Try a Little Tenderness: A heart-warming wartime saga of a troubled Liverpool family

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From war will come hardship and tragedy as well as new, unexpected friendships and love affairs. London, one ordinary day, three girls arrive for work at London's renowned Foyles bookshop.

But when war with Germany is declared, their lives will never be the same again Alice has always been the 'sensible' one in her family - especially in comparison with her suffrage-supporting sister! But decidedly against her father's wishes, she accepts a job at Foyles Bookshop; and for bookworm Alice it's a dream come true. But with the country at war, Alice's happy world is shattered in an instant. Maureen Jackson is a prisoner of her father's blackmail.

ISBN 13: 9780747261100

Three years ago, she'd been hoping to marry Rory, the man of her dreams. However, after her mother's death, Maureen was left to care for her overbearing father. Now Rory is back in London with his pregnant wife and reminds Maureen of the life that should have been hers. With the war looming, Janet Ashley hopes to marry her sweetheart Mike, but her father refuses to grant them his blessing. Janet finds herself pregnant and her mother Peggy is determined to hold her family together. You will love every moment of this absolutely brilliant wartime saga, perfect for fans of Diney Costeloe, Soraya M.

Lane, and Nadine Dorries. As war takes its toll, the love and care of two brave young nurses become everything to the wounded soldiers they tend Two plucky young nurses pledge to help the war effort: Mairi, a wholesome idealist hoping to leave behind her past and Elsie, a glamorous single mother with a weakness for handsome soldiers. Despite their differences, the pair become firm friends. Thwarted in her desire to become a doctor like her brother, Robert, Pips Maitland rebels against her mother's wishes that she settle down and raise children.

However, when Robert brings home a friend from medical school, Giles Kendall, it seems perhaps Pips might fall in love with an acceptable suitor after all. But the year is , and the future is uncertain. Hearing that her father's friend, Dr John Hazelwood, is forming a flying ambulance corps to take to the front lines, Pips is determined to become one of its nurses and asks Alice Dawson, her maid, to go with her. Golden because it was the driest on record; strange because people were burrowing holes and roofing them with iron. Waiting for the bombs Conventionally married to the pompous Hugh, she discovers liberation during the war.

Like other women, she embraces the camaraderie previously held back by gender and class. For Georgia, for rich, spoiled Eve, for salt-of-the-earth Dolly, life will never be the same again.

Try a Little Tenderness: A heart-warming wartime saga of a troubled Liverpool family

But things don't seem so rosy when rationing, evacuation and air raids start to put this larger-than-life family to the test. When a mysterious young man arrives at the Brogans' local parish church, he provides just the dazzling distraction they need - and, for eldest daughter Mattie, the promise of more than she'd ever wished for. But as the pair fall deeper in love, they are drawn into secret dangers, rife on the very London streets they call home.

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Hattie finds herself relegated to the factory floor on her return from the war. Her workmates are unforgiving at Hattie's attempt to raise herself up, and she is soon ostracised. After journeying to Australia to marry her husband, Clara is betrayed and returns penniless, homeless and trying to raise a child alone. Lou's daughter and parents are killed by a bomb blast. By day she works at the factory; by night she roams the bomb sites, half mad with grief.

These women forge a bond that will ultimately allow them to find hope. October The narratives of her childhood, Twopence to Cross the Mersey and Minerva's Stepchild , retitled Liverpool Miss, followed by By The Waters of Liverpool did not attract much attention until the mid s, when joined by Lime Street At Two , a carefully constructed narrative of a young woman experiencing World War Two. In the first volume, told through a subjectivity constructed as that of her child self, Forrester is accepting of, yet mentally trying to negotiate with, a position of rejection even by the Church, which she describes as part of her original social strata: "When we are clean and rich we are Church of England.

Forrester's upbringing, privileged education, wider family, and social circle resonate strongly throughout the narrative as her connecting threads to the past, and her 'native' class, snap violently one by one, but any relocation to another, lower class is not considered, the family's status is poor, not working- class. In elementary school her siblings "all quickly learned to scream and swear with an unlovely Liverpool accent, though they did not do so in their own home" Forrester, , and when she was mocked for her disreputable appearance "I fought back my tears.

I was made of better stuff than the children before me. My family had been fighting England's battles while theirs were still serfs fit only to keep pigs. I would show them. The formality of the sentence structure implies a lofty perspective, the choice of language and imagery, disdain. Forrester became a charity social worker-cum-clerk in Bootle, probably the poorest Liverpool3 dockers' district. Her own poverty continued but did not change her perspective on the people she administered to; she had pity, even sympathy, but she was not as they.

Bullied by her mother into constituting a breadwinner for the family, Forrester expresses her resentment in complaints that she was not treated in a middle-class way. The Forrester family sense of status remained problematic, but their sense of "honour and prestige" Joyce, 19 was located in their class identity, their loyalty to the dominant culture overriding acceptance of different ideologies through their marginalised relationship with it. On the labour market, in wartime, there came the possibility to renew economic strength, but there remained a middle-class sense of honour and responsibility at odds both with that economic need and with working-class reality.

Forrester's sister worked in a factory but never developed a sense of solidarity with her working-class colleagues; she was "not popular with the other women on her assembly line, because she worked so fast [ Fiona was consequently subjected to considerable harassment, Forrester's derisory "lower middle-class" the judgement wreaked on the unsympathetic clerk at the Employment Exchange Forrester, As Bromley notes, "Helen Forrester's [autobiographical] work, particularly, is obsessed with status differentials" Bromley, Autobiography, as Forrester demonstrates, is a subjective rather than objective reconstruction of history.

Sagas may be fictions, but they may also present objective reconstitutions of history through individual subjectivities, attempting to articulate individual experiences of history. Giles propounds that "the tension between fiction and 'objectivity' in reconstituting history can be a productive one for feminism precisely because, in its refusal of any universalising teleology or its rejection of the generalising tendencies of metanarratives, it allows for the possibility of multiplicity and difference.

Thus we may examine fictions, or bodies of fiction, as offering reconstitutions of history and compare their veracity with other accounts of those same times, rather than dismissing them as equally generalising. Steedman prefers to speak of "the terraced houses [of Burnley] [ A "map" symbolic of a set of values or controls, perhaps, since Martin propounds that a [pre-War Lancashire working-class] "culture of control offered the only hope of creating human dignity and a modicum of self-determination against all the odds.

Forrester's story is resolutely one of loss of control, and failure of the adults she trusted to regain or restore control, yet she does not describe it in terms of, or compare it with, the working-class ethos, or examine it as illustrative of an emergent relationship to class which would have been typical of its time. As a gendered recollection it casts insight, as a social history it is observant, as a voice expressing working-class experience it is unsatisfactory. The pitch of keenly felt lack in Forrester's highly personal story evokes sympathy in the reader, her descriptions of bygone streets and activity emote.

Forrester repeatedly leads us through a vividly visualised geography of working-class Liverpool but seems unaware of the way in which neighbourhood "symbolism and the pattern of social relationships tend to echo each other" [Martin, ] Joyce, and to be able only to read those cultural symbols, discern those cultural patterns, which she learned from her parents, i. The engagement of other Liverpool writers with Forrester's version of the Liverpool story, an important factor in the transtextualisation of the Liverpool saga from autobiography to documentary fiction, hinges on this understanding of cultural symbolism.

The tone of authorial voice and the choice of language in saga novels combine to convey a set of values related to class, largely through a range of signifiers evoking that powerful, actual, if obsolete, system of symbolism. Such different tone of voice and appreciation of the detail of 'appearances' as symbolic of cultural standards and social relationships strongly signals the working-class focus of these authors. Compare Forrester's language tone and style in "they finally obtained a neat-looking terraced house with three bedrooms, a sitting-room and a living-room.

Windows and steps nice and clean, a credit to them. Moral worth as opposed to financial worth is the central theme of most working-class sagas and is particularly considered in the discourse of poverty. The Tutty's house stood out like a sore thumb amidst its immaculate neighbours with its grimy, cracked and curtainless windows, its unscrubbed step [ Via the Tutty characters Lee provides typically of sagas interesting and accurate insight into the personal consequences of poverty and the isolation it can impose on women and their children.

Liverpool library users, polled in , placed fifteen stories of poverty in their top twenty preferences of locally set or authored books, mostly sagas published in the s Appendix 2. Editors ask saga authors to write more poverty, a strategy that s sales charts show to be successful.

While, in most of her books, Helen Forrester's moral seems to be that 'we should not have come to Liverpool, our best solution is to leave it', through the s the back cover shoutlines on Liverpool sagas decreasingly emphasise 'the leaving of Liverpool' Moody, and increasingly emphasise poverty; "In spite of her poverty" Andrews' heroine sails away on The White Empress In the early nineties a poverty theme is implied rather than made explicit by Francis, "the misery of the Second World War and the hardship it brings is both real and unrelenting [ For fiction readers, what can be "warm and delightful" about "struggling through poverty and hardship" in Liverpool?

Perhaps it is the perception that these authors do not separate the personal from the collective Swindells, , or the private lives of Liverpudlians from the impact of public policies in Liverpool. Writing one or two novels a year, Liverpool saga authors read each other5 and meet each other6; they react to each other's work, renegotiate each others' ground, fill in each others' gaps in the Liverpool story, often in response to comments made to them by readers. The city has a nationally recognisable profile as a place of hardship and conflict, but more importantly the writers who use it as a setting are themselves very self- aware and reflexive.

Moody, Autobiographically, Forrester never positions hers as a collective experience or nor conveys any sense of a community or social experience, but she historicizes the lived experience of poverty and refuses to sentimentalise it. She also refuses to allow poverty or its victims or their strategies for surviving it any moral worth whatsoever, an attitude recognised by subsequent fiction authors as painfully unrepresentative in works catalogued as social histories.

This is an important area challenged by other Liverpool saga writers, especially in the s, sympathetically telling the story of those who stayed where poverty was inescapable, to reclaim 'for the record' the heroicism of attempts and strategies to defeat poverty and its effects. Most Liverpool saga authors devise at least one plot or sub-plot where a young girl is plummeted from boarding school in the south of England to a working-class home in the back streets of Liverpool, for example Going Home To Liverpool Francis, Unlike the real Forrester, the fictional character is taught how to cope by the experts among whom she is fortunate enough to have been welcomed.

Several sagas are primarily based on the same premise, for instance Promises Lost Howard, and Mersey Maids Baker, where characters of 'upper' class or caste are given the opportunity to become respecting of the poor working-class by becoming dependent upon them. In this instructive mode, one which attributes worth to working-class expertise and wisdom, sagas also inform the nineties reader, an important aspect of the saga's project. Liverpool sagas are "a point where text and lived experience overlap, provoking a discussion of the [reader's] material reality" Radway, and this is one of the primary pleasures of working-class perspective and poverty in these texts for their readers.

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That material reality includes acute awareness of the gap between present and past realities, and of the gulf between desire and gratification in that past reality: My mother's longing shaped my own childhood. From a Lancashire mill town and a working-class twenties childhood she came away wanting: fine clothes, glamour, money; to be what she wasn't. However that longing was produced in her distant childhood, what she actually wanted were real things, real entities, things she materially lacked, things that a culture and a social system withheld from her.

The story she told was about this wanting, and it remained a resolutely social story. When the world didn't deliver the goods, she held the world to blame. In this way, the story she told was a form of political analysis, that allows a political interpretation to be made of her life. Personal interpretations of past time - the stories that people tell themselves in order to explain how they got to the place they currently inhabit - are often in deep and ambiguous conflict with the official interpretive devices of a culture.


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Here, women's fiction can offer a space to challenge dominant value systems and examine the ways in which sagas describe emergent relationships to class and engage in renegotiation of aspects of the past. For working women one unpalatable aspect of the past has been the intrusion of middle-class judgements into, and misunderstandings of, their approach to family care. Giles, a: offers a useful overview of these. Studies of poverty and of family life, of 'social conditions', are from the s to the s frequently explained as the ravages of deprivation on the family whose pivot and heart is 'the working-class woman', she who may also be represented as its ignorant saboteur.

Denise Riley, , in Joyce, Here was knowledge and wisdom of practices that worked in spite of not concurring with middle-class educated advice, which often incurred untenable expense. Sagas also offer political fact and analysis, e.


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The meals he put away were disgraceful, they would have fed half of Liverpool. Andrews, b, 4. I thought that surely if rich and powerful people knew about them, they would do something [ In Liverpool factories married woman were barred from employment, No married woman was allowed to work at the tobacco factory. Those who married secretly, to try to keep their jobs, were soon found out and given the sack right away. It wasn't only B.

It was common practice in those days. Jones, The subterfuge they often employed, in secret wage earning work, clandestine entrepreneurial enterprises, credit attainment, or money borrowing coming to light more often through the saga's adaptation of oral testimonies than factual accounts. Roberts, Ayers and Lambertz report that "Deceit lay at the core of many successful [Liverpool] marriages during this period".

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Some additional assistance sometimes came from neighbours and friends, but these were deeply secret "back entry" transactions, "offered as unobtrusively as possible" Ayers and Lambertz, in Roberts, , another actuality echoed in fiction: John and his grandfather often piled [surplus allotment produce] into the wooden cart which John pulled down to the dilapidated houses near the docks.

Whenever possible they went through the back entries so that the vegetables could be delivered unobtrusively. Murphy, Authors note that readers often tell them details of their own past poverty-stricken conditions and seem to find it satisfactory to see their recollections appear in print in saga fictions. Flynn, ; Williamson, b. I would suggest that there may be a Liverpool women's covert history which is only now 'coming out', enabled by sagas. Sagas must often suggest heroics where none were possible as they attempt to renegotiate the lack of empowerment resulting from the type of economic exploitation that leads to a deeply ingrained sense of shame.

Marwick, Francis's own memories of poverty are too painful and personal to write about Francis, ; like most authors she knows that she "sanitises poverty" in her fictions. Perfect for fans of Lindsey Hutchinson and Dilly Court. Jenny and Laura Nightingale are as different as chalk and cheese. Jenny's pretty face and lively sense of humour make her everyone's favourite girl, whereas Laura is mean and moody and she's never out of trouble.

Their mother, Mary, loves them both and frets about Laura's behaviour, but soon that's the least of her worries Her father's new young wife, Celia, is about to bring shame on the family by leading Laura astray. Jenny attracts the attention of two young lads in her street who both want to court her. Mick and John have been mates since they were kids but now war is declared, and it's every man for himself! Meanwhile Laura's resentment begins to build and it's only a matter of time before things come to a head.



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