- Author: Judith Barrow
- Published: May 2013 by Honno Press
- Category: Historical Fiction
In May 1950, Britain is struggling with the hardships of rationing and the aftermath of the Second World War. Peter Schormann, a German ex-prisoner of war, has left his home country to be with Mary Howarth, matron of a small hospital in Wales. The two met when Mary was a nurse at the POW camp hospital. They intend to marry, but the memory of Frank Shuttleworth, an ex-boyfriend of Mary’s, continues to haunt them and there are many obstacles in the way of their happiness, not the least of which is Mary’s troubled family. When tragedy strikes, Mary hopes it will unite her siblings, but it is only when a child disappears that the whole family pulls together to save one of their own from a common enemy.
Changing Patterns continues the story of Mary Howarth and her family in the post WWII years. At the close of Pattern of Shadows, Mary, her brother Tom and their mother had moved from Ashford in the North of England, to Wales. Mary believed her ill-fated liaison with the German doctor and POW Peter Schormann was over until he turned up on her doorstep five years later. The war may be over but prejudice and danger still linger on, even in a small Welsh village.
Mary and Peter, together with Mary’s brother Tom, are now happily settled together in their cottage in Wales, courtesy of Iori’s mother, Gwyneth. Mary and Peter are planning to marry in the near future. When tragedy strikes and Mary witnesses her brother’s death by a hit and run driver she is completely devastated.
Trembling Mary dropped to her knees. Tom’s eyes were closed, his face a blank mask.
“Help him, Peter.” Mary forced the words past the hard lump in her throat, all her nursing training deserting her. “Help him. Please….”
Tom took a long shuddering breath.
In the fading light Mary watched the dark pool of blood spread.
All is not running smoothly with Mary’s family in Ashford. Ellen, Mary’s sister, is bearing the brunt of her resentful and mean-spirited mother-in-law’s vicious tongue. Patrick, their brother, is putting his marriage to Jean, Mary’s friend, at risk and the children are caught in the cross fire. Relationships are strained almost to breaking point when news of Tom’s death reaches them. Ellen, Jean and the children make the journey to Wales for the funeral and once again they look to Mary to sort out their problems.
Events from the past continue to shape the present, most notably the question mark over Frank Shuttleworth’s death. Although this basically is a novel of family, with the relationships, tensions and the bond that holds them together, it also showcases the after effects of war and the lingering effects, not only those who were prisoners of war, but on the rest of society as well.
The authenticity of place and characterisations shine through this absorbing tale, and the many diverse details and dialogue of the time are clearly well researched, resulting in an extremely well written and structured narrative. The stories and troubles of each family are cleverly interwoven into the sometimes gritty, but very realistic story, and the characters are distinct and believable. It’s also representational of human nature and the principles of right and wrong. I’m looking forward to the last book of the trilogy.
About the author
I have an MA in Creative Writing, B.A. (Hons.) in Literature, and a Diploma in Drama and Script Writing. I’ve had short stories, poems, plays, reviews and articles published throughout the British Isles, notably in several Honno anthologies. My play, It’s Friday so it must be Fish was performed at the Dylan Thomas Centre in Swansea. A short film was made of my play, My Little Philly, and toured the Indie Festival. I am also a Creative Writing tutor and run workshops on all genres.
When I’m not writing I spend time doing research for my writing, walking the Pembrokeshire countryside or organising the letting of our holiday apartment Saddleworth House.