It’s an absolute pleasure to help begin the blog tour for War in the Valleys by Francesca Capaldi today. My enormous thanks to Sarah Hardy at Books on the Bright Side publicity for inviting me to participate in the celebrations. I’m delighted to welcome Francesca to Linda’s Book Bag to stay in with me today.
Staying in with Francesca Capaldi
Welcome to Linda’s Book Bag, Francesca. Thank you for agreeing to stay in with me.
Hi there Linda. Thanks for inviting me over on this chilly evening. I’m glad to see you’ve got a good fire burning.
We need a warm fire in November! Tell me, which of your books have you brought along to share this evening.
I’ve brought along my latest book, War in the Valleys, the second in my Valleys series, published today, November 25th.
Happy publication day Francesca. How exciting! So, what can we expect from an evening in with War in the Valleys?
A bit of a rollercoaster ride with emotional lows and heartfelt highs along with some argy-bargy between the characters. Also a bit of shouting, on the reader’s side, at the more despicable personalities, or at least, some fervent tuts and head shakes!
Oo. I love a book that makes me get involved with the characters. What inspired you to create War in the Valleys?
The idea grew from the first book, Heartbreak in the Valleys, which itself was inspired by a Welsh great grandfather’s World War 1 record. It’s set in a mining village in the Rhymney Valley, based on the one in which my mother and grandmother were born – Abertysswg. In fact, my great gran, Mary Jones, has a cameo role in the novels, as she would have been there, as a young mother of four, in 1916. I’m not sure what Gran would have made of appearing in a novel, but it would certainly have been useful having her around now. The research has given me a good insight into what it was like for my ancestors, but nothing beats first-hand experience.
What a lovely way to remember your great gran. I bet she’d be thrilled to be included.
What else have you brought this evening and why?
For a start, some Welsh cakes and tea for us to enjoy. Gran liked her cups of tea, as do my characters. The teapot should be brown and covered with one of Gran’s favoured knitted cosies, but sadly I have neither. Instead, I’ve brought my mum’s 1960’s Elijah Cotton Staffordshire ware (and my snazzy teapot!), along with a 1930s cake stand of my dad’s.
That’s wonderful. But keep your voice down. My husband is Welsh and if he finds we have Welsh cakes we won’t get a look in! Do Welsh cakes feature in War in the Valleys?
Poor Violet, in War in the Valleys, would have been glad of a whole, undamaged tea set, and to be able to purchase the ingredients for Welsh cakes (or bakestones, as she calls them). My mum used to make Welsh cakes when I was a child, and I’ve carried on the tradition.
I’ve brought Cerys Matthew’s CD, Tir, so we can play Sosban Fach, which my mother used to sing to me as a child. I’m sure a lot of the songs on the album would have been heard at concerts by my characters.
That’s a song I’ve heard many times Francesca. Lovely isn’t it? But what’s that you’re holding?
I’ve also brought a photograph to prop up on the mantelpiece, taken by my father in 1973, of Abertysswg, looking more like it would have done in 1916 than it does today. You can see the Workmen’s Institute and the public house, the McLaren Arms (the McKenzie Arms in the novel), along with the Ainon Baptist Chapel, now all sadly demolished.
I think photographs can inspire both memories and writing Francesca. Abertysswg is not a million miles from where my husband was brought up so when we’ve eaten most of the Welsh cakes I’ll call him in and he can take a look too. Thanks so much for staying in with me to chat about War in the Valleys. I’ve really enjoyed it.
Thank you for having me round for an evening in, Linda. It’s been good to chat.
It has. Now, you pour some tea and I’ll give readers a few more details about War in the Valleys:
War in the Valleys
WW1 marches on, but Violet faces her own battle at home…
July 1916. Young mother, Violet Jones, lives a tough life in the Rhymney Valley, caring for 4-year-old Clarice and baby Benjy on her own while soldier husband Charlie fights on the Front Line. But when tragedy strikes, Violet’s life becomes even harder.
While they may be far from the battlefields, the effects of WW1 take their toll on the small mining community of Dorcalon, with food becoming scarce and more and more of their young men losing their lives.
With very little money coming in, and two babies to care for, Violet takes in a relative to help make ends meet. But far from easing her burden, it might turn out to be the worst decision she’s made.
As the Great War takes its toll on the nation, Violet faces her own battle. All alone in the world, can she protect her children, and herself? And will she ever find joy out of the depths of despair?
A captivating, emotional saga set in WW1 – will tug on your heart-strings and bring a tear to your eye. If you like Nadine Dorries, Rosie Goodwin or Sheila Newbury you will adore this beautiful Welsh saga.
War in the Valleys is published by Hera today, 25th November 2020, and is available for purchase through the links here.