Books make super Christmas presents so I thought I’d gather together a selection of gorgeous Christmas books that would make perfect stocking fillers. And for day two we’ve got a touch of nostalgia with Elaine Everest’s heartwarming A Gift from Woolworths.
Will the war be over by Christmas?
As the war moves into 1945 the lives of the women of Woolworths continue. When store manager, Betty Billington, announces she is expecting Douglas’s baby her future life is about to change more than she expects.
Freda has fallen in love with the handsome Scottish engineer but will it end happily?
Maisie loves being a mother and also caring for her two nieces although she still has her own dreams. When her brother appears on the scene he brings unexpected danger to the family.
Meanwhile Sarah dreams of her husband’s return and a cottage with roses around the door but Woolworths beckons.
Will our girls sail into times of peace, or will they experience more heartache and sorrow? With a wedding on the horizon, surely only happiness lies ahead – or does it?
A Gift from Woolworths is the next instalment in Elaine Everest’s much-loved Woolworths series.
‘A warm, tender tale of friendship and love’ Milly Johnson
‘Heartwarming . . . a must-read’ Woman’s Own
Your Woolworths series is very popular, Elaine. Woolworths has so many happy memories for a lot of people – I was a Saturday girl myself – can you tell us a bit about the series?
A Gift From Woolworths is my third Christmas Woolies book set around the Woolworths store in Erith, Kent, during World War Two. When my publisher requests a Christmas book you may well hear me groan as I have to dig deep to decide on a story which will entertain my readers and also deliver another look at the lives of my much loved characters. One book, Carols From Woolworths (an eBook novella) is set around a few days at Christmas when the staff are trapped in their Woolworths branch by an unexploded bomb in a tobacconist shop a few shops down the road. I had fun thinking about the plot and what would happen – especially with a cellar full of customers, a store inspector and a pregnant woman. Of course I had to also add a few tear but I’ll not mention them here. It was fun to write and I had to remind myself at times not to turn it into an episode of Dad’s Army.
For the current book, and also Christmas at Woolworths, I was back into researching what was happening on the home front during those bleak times. What food was available and how were families coping with their loved ones away from home? I don’t write especially gritty ‘clogs and shawls’ type sagas as I have to be true to my characters and the people who lived in the town at that time – some are still with us and would jump on me from a great height if I put a foot out of line – so I have to remember the good people of Erith and how they enjoyed the season. Things need to happen in my characters lives so I look to each girl and decide what to throw at them over the festive period. I also love a good sing song and remember well my own family, who lived in the area, and enjoyed nothing more than getting up to sing at family parties and weddings. So, in my books my characters are the singers. It’s a wonderful excuse to pull out records and also to log into YouTube and while away the hours watching and listening to crooners of the war years be it Gracie Fields, Vera Lynn or Flanagan and Alan. So many readers recall the songs from the war years that I’m told it is one of their favourite parts of my books when the characters decide to have a party! However, we can never have a party or a wedding without something happening…
It sounds wonderfully festive, Elaine, and I’m sure a lot of your readers will identify with the characters and have similar memories. Can you tell us what your favourite Christmas memory is?
For me it was going shopping to buy gifts for my family. Woolworths played a big part in my shopping when a youngster and having limited pocket money. I would choose boxed handkerchiefs for Dad and Granddad, and lavender water for Mum and Nan. A small toy for my brother and a book for my sister. I can still see the canopy of decorations over the Christmas counter and used that memory in The Woolworths Girls. Such happy memories of days gone by.
I used to shop for Christmas presents for my mum and dad in Woolworths too. 🙂 When do put up your Christmas tree, Elaine and do you prefer a real or artificial one?
Christmas Eve – if I do put up a tree. It was always a tradition, when my niece was young, that she came to my house to celebrate my birthday and we put up the tree together. These days I don’t bother so much with a tree but if I did it would be a real one for the fragrance. My husband bought me a cute real tree in a pot a few years ago, which was no more than twelve inches in height. We put it out in the garden in the new and has been repotted a few time since. I’d say it’s around five feet tall. I dare not bring it indoors in case it sheds its needles and fades away. Perhaps I’ll decorate it in the garden!
That sounds a good idea! How do you spend Christmas Day?
It is always a lovely quiet day at home with my husband and our dog, Henry. We will exchange gifts – Henry loves this and his pile of presents is always the largest – and then take him out for a walk before we get stuck into our meal preparations. I may open my laptop to wish friends a merry Christmas but on the whole we will just slob out with a drink or three.
What present are you hoping to receive this year?
Being a Christmas baby and looking forward to a special birthday this year we have already planned a joint birthday/Christmas treat. We are heading to Switzerland on a train. My husband isn’t a fan of flying and I can take it or leave it so we are catching the train at St Pancras with a tour guide and sitting back to enjoy the sights and organised trips up and down the peaks – and in the sun! We aren’t going until later in the year so I do hope for a few treats in my stocking on the big day.
That sounds wonderful, Elaine. I hope you have a fantastic time. Thanks so much for dropping by to talk to us. Merry Christmas!
Elaine Everest, author of Bestselling novels The Woolworths Girls, The Butlins Girls, Christmas at Woolworths, and Wartime at Woolworths was born and brought up in North West Kent, where many of her books are set. She has been a freelance writer for twenty years and has written widely for women’s magazines and national newspapers, with both short stories and features. Her non-fiction books for dog owners have been very popular and led to broadcasting on radio about our four legged friends. Elaine has been heard discussing many topics on radio from canine subjects to living with a husband under her feet when redundancy looms.
When she isn’t writing, Elaine runs The Write Place creative writing school at The Howard Venue in Hextable, Kent and has a long list of published students.
Elaine lives with her husband, Michael, and their Polish Lowland Sheepdog, Henry, in Swanley, Kent and is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, The Crime Writers Association, The Society of Women Writers & Journalists and The Society of Authors.
You can find out more about Elaine here:
When Saffy’s sister called to say she was stuck abroad with no hope of getting home to run her usual ‘singles Christmas lunch’, Saffy knew she would have to abandon her plans for wild festive parties in the city and head down to remote Cornwall to save the day. But family parties are so not her thing and both her sister Hannah and sexy single dad Logan seems certain she’ll never manage. Can she prove them wrong? Now available in print and as an ebook: