War Orphans by Lizzie Lane (Ebury Press, £5.99)
If at all possible, send or take your household animals into the country in advance of an emergency. If you cannot place them in the care of neighbours, it really is kindest to have them destroyed."
Joanna Ryan’s father has gone off to war, leaving her in the care of her step-mother, a woman more concerned with having a good time than being any sort of parent to her.
But then she finds a puppy, left for dead, and Joanna’s becomes determined to save him, sharing her meagre rations with him. But, in a time of war, pets are only seen as an unnecesary burden and she is forced to hide her new friend, Harry from her step-mother and the authorities. With bombs falling over Bristol and with the prospect of evacuation on the horizon can they keep stay together and keep each other safe?
I have been very lucky to be apart of the blog tour, Lizzie has stopped by at The Book Corner with a guest post. She has shared with us her inspiration for the book. I hope you have enjoyed reading this as much as I did.
Lizzie Lane -
A GIRL WITH NO-ONE TO LOVE HER, AN ABANDONED PUPPY
WEBLEY BOLT GUN. Dispose of your pet quickly and humanely. Price 4/6d
This advertisement at the beginning of World War Two coincided with a Ministry of Security suggestion that if you couldn’t evacuate your pet to the country, it was an act of kindness to put it to sleep.
Their fear was that animals could be contaminated with mustard gas (as used in the First World War) or run amok when bombs began to fall. On top of that there was the food situation. Food for people had to come first and if the enemy blockaded the country (which had also happened during the First World War) there would be precious little left for dogs and cats.
As an alternative to this ‘do it yourself’ method, thousands flocked to vets and animal charities to dispose of their animals. Estimates vary and do not take into account those animals abandoned to starve, drowned or done to death by other means, but a figure of 350,000 during the first week of war is not unbelievable.
As a dog lover, I was appalled when I came across these figures. I hadn’t even realised such a thing had ever happened in a nation of animal lovers, but it most certainly did.
It was my editor at Ebury who asked that pertinent question, ‘What do you know about dogs?’
The answer was, lots!
I was writing about what I knew, but had forgotten I knew it! Astounding!
A bit of thought and the characters began to form. Against a background of animal massacre on an incredible scale, I began to write WAR ORPHANS.
The doggy character is Harry, named by Joanna, an orphan neglected by her stepmother and determined to protect the cocker spaniel puppy where she’d failed to protect her cat who had already been slaughtered.
Seb Hadley aids Joanna in her endeavours. Seb spends most of his time on his allotment, still grieving over the loss of his wife some years before. His daughter Sally is Joanna’s teacher and lacks romance in her life. It’s through Harry that she finds somebody to care for. It’s also through Harry that Seb begins at last to live again.
When writing this I thought deeply about how much animals give us and how little they demand in return; food, a warm fireside, a walk in the park. In WAR
ORPHANS Harry is one of those dogs who lifts everyone’s spirits in a dark time, being there and giving nothing but love.
I wrote about what I knew. I know dogs and perhaps because of that I have expended more emotion in this book than I have in any other. I cried a bit and I laughed a bit, just as I would have done if I had been there and it was my dog in danger.
Thanks so much for stopping by, War Orphans is out now. Don't forget to check out the other stops on Lizzie's tour.