IT'S SAGA SATURDAY!! Please welcome RNA award nominated author Francesca Capaldi...

As I write this, we're just coming to the end of Women's History Month, which feels very relevant to me as I start the third book of my Valleys series, set over one hundred years ago. The part women played in the Great War showed society, once and for all, what they were capable of. The jobs for which they'd once been deemed too weak – or too dim – were taken on with enthusiasm and with a great deal of success. 

 

There were womenfolk all over the country on farms, in factories, on public transport, in offices, walking the beat and driving vans, all jobs they wouldn't have been considered for before the war. In Heartbreak in the Valleys, Anwen helps start an initiative to work the local land to feed the village, as the food shortages increase. Some of the women in the village are helping the local farmer care for his sheep to produce wool for the soldiers' uniforms. Some work in the munitions, while others are sorting coal, to be used by the navy.

 

Many married women with children had worries about their financial insecurity. This is the position for Violet Jones in War in the Valleys. The soldiers' separation allowance was around twenty-one shillings (£1.10) for a private's wife and two children. This was about half of what they would have received when he was hewing coal. Violet is strapped for cash, and she ends up sorting coal at the local pit – but worse is to come.

 

Researching women's lives at that time has been an eye-opener. Many may have been 'only' working at home, but they laboured for twice as many hours in a day than their menfolk. Keeping a house clean and children well looked after took a good deal longer then than it does now.

 

The fact that women were able to take over men's jobs so successfully paved the way for women's suffrage and their growing acceptance into hitherto unobtainable jobs. I salute the women of the Great War. Although we still have a way to go, we owe a lot to them for our success today.

 

 

Heartbreak in the Valleys

The world was crumbling, but her love stayed strong

 

For Anwen Rhys, life is hard in the Welsh mining village of Dorcalon, caring for her mother and sister, while shielding them from her father's temper. Anwen comforts herself with her love for her childhood sweetheart, Idris Hughes, away fighting in the Great War. Yet when Idris returns, unwell, he is a changed man. In the midst of despair, can Anwen fight through and find hope again?

 

 

War in the Valleys

WW1 marches on, but Violet faces her own battle at home

Violet Jones lives a tough life, while soldier husband Charlie fights on the frontline. With very little money coming in, and two young children 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?

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About Francesca

Several years ago, Francesca Capaldi pursued a childhood dream and joined a creative writing class. Lots of published short stories and several pocket novels later, she’s now explored her mother’s ancestral history for a series of novels set in a Welsh colliery village. A history graduate and former teacher, she hails from the Sussex coast but now lives in Kent with her family and a cat called Lando Calrissian.

 

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