We’re going back in the past for our ‘meet the character’ interview this week. Talented author Lizzie Page is interviewing Elsie Knocker from her nostalgic war-time novel, The War Nurses.
Let’s find out a bit about the book
1914 – Two young nurses pledge to help the war effort: Mairi, a wholesome idealist hoping to leave behind her past and Elsie, a glamorous single mother with a weakness for handsome soldiers. Despite their differences, the pair become firm friends.
At the emergency medical shelter where they’re based, Elsie and Mairi work around the clock to treat wounded soldiers. It’s heart-breaking work and they are at constant risk from shelling, fire and disease. But there are also happier times… parties, trips and letters. And maybe even the possibility of love with an attractive officer in their care…
But as the war continues and the stress of duty threatens to pull the two women apart, will Elsie and Mairi’s special nurses’ bond be strong enough to see them through?
A powerfully moving wartime saga – you won’t want to put it down!
Now over to Lizzie’s interview with Elsie.
1917, we are in a cellar house in Belgium, very close to the Western Front. Elsie is wearing her nurse’s outfit and holding her dog. Despite her cropped hair, she is very glamorous. Mairi is outside cleaning their motorcycles.
Elsie, thank you for agreeing to see me. I understand you’re quite the old hand at giving interviews, is that right?
Oh yes, we were featured in the Devon Post last week. The Mail on Sunday the week before. I probably do interviews about once a month these days. And photos too. They call us ‘The Madonnas of Pervyse’ now back home in England.
Do you enjoy the media attention?
Needs-must. I prefer to spend my time looking after the soldiers, of course, but publicity brings funds and we need the funds to keep the cellar running.
So your main focus is still the war effort?
Absolutely. I realised early on, that we had to get closer to injured soldiers to have any chance of treating them. Mairi agreed with me, so we broke away from our original group, Dr Munro’s flying Ambulance Corp, and formed our own emergency centre here nearer to the trenches. It’s pretty dangerous, its dirty, its noisy, its…unpleasant but it has worked out very well.
What about romance?
Everyone wants to know about my private life.
That’s for me and my Gilberts to know.
It’s after the song:
I don’t know it.
You should. All work and no play and all that. It’s …pretty horrific out here sometimes. The soldiers are having a terrible time of it. We all need to find ways to take our mind off things.
I see. Can I ask about you and Mairi? You’ve been living in this tiny space for over three years…It must be quite an intense relationship?
What is it exactly that you want to know?
You’re still best friends?
We are. She’s like a sister to me. If it weren’t for Mairi, I wouldn’t be here. She makes everything bearable. She’s strong, kind and fearless.
Is there anything that could come between you two?
From my point of view, NO, never. You’d have to ask her that though, won’t you? She might feel differently.
One final question, you are a real person, aren’t you?
I’m as real as anything out here, thank you. Shall we go and take the photos now?
What everyone’s saying about the War Nurses
‘I absolutely loved this beautifully written book and was so absorbed in the story that I did not want it to end…This is a book to savour… A poignant, absolutely stunning tale, one of the best books set during the war that I have had the pleasure of reading – very highly recommended.’ Renita D’Silva
‘A great book full of friendship and hope during the war. Lizzie has written a compelling book bringing many emotions to the surface. A brilliant saga novel. Can’t wait for the next one.’ Chells and Books
‘At times I had to suspend disbelief – only to later find that the unbelievable things were true. Because Mairi and Elsie really did exist – and Page breathes life into their story.’ 5 stars, Goodreads reviewer
‘Absolutely fantastic book.’ Goodreads reviewer
‘A very good read… I was amazed at what both women did during the war… An inspiring and eye-opening book.’ Goodreads reviewer
‘An interesting fictional narrative based on real people and I would recommend it to friends.’ Goodreads reviewer
‘A very nice wartime story.’ Goodreads reviewer
‘Completely spellbinding – I absolutely loved it. The storyline is wonderful and the characters just bounce off the page. I love how she’s captured the essence of the time.’ Elizabeth Gill, bestselling author of Nobody’s Child
I love escaping into fiction especially historical fiction – I love reading about the way women used to live. Its much more exciting than my own life! After studying politics at University, I worked as an English teacher in Paris and then in Tokyo for five years. I came back to England, worked in various roles, and eventually did an MA in creative writing at Goldsmiths University, London. Several years of writing later, I was thrilled to get a contract with publishers, Bookouture. Woop! Partner Steve, three, sometimes lovely, children and Lenny the cockapoo all conspire to stop me writing.
You can contact Lizzie here:
Thanks so much for dropping by, Lizzie! Lots of luck with your book.
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