The story of a girl who, given the chance of a new life and seizing the opportunities it brought her, burgeoned into a talented woman of ideals and expectations.
Catherine Cookson was born in Tyne Dock, the illegitimate daughter of a poverty-stricken woman, Kate, whom she believed to be her older sister. She began work in service but eventually moved south to Hastings, where she met and married Tom Cookson, a local grammar-school master. Although she was originally acclaimed as a regional writer - her novel The Round Tower won the Winifred Holtby Award for the best regional novel of 1968 - her readership quickly spread throughout the world, and her many best-selling novels established her as one of the most popular of contemporary women novelists. After receiving an OBE in 1985, Catherine Cookson was created a Dame of the British Empire in 1993. She was appointed an Honorary Fellow of St Hilda's College, Oxford, in 1997. For many years she lived near Newcastle upon Tyne. She died shortly before her ninety-second birthday, in June 1998.
A handful of simple characters touched by tragedy are the protagonists of this moving WWII romance by the ever-popular Cookson, who died in 1998; this is the fourth of her books to be published posthumously in the U.S. by Center Point. On leave from the army in 1937, Sgt.-Maj. Geoff Fulton comes to the rescue of 14-year-old waif Lizzie Gillespie, quashing her stepmother's scheme to make a whore of her. Geoff, whose father manages a country estate belonging to the Bradford-Brown family in County Durham, arranges for Lizzie to work in the Fulton household, where his mother takes her into the family, teaching her skills and helping her to get an education. Lizzie makes rapid progress, growing into a beautiful and accomplished young woman, and it isn't long before Andrew Bradford-Brown, heir to the estate, notices her and pledges to marry her against his parents wishes. When tragedy prevents him from keeping his promise and leaves Lizzie in difficulties, she turns to Geoff, who, injured in battle, has returned home. Geoff lets her believe he will marry her, but meanwhile takes up with Janis, Andrew's sister and Geoff's first lover, who has just divorced her horribly battle-scarred husband, Richard. Through the tender, growing relationship between Richard and Lizzie, Cookson uses the emotional fallout from war to illustrate how sacrifice and challenge bring out the best and worst in people. In this beautifully unaffected story of triumph over hardship, the author shows that character and integrity cut across all social barriers. (Dec.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.