Pat Jeanne enjoys flower gardening, genealogy research and traveling with her husband. In addition, Pat has published essays, short stories and articles online and in print. Also, she has a keen interest in twentieth-century American and British history, particularly the period of World War II. Pat Jeanne’s father-in-law served in the British Eighth Army during the war.
When Valleys Bloom Again is her debut historical inspirational romance set in the WWII era. She is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers and loves to hear from her readers. Subscribe to her newsletter at www.patjeannedavis.com
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Now, here’s Pat Jeanne!
Writing an historical novel requires extensive research. At times, I went to distant and unfamiliar places to immerse myself in the era and the setting of my story’s world. When I made repeated trips to England with my British born husband, I combined visiting family with research for my novel in progress.
In living museums throughout England, people went about their tasks in clothing that would’ve been worn during the 1940’s. Helpful and eager, the guides shared what they’d learned. I also entered an actual air raid shelter and spent hours in a war museum. Similarly, I toured an aerodrome and the Churchill War Rooms in London. And I interviewed veterans of WWII in both the UK and US.
When Valleys Bloom Again
As war approaches in 1939 Abby Stapleton’s safety is under threat. Her father, a British diplomat, insists she go back to America until the danger passes. Abby vows to return to her home in London—but where is home? With her family facing mortal danger so far away and feeling herself isolated, she finds it hard to pray or read the Bible. Did she leave God behind in war-torn London too? Abby becomes friendly with Jim, a gardener on her uncle’s estate.
Jim can’t get Abby out of his mind. Did she have a sweetheart in England? Was it foolish to think she’d consider him? He curses his poverty and the disgrace of his father’s desertion and drunkenness haunts him. Can he learn to believe in love for a lifetime and to hope for a happy marriage?
Abby couldn’t know the war would last a long time, nor that she would fall in love with Jim—soon to be drafted by the U.S. Army—or that she’d have to confront Henri, a rejected suitor, determined by his lies to ruin her reputation and destroy her faith in God’s providence. Will she discover the true meaning of home and find happiness with Jim?
The opening for my WWII inspirational romance, When Valleys Bloom Again, was conceived after reading a biography on the life of Kathleen Kennedy. She was the daughter of Joseph P. Kennedy, the United States Ambassador to the United Kingdom. He and his family were living in London when Britain declared war.
Kathleen Kennedy’s story intrigued me. Due to impending war, her father forced her to return to the US for her safety. But Kathleen had made many friends while living in London and was determined to return some day. Subsequently, she returned and served in the British Red Cross. She married William Cavendish who was next in line for Duke of Devonshire. Sadly, he died in battle a few months after their marriage.
I based my protagonist, Abby Stapleton, loosely on Kathleen Kennedy’s situation at the outbreak of war in 1939. However in my story, Abby is the American-born daughter of a British diplomat. Her father also sends her back to the US to escape impending war. She too vows to return to London.
Fortunately, I enjoyed doing the research for When Valleys Bloom Again and became especially excited whenever I uncovered an extra special tidbit of information.
One of my return trips included Chatsworth House, the home of the present Duke and Duchess of Devonshire. I learned from a tour guide that in 1963, while on his way home from Ireland, President John Kennedy had visited Kathleen’s grave only six months before his assassination. He and his sister had been very close throughout her life.
Subsequently, I found the grave of Kathleen Kennedy in St. Peter’s Churchyard, not far from Chatsworth House. She too had died tragically shortly after peace was declared. I could only imagine the sorrow President Kennedy felt.
On another research trip in the north of England, I visited the largest purpose-built civilian air raid shelter in the country. During the Second World War, it had been extended to accommodate 6,500 people.
For instance, the Stockport Air Raid Shelter is a network of underground tunnels. A mile long, it is carved out of the sandstone hills on which the city stands and that provided not only protection but a way of life for families. Fortunately, this underground world is still intact today as during the war years. It gave me an opportunity to learn about the raw realities of life during the Blitz.
I came away with a deep appreciation for those who struggled to survive with only the basic amenities in depressing and stressful surroundings. I admire my husband’s family, who lived through those long years of war.
Romans 8:28 is a favorite of mine: “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose . . . .”
Similarly, Abby, the heroine in my novel, frequently reminds herself of this promise in God’s Word. She was uprooted from London and forced to return to a country far from her family and familiar life. Meanwhile, back in England her parents are under continuous aerial attack from the enemy. And on the battlefields of Europe, her brother and fiancé face death daily.
Excerpt from When Valleys Bloom Again
New York Harbor, Sept. 4, 1939
Finally, after sailing in a zigzag course to evade further U-boats, the Queen Mary slipped into the harbor. Abby emerged into the hubbub on deck as they glided under tow into the shadows of the Manhattan skyscrapers. She caught her breath as sirens blared from boats that accompanied them and water cannon spouted a raucous salute. Abby covered her ears as three thunderous blasts from their liner returned the greeting. Streamers of red and white and blue criss-crossed warehouses and the tall masts of ships moored nearby. American and British flags flapped an exuberant “Welcome” in the salty breeze as music from a brass band floated up from below.
Abby leaned against the ship’s railing, letting out a deep breath. She tried to see herself as a brand-new arrival, taking it all in for the first time. An undercurrent of sadness swept over her, diluting her gratitude and relief at a safe arrival. Reality hit hard. No chance of returning now. Still, it wouldn’t be enough merely to tolerate her stay here. She must take charge of her own affairs, and not simply react to circumstances forced on her. And she must put on a brave face for the sake of her family. Lord, I need your help.
The swirling mass on the dock below resolved into distinct faces, each searching for an answering look of recognition. Somewhere down there her uncle and aunt waited. Memories came flooding in of visits with her parents to Uncle Will’s vast country estate. She hadn’t seen Aunt Val in—Abby tallied them on her fingers—four whole years. She had always thought her stand-offish and hoped sheʼd improved in the meantime.
How to Reach Pat Jeanne and Her Novel
When Valleys Bloom Again:
Pat Jeanne’s Website: https://www.patjeannedavis.com
Amazon Author Page: https://amazon.com/author/patjeannedavis
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Lord, please bless each word Pat Jeanne writes for You.
~ For Jesus’ sake