I’m delighted to be joining the blog tour for The Stars In the Night organised by Rachel’s Random Resources. Thanks to Clare Rhoden for writing a guest post about her latest novel. First of all though, lets see what the book is about.
Only the War to End All Wars might get in the way of Harry’s plans…
From the beaches of Semaphore to the shores of Gallipoli, the mud of Flanders to the red dust of inland South Australia, this is a story of love, brotherhood, and resilience.
Purchase Links: Amazon UK | B&N | Odyssey Books | Amazon US
Over to you, Clare …
Thank you so much for hosting me and my novel.
The Stars in the Night is my third novel and my first historical fiction.
In today’s post, I’d like to tell you about five major turning points in the novel.
1. Harry and Eddie go to war
Harry grinned. ‘We are the army, Ma. It’s too late for all this fuss. This is war and they need us. All Australia has to do the right thing now.’
The story starts with Harry, a baker’s son, telling his mother that he has enlisted and is going off to war as soon as he can. Of all the countries involved in WWI, only Australia had a totally volunteer force – other countries sent both volunteers and conscripts. Why on earth does Harry want to go? I had to imagine myself back into a time before we were saturated with violent images of war, before we became disillusioned. Volunteering for danger and adventure, to see the world, and to be paid for it, must have seemed an amazing opportunity to the young men of the Empire. Harry, the eldest son of a widowed Irishwoman, also wants to escape the responsibilities that load his days.
2. Harry meets Nora again
Harry glanced almost absent-mindedly, but the glance was enough. Nora didn’t know where to look. He was staring at her, actually staring, and his smile had gone. It was a long moment—long enough for the colour to flush up her neck and over her cheeks before the smile returned.
By chance, Nora has returned from schooling in England in time to meet Harry just before he leaves. Childhood friends although their social circumstances are very different – Nora is a rich man’s daughter – Harry and Nora share a love that withstands challenges across the years. Both strong characters, they don’t always agree, but their love brings them through the darkest of times.
3. Eddie goes missing
Harry opened his eyes in the cold light of a drizzling, misty day. He couldn’t think where he was. Then he remembered. There was nothing. No one had seen Eddie, no one had treated him, no one had brought him in. All headquarters had was Alex’s report, marking Eddie as ‘Missing Believed Killed’.
WWI battles were the most destructive the world had ever seen. The Memorial to the Missing of the Somme at Thiepval lists more than 72,000 names; the Menin Gate records over 54,000 missing from the battles around Ypres. The prolonged, heart-breaking wait for information about a missing man impacted hundreds of thousands of families. When Harry is briefly away from the frontline, his foster brother Eddie is lost in combat. I wanted to explore this experience which could affect families for decades.
4. Harry Returns
Nora leaned on the post, aware of the turning of time. Then she saw him coming down the drive, the strap of his swag crosswise on his chest. She nearly shouted his name. The next moment she realised that the waiting was over, that the future was here, and it frightened her. But it was her time.
I wanted to represent the majority of ordinary soldiers who survived horrific experiences and then returned home. They were expected to take up where they had left off, while the rest of the country wanted to move on, to forget the war. They somehow had to get on with life despite everything. I imagined them like paramedics, having to deal with terrible events and memories while they live their ordinary lives, not really able to talk about what they have seen. Harry keeps secrets and we, as readers, get to know more than his family does.
5. Kate discovers Eddie
‘This is me and Eddie,’ he said at last. ‘That’s Egypt, you can see. Eddie Flanagan was my foster brother. Just another brother in our family, you see; my father kind of adopted him, and we grew up together. And we joined up together. We did everything together.’
The novel starts and ends in 1970, with Harry’s grand daughter Kate discovering Eddie’s diary – Volume 1, that Harry has kept all these years. For somebody of the younger generation, both World Wars have receded into ‘history’. Through Kate, we can see that the horror of war has never left us.
Thanks for having me!
My pleasure, Clare … and thank you!
Now for the Giveaway …
To enter the Giveaway to Win a signed copy of The Stars in the Night, a metal poppy brooch made by a Melbourne craftswoman, and a cross-stitch poppy card, please click the Rafflecopter link. Giveaway Open Internationally
*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome. Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below. The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over. Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data. I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.