IT'S GUEST AUTHOR SATURDAY!! Please welcome Harper Collins author Joanna Toye...



They say – well, it was Shakespeare, of course – that parting is such sweet sorrow. That’s certainly how I feel about saying goodbye (for now anyway!) to the characters I’ve been living with and writing about for the past five years.

The sixth novel in my Shop Girls series, ‘Wedding Bells for the Victory Girls’ sees Lily, Gladys and Beryl feeling their way in the post-war world as young wives and mothers. They’ve come a long way since 1941, when they met as juniors at Marlows, a family-run department store in the Midlands – and I’ve travelled with them, though black-marketeering and bombs, bothersome brothers and boyfriends, and the joyful anticipation – and then the reality - of babies.

 I’ve laughed and cried with them, felt their fear for loved ones in the Forces, shared their secrets, their hopes and desires. The war gave them big moments of drama, but I’ve lived through the everyday with them too. I felt for Lily when she snagged a precious pair of stockings on a splinter. My feet felt as heavy as her mum, Dora’s, as she trudged home from hours of queuing to make another bland, stodgy meal of wartime food. But in all this, the girls and their families were sustained by the power of female friendship, kindness, courage, humour – and falling in love, of course!  

There was a huge surge in reading during the pandemic – and romance novels did especially well. There also seemed to be a particular desire for novels about the Second World War, which might seem odd, but I think readers found comfort in escaping to a time when, though terribly hard, everyone pulled together. In the end, good triumphed and as a country, as a people, as individuals and communities, we came through.

Just writing this has made me realise just how much I’ll miss Lily, Gladys and Beryl  – maybe it’s not ‘goodbye’ but ‘au revoir’!

Meet Lily Gladys and Beryl in ‘Wedding Bells for the Victory Girls’ by Joanna Toye, out now, published by Harper Collins, price £7.99.

The new book in the heartwarming WW2 family saga series – available to pre-order now!

Summer 1945. After victory in Europe, best friends Lily, Gladys and Beryl are looking to the future. But even with this happy news, their lives are far from simple…

Despite Lily’s joyful summer wedding, she has doubts over what her heart wants now. As she adjusts to her role as young wife, could this signal the end of her position at Marlows?

The return of Gladys’s husband Bill raises questions of their family life as he struggles to find work after the Navy, and for Beryl big changes at her bridal shop are afoot.

As the girls start to move on with their lives, they have never needed to stick together more…


Joanna Toye joined the production team of THE ARCHERS after reading English at

Cambridge University, and became a scriptwriter for the programme for over twenty

years. She has also written a number of spin-off books about the long-running radio

drama. On television, she has written for CROSSROADS, DOCTORS and EASTENDERS

Twitter @joannatoye



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