Today sees the release of Shelter by Sarah Franklin in paperback. Shelter is inspired by the little-known history of the lumberjills and Prisoners of War who lived and worked together in the Forest of Dean during WWII and formed unforgettable friendships during this time.
Shelter is available from your favourite bookshop.
To celebrate the launch of Shelter we have an extract...
Connie stuck her tongue out at the face gurning at her from the faded looking glass on the tallboy. Mud was everywhere, in her eyelashes and streaked down her face like bad rouge. It was going to take some serious spit and polish to get spruced up. For a moment she couldn’t remember why she’d agreed to go to the dance in the first place. But Hetty would kill her if Connie missed tonight’s final fling before the other trainees scattered, and it had been too long since she’d been out dancing. Time to make sure she still knew how.
Connie found the edge of the washcloth, spat on it and rubbed her cheek, twisting sideways to see if she’d improved the situation. Not a hope. She was scuppered – time to brave the water. She moved over to the chest of drawers and poured water from the jug that sat there in the porcelain basin. It was as clear as spring water and as cold, too. Nothing like the brown trickle you’d get back in Coventry.
Connie tangled the brush through her hair until it was stick-straight again and tugged off her drenched socks. When she’d been in the hostel, before she’d been billeted here, some of her fellow lumberjills had made a big song and dance about getting changed as soon as they were home from the woods. They’d swan around putting on dainty tea dresses, or the clean skirts and blouses their mothers had sent them.
Some hope of that for her. Connie yanked open the wardrobe door and stared at its contents. The cupboard still smelled of the forest; maybe she’d stop noticing once all her clothes whiffed like that too.
Nothing would fit. She’d have to wear that yellow dress, though she should have got rid of it months ago. Connie pulled it out, hangers jangling. The trousers and overalls that belonged to Amos’s son bumped into her uniforms, releasing another pong of the countryside into the air.
Connie draped the frock against her overalls and dragged the rickety chair over to the window, craning to catch a glimpse of her reflection. Behind the panes, finger-like twigs tapped at her and she jumped. This place gave her the willies, always something creaking or scratching. Whoever thought the countryside was still and calm hadn’t spent any damn time in it.
Sarah Franklin grew up in rural Gloucestershire. She lectures in publishing at Oxford Brookes, is the founder and host of Short Stories Aloud and a judge for the Costa Short Story Award. She has written for The Guardian, Psychologies, The Pool, Sunday Express. In 2014, Sarah was awarded a Jerwood/Arvon Mentorship on the strength of her opening pages of SHELTER, and worked on the novel for a year with Jenn Ashworth, amongst others.