I dearly love reading war dramas – there is something about being centered inside a period drama that takes place during a war where you get to see the sociological effects of both the strain of war and the pulling together of humanity. People knitted themselves closer together in communities and cities, helping not only the war effort itself but drawing a closer tuck around the will to overcome the adversities which were not even known at that point in time. This can be readily seen in war dramas that take place immediately after one of the World Wars or those in-between years where peace was commonplace and tensions were less distraught with uncertainty.
I appreciate the chance to dip back inside History to understand those generations and better get a glimpse of my own family’s heritage for the eras in which my relatives lived inside but were unable to share living histories or stories with me lateron. There is a connecting thread of interest for everyone or we wouldn’t have so many lovely war dramas to read – I think this niche of historical fiction seeks not only to educate us on the past, but to help us draw a line of empathy towards knowing how strong we all can be when circumstances dictate impossible situations.
Whenever I find a stirring dramatic war drama, odds are in favour I will want to devour it’s chapters whilst connecting with it’s lead characters. I felt a strong connection with A Kiss from France as I appreciated where the story was set (with the women who worked in munitions making) and I applauded the focus on the postal mail angle, too! I grew up realising that sending mail to deployed servicemen and women was a kindness that gave a bit of reprieve and a jolt of hope to those who received our letters and cards. Unable to find the words to send as a young girl, I sent mail to servicemen and women in 2011 and 2012; hoping in some small way I could uplift their day with a bit of cheer.
The correspondences in this novel talk about how given limited time and resources, these silk postcards were a handmade approach to send a bit of cheer back to someone who was not expecting a reply from someone who was deployed. I can agree with the sentiment of wanting to make that connection because I think that is why mail is still very important today for those who are deployed. Being able to send anything back in response is a bit of a luxury, and to imagine how much joy those men had sending these home is unmeasurable.
In regards to the story, I had a cursory insight into this setting due to an episode of Foyle’s War where there was an explosion at a munitions factory and a murder mystery for Detective Foyle and Sam to solve. You were able to see a take-on what the munitionettes lives were like as the episode gave way to seeing Sam work undercover. I appreciate watching the serial for it’s cutting research and it’s insightful new approach to showing us the war era between both World Wars by giving us an inside breech into everyday people’s lives. Similar to reading war dramas, Foyle’s War is approachable due to how it’s centered on humanity and focused on the will of the heart to both survive and to live as well as one can during times of difficulty.
In lieu of a being able to read this for review, I wanted to offer the author a guest feature as a tipping stone towards being able to find a print copy of it on my own. All the guest features I host in lieu of reviews are a small bit of hope for me in return, as one day I’d love to find a way to gather the print editions to happily engage with lateron. I hope you enjoy where the conversation took us and that if your a regular reader of historical fiction with a specific focus on war dramas, this one might touch your heart to pick up.
London, 1917. Lizzie Fenwick is young, ambitious, and in love. At least, she thinks she’s in love with the soldier who answered the note she concealed in a box of ammunition shells. She spends her days filling shells with TNT, and her nights dreaming of the mysterious Harry Slater.
Eunice Wilson knows the exact moment her marriage to Jack began to fracture. He refused to enlist, and their patriotic neighbours never let her live it down. Now he’s been conscripted and she can’t help but feel regret for shunning Jack before his departure.
As separate tragedies cause Lizzie to make hard choices and Eunice to cope with loss, the two women are unsure how to adjust when peace finally returns. Little do they know that an earlier war-time betrayal will force Lizzie and Eunice to confront everything they knew about friendship, loyalty, and love.
A Kiss From France is a historical fiction romance novel set in London’s East End during World War I. If you like compelling human stories, believable female protagonists, and the suspense and intrigue of war-time London, then you’ll love this heartfelt tale of two women who yearn to feel alive in a broken world.
I didn’t realise they made silk postcards – do you know who created the one you found amongst your grandmother’s belongings? Was it one she made herself or one you feel she might have received? Do you know what led to the art form of sending handmade postcards such as the one which inspired your novel?
Hughes responds: The postcard I found among my grandmother’s possessions was most likely made in France and sent to England. I have a handful of them; some might have been sent to her and others to her mother (unfortunately they have previously been stuck onto some sort of backing, for display purposes I believe, and any personal information has been obscured). These WW1 silk postcards became very popular among the Allied troops. Sending a card was much easier than a letter because they often had pre-printed, quite sentimental, messages on them and only required a signature. It became quite an industry among French housewives who, capitalising on the postcards’ popularity during the war, began to embroider Allied flags and patriotic messages onto them. Later they were manufactured in factories to cope with the demand. Read More