Cathedral

Not everyone celebrated VE Day. 

For people who had lost loved ones, or their loved ones were still fighting overseas in the Far East and the Pacific – where, in the final months of the war there were heavy casualties –   it was a day of mixed emotions. Although they were happy that the war was over, for thousands of widows and mothers who had lost children in the war, celebrating VE Day was a bitter-sweet occasion because their loved ones would not be coming home.  

     The first services of thanksgiving were in St. Paul’s Cathedral and St Martin’s-in-the- fields.  A woman whose husband was killed in Italy two years earlier said, “Today I feel all pent-up. Not exactly bitter but sad to think that my husband won’t be coming back with the others. I’ve got to remake my life and carry on for the sake of my little girl. I feel much better coming and sharing in this thanksgiving service.”

The impact of war, personally and nationally.

The economic cost of the war almost bankrupted Britain, resulting in post-war austerity.  Clothes rationing lasted until 1949, food rationing until 1954 – and the far-reaching political effects ranged from the fall of the British Empire to the Cold War.

     Sadly, there are still wars and conflicts in many parts of the world, but, although our servicemen and women are still called upon to fight, on the whole, the people of Great Britain are lucky.

VE Day – 75th Anniversary Celebrations

In WW2 there were two Royal Airforce Aerodromes within two miles of my hometown of Lutterworth – RAF Bitteswell and RAF Bruntingthorpe. Bitteswell is now a large industrial park. But Bruntingthorpe, which in the war was a heavy bomber airbase, still operates as an aerodrome. On 8 and 9 May a thousand people had bought tickets to attend a wartime charity dinner-dance held in an aeroplane hangar at Bruntingthorpe Aerodrome. Now, because of Covid-19, it has been cancelled.

            However you plan to celebrate the anniversary of VE Day, stay safe.

Article by Madalyn Morgan

Leicestershire RNA Chapter Meeting at the Belmont Hotel

The Belmont Belles on the first meeting of 2020 – Friday February 7th

Six Belmont Belles with some of their books

Theresa and Maddie at the Chapter meeting

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Theresa Le Flem and Madalyn Morgan

It was good meeting. Lots of author friends were there. Theresa and I had fish finger sandwiches, which were yummy. Anyone with writing news – book launches or stories published in magazines shared, and afterwards there was a talk by agent, Kate Nash, on what genres and settings were fashionable in fiction.

Tuesday Guest Feature – Madalyn Morgan

Thank you for featuring The Dudley Sisters’ Saga on your fabulous Blog Patricia. I love the design of the poster with the book covers and photograph, Thank you very much.

Patricia M Osborne

It gives me great pleasure to welcome author, Madalyn Morgan, to ‘Patricia’s Pen’. Madalyn has come along to talk about her writing and in particular ‘The Dudley Sisters.’ Without further ado, let’s go over to Madalyn.

Madalyn Morgan (1)

The Dudley Sisters

Madalyn Morgan

Several things happened while I was doing a creative writing course with the Writers Bureau in Manchester. I have always been fascinated by the achievements of women in the Twentieth Century – especially in WW1 and WW2. My mother used to tell me about her life in the second world war; the work she did, the dances she went to, and the many letters she wrote to servicemen overseas. (She had a Polish penfriend called Vanda, which is my middle name.) My mum had a fascinating life, so when it came to the biography module, I wrote about her. My tutor liked the work but said, as mum and…

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Extract: There Is No Going Home – Video 4

Listen to the beginning of my novel There Is No Going Home.

This is the last of four videos which introduces you to the story.

London 1958, Ena recognises a woman who she exposed as a spy in WW2. Ena’s husband, Henry, an agent with MI5, argues that it cannot be the woman because they went to her funeral twelve years before.

Ena, now head of the Home Office cold case department, starts an investigation. There are no files. It is as if the woman never existed. Suddenly colleagues who are helping Ena with the case mysteriously die… and Ena herself is almost killed in a hit-and-run.

The case breaks when Ena finds important documents from 1936 Berlin that prove not only did the spy exist, but someone above suspicion who worked with her then, still works with her now.

Fearing for her life, there is only one person Ena can trust… or can she?

Watch the first video here

Available to buy on Amazon

Extract: There Is No Going Home – Video 3

Listen to the beginning of my novel There Is No Going Home.

This is the third of four videos which introduces you to the story.

London 1958, Ena recognises a woman who she exposed as a spy in WW2. Ena’s husband, Henry, an agent with MI5, argues that it cannot be the woman because they went to her funeral twelve years before.

Ena, now head of the Home Office cold case department, starts an investigation. There are no files. It is as if the woman never existed. Suddenly colleagues who are helping Ena with the case mysteriously die… and Ena herself is almost killed in a hit-and-run.

The case breaks when Ena finds important documents from 1936 Berlin that prove not only did the spy exist, but someone above suspicion who worked with her then, still works with her now.

Fearing for her life, there is only one person Ena can trust… or can she?

Look out for the next instalment…

Available to buy on Amazon

Extract: There Is No Going Home – Video 2

Listen to the beginning of my novel There Is No Going Home.

This is the second of four videos which introduces you to the story.

London 1958, Ena recognises a woman who she exposed as a spy in WW2. Ena’s husband, Henry, an agent with MI5, argues that it cannot be the woman because they went to her funeral twelve years before.

Ena, now head of the Home Office cold case department, starts an investigation. There are no files. It is as if the woman never existed. Suddenly colleagues who are helping Ena with the case mysteriously die… and Ena herself is almost killed in a hit-and-run.

The case breaks when Ena finds important documents from 1936 Berlin that prove not only did the spy exist, but someone above suspicion who worked with her then, still works with her now.

Fearing for her life, there is only one person Ena can trust… or can she?

Look out for the next instalment…

Available to buy on Amazon

Extract: There Is No Going Home – Video 1

Listen to the beginning of my novel There Is No Going Home.

This is the first of four videos which introduces you to the story.

London 1958, Ena recognises a woman who she exposed as a spy in WW2. Ena’s husband, Henry, an agent with MI5, argues that it cannot be the woman because they went to her funeral twelve years before.

Ena, now head of the Home Office cold case department, starts an investigation. There are no files. It is as if the woman never existed. Suddenly colleagues who are helping Ena with the case mysteriously die… and Ena herself is almost killed in a hit-and-run.

The case breaks when Ena finds important documents from 1936 Berlin that prove not only did the spy exist, but someone above suspicion who worked with her then, still works with her now.

Fearing for her life, there is only one person Ena can trust… or can she?

Look out for the next instalment…

Available to buy on Amazon

5.0 out of 5 stars

An era wonderfully created, a strong heroine, and a gripping read

Ena herself always draws the eye and her actions drive the story, but this book is filled with other very strongly drawn characters. I particularly enjoyed the portrayal of her two colleagues at the cold case department; and I really liked her relationship with Inspector Powell, perhaps one of very few characters she might just be able to rely on.

Fantastic Blog post and Review by Anne Williams @BEINGANNE.COM

“Highly recommended by me – and I must add that I was left with the thought that the whole story would make a quite perfect Sunday night tv drama…”

A fantastic review from Ann Williams @BEINGANNE.COM

A spy thriller – now that might be many miles away from my usual reading, but I must say I thoroughly enjoyed every moment of this one. The whole era is so wonderfully recreated, with little touches of contemporary and domestic detail that transport you into the late 1950s, with reverberations of wartime intrigue and the growing shadow of the Cold War. The world of espionage is beautifully handled too – Ena’s work with the wartime “cold cases” putting her in mortal danger, its source the mystery at the story’s centre, along with her husband Henry’s work with MI5 complete with all its confusing smoke and mirrors.

Ena’s a quite wonderful heroine, totally driven by her quest to uncover the mystery behind the reappearance of her former colleague, totally undeterred as the danger comes considerably closer to home, even when her marriage becomes affected and colleagues die in mysterious circumstances. She constantly bends the rules of engagement, and I loved her strength and dogged determination – and all her interactions with others, that made her such a well-rounded personality and so engaging, and a character I found myself rooting for as the threats to her personal safety multiplied.

But although Ena herself always draws the eye and her actions drive the story, this book is filled with other very strongly drawn characters. I particularly enjoyed the portrayal of her two colleagues at the cold case department; and I really liked her relationship with Inspector Powell, perhaps one of very few characters she might just be able to rely on.

I really do want to talk about some of the cleverly handled small detail – particularly the Collins enigma, the way it emerges and the quest to solve it, that opens another fascinating dimension to the gripping story – but I don’t want to spoil the story for others, which would be quite unforgivable. The layering of the whole story is so superbly done – the surprises, the twists, the whole way in which things often aren’t quite what they seem – and the nail-biting tension steadily cranks up towards a satisfyingly dramatic climax, vividly written and cinematic in scope.

And I really do need to mention the sheer quality of the writing – I’ve enjoyed other books by the author, but this one really does move her into a different league. The whole story – the concept, and the way it’s developed – is thoroughly excellent, every scene vividly described, the dialogue authentic and real, the period detail perfect, with every new character well-developed, integral to the story and driving the action.

Read the full blog post and Ann’s opinion of The Dudley Sisters’ Saga @ https://beinganne.com/2019/10/review-there-is-no-going-home-a-bletchley-park-cold-case-by-madalyn-morgan

On BeingAnne.com the are reviews of some great books. Check them out @ https://beinganne.com/