IT'S SAGA SATURDAY!! Please welcome saga author, Tracy Baines...


Christmas with the Variety Girls

Christmas always means panto in our house – a legacy from the days when my husband and I both worked in theatres. When I came up with the idea for The Variety Girls it seemed natural to open with a summer season followed by a pantomime. They are the two biggest times in an entertainer’s year. A time when they don’t have to travel from place to place, up and down the country for one week’s booking – sometimes only one night. A long season means they can put down roots – for a few weeks at least.

Lots of people think showbusiness is glamourous – and it is, in its own way. But there’s a lot of hard work and loneliness that are a part and parcel of it. So when entertainers come together for a pantomime, they create their own tight knit community. Dressing rooms are allocated, and they will be made as cosy and comfortable as possible – a home from home. Photos and cards will be pinned on the walls, a favourite cushion, a blanket or pillow placed on a battered easy chair or sofa if there is one – what a luxury!  Being in panto means there is lots of dead time when not on stage; tapestries will be stitched, books read, and letters written.

There were traditionally two performances Monday to Friday, and three shows on Saturday. Saturday’s were the worst; in the theatre early, leaving late at night, then perhaps driving hundreds of miles home to spend Sunday with the family – before leaving again to be at the theatre for Monday night’s performance. It can be a hard slog – especially after New Year when no one feels the least bit Christmassy.

At the outbreak of war in 1939 theatres and places of entertainment were closed until further notice. The government felt it wasn’t safe to have large gatherings of people. There are so many parallels with the situation we find ourselves in today.

The government soon realised that morale was important. It still is. We don’t know what lies ahead of us at the moment but what better way to escape our troubles than to curl up with a book and escape to another world. One with happy endings.


Will Christmas bring an unexpected reunion?...

Frances O'Leary has always dreamed of being a dancer. But after war is declared and the theatres begin to close, Frances and the variety girls must search for work elsewhere.

However, Frances is hiding a secret. As far as her best friend Jessie knows, Frances is a young aunt who adores her niece, Imogen – but what she doesn’t know is that their relationship runs much deeper. Now, with the sweetheart who cruelly abandoned her returning to England, will her secret finally be revealed...?

A heartwarming festive saga for fans of Katie Flynn and Elaine Everest.

About Tracy Baines

From the age of sixteen, Tracy Baines worked summer seasons, pantomimes and everything else in-between at the local end of the pier show. She met her husband when he was appearing with the Nolan Sisters and she was Assistant Stage Manager. Her knowledge of the theatre world from both sides of the stage and the hierarchy that keeps the show running really bring this saga to life. She’s also written articles and short stories for key publications for this audience including Woman’s Weekly, Take a Break, The People’s Friend and My Weekly.

Facebook: @tracybainesauthor

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