Fractured Families: A Guest Post by Dianne Noble, Author of Oppression

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I love books and I love travel and what better than to combine the two! Today, I am delighted to welcome back Dianne Noble to Linda’s Book Bag. Previously, Dianne took me to India in a super guest post that you can read here when her book A Hundred Hands was published and I’ve now booked a trip there for next year!

Today, we’re featuring Dianne’s new book Oppression, which will be released by Tirgearr on 14th June 2017, when I’ll be able to go back to Egypt, a country I’ve visited and loved.

Oppression is available for pre-order in e-book here.

Oppression

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When she tries preventing the abduction and forced marriage of 16-year-old Layla, Beth defies her controlling husband, Duncan, and travels to Cairo where she finds the girl now lives in the vast necropolis known as The City of the Dead. She’s hiding from her abusive husband, and incites fellow Muslim women to rebel against the oppression under which they live. Beth identifies with this and begins helping her.

Cairo is in a state of political unrest, and Beth gets caught up in one of the many protests. She’s rescued by Harry, who splits his working life between Egypt and England, and they eventually fall in love. When Harry returns home and Layla vanishes, Beth begins being stalked and threatened with violence. And then Duncan turns up…

Can Beth ever find peace, or will her hopes of happiness remain shattered?

Will Layla’s ideals of freedom ever be fulfilled?

Fractured Families

A Guest Post by Dianne Noble

I have three novels with a fourth on the way, and all of them seem to deal with fractured families.

In my current one, Oppression, which is to be published June 14th.and is available on pre-order at 99p., Beth’s mother has found religion and considers herself on a fast track to salvation. In actual fact she is hard and judgmental and when Beth’s father dies while she’s in Egypt helping Layla, the victim of a forced marriage, she feels truly orphaned.

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In my two previous novels, both based in India, Polly’s mother abandoned her (A Hundred Hands) and Rose’s mother (Outcast) is distant both geographically and emotionally.

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The background of dysfunctional families in each book wasn’t deliberate but in fact is, in my opinion, topical. Children are raised in single families as a regular thing nowadays, parents have to travel and work unsocial hours to put bread on the table so are often absent, and many of the UK’s immigrants have tragically had to leave their families behind them as they strive to earn enough to live.

In many ways my own childhood was fractured. Many people feel a nostalgia for schooldays, for friends known since kindergarten. There are reunions, old school ties, framed photographs of children in uniform on doting grandmothers’ walls. The oldest pictures, Lucozade-coloured with age, show school hats: berets, Panamas, a topper if you’d been to Eton.

Spare a thought for those who were brought up in service families! Many attended a school for such a brief time there was no time – or money – for a new uniform. You were an outcast in your navy blue while everyone else sported bottle green. I went to fifteen different schools between the age of five and sixteen and it added a great deal to my life experiences but very little to my social skills. It was just not possible to build friendships.

The first interesting school I went to was on a troopship, the Dunera. which was transporting the Scottish regiment, the Black Watch from Glasgow to Korea as part of the peace-keeping force, and we were being dropped off at Singapore. The first day at sea, before we reached the Bay of Biscay and the horrors of non-stop vomiting, I was sitting on deck in the sunshine, nose buried in Enid Blyton’s Ring ‘o’ Bells Mystery. I loved Enid Blyton with a passion, devoured all I could find and was totally engrossed in this one which my father had bought me for the journey. He was more than a little disgruntled to discover I’d finished it in a day and a half and told me I’d have to keep reading it as there was nothing else available. My reading was cruelly interrupted by an officious woman herding children before her for lessons. Lessons? It appeared we had to go to school for six hours a day for the next four weeks. The ship might founder, there might be flying fish off the starboard side, but nothing could interrupt classes.

School in Singapore was wonderful. We started at 7.30 and finished at 1.30 to avoid the heat of the afternoon. Our transport there was referred to as a gharry, but it was a lorry painted air force blue into which we had to clamber before sitting on bench seats and holding on to a rope to avoid being thrown out when we crashed through the craters in the roads. In the playground we caught snails and centipedes, while in the classrooms geckoes scampered across the ceilings, dodging the overhead fans, before dropping on the unwary. On the down side there was no chance of making, or nurturing, new friends. Service life produces children who are self-reliant, somewhat solitary – the unkind would say anti-social, and this background can produce further fractured families.

After a number of years in England we flew out to Cyprus, a beautiful island on which to be educated. Very early morning starts again owing to the high temperatures but now I was older there were trips to Kykko Monastery, Famagusta, the ruins at Salamis. When the threat of Turkish invasion grew, wherever we travelled we had to be in an armed convoy, escorted by UN troops from Canada and Finland in their sky-blue berets. As a teenager I was hugely susceptible to the attraction of a man in uniform, something which has stayed with me to the present day!

But the best school of them all was when, in my fifties I taught English in the slums of Kolkata where I squatted on the ground, in the dirt, with the children who lived on the streets. Their eager little faces, happy smiles, desperation to learn were heart-breaking at times but it remains the most worthwhile thing I’ve ever done. These children came from truly fractured families.

About Dianne Noble

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Born into a service family Dianne was brought up in Singapore, Cyprus and Yorkshire then went on to marry a Civil Engineer and moved to the Arabian Gulf. Since then, with sons grown and flown, she has continued to wander all over the world, keeping extensive journals of her personal experiences which she uses for her novels. Fifteen different schools and an employment history which includes The British Embassy Bahrain, radio presenter, café proprietor on Penzance seafront, and goods picker in an Argos warehouse, have resulted in rich seams to mine for inspiration.

You can find out more about Dianne by following her on Twitter, visiting her website and finding her on Facebook.

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