Help me welcome the lovely and talented A.L. Lester, my morning writing friend and all-round wonderful human being to the blog today ❤️
The Fog of War: Lucille Hall-Bridges
Thank you so much to Nell for having me here today to talk about my new release, The Fog of War! The book is the first of a new trilogy in my Border Magic Universe. It’s a sapphic, historical, paranormal, romantic mystery set in rural England in 1920. I’m doing a bit of a blog-tour talking about the characters, settings and the history behind it and Nell is one of the stops. You’ll be able to find the other posts listed on my website as they come out this week. I’ve also had a Facebook Release Party in my group with drop-ins from similar genre authors, so please do pop over and see what giveaways and the like are still running!
Lucille Hall-Bridge (Lucy)
Born: 1895 at her family’s large country house Magenford, in Buckinghamshire, England.
Profession: None. Previously a volunteer nurse in France at the Royaumont Women’s Hospital between 1915-18.
Smokes: Anything anyone else has.
Drives: Like a demon.
Lives: At Magenford and then Bradfield, with Sylvia.
Appearance: Very smart, not quite a flapper but very chic. She has recently got her father’s barber to bob her brown hair short and it’s gone in to curls. Has a thing for hats.
Personality: Kind, quiet until she needs to speak up. Implacable at righting wrongs. Funny. Likes slapstick comedy at the flicks. Very bad at knitting.
Like Sylvia, Lucy wasn’t a difficult character to come up with. She’s a very straightforward sort of person and unlike Sylvia, she doesn’t really have mysterious hidden depths. Her depths are the quite usual ones of initially appearing very young and quiet but having the fortitude to step up and do what’s necessary.
That’s why she pushed to serve overseas in 1915. Red Cross VAD nurses (the Voluntary Aid Detachment) were supposed to be twenty-three before they were assigned to overseas service and Lucy was only twenty. Lucy felt very strongly that France was where she was supposed to be and with the help of her mother, who knew a woman who knew a woman, she was sent to the Royaumont Women’s Hospital. She served there as an orderly for three years doing everything from scrubbing floors to emptying bedpans to holding men’s hands as they died.
It was a great shock when she arrived and she really thought she might have made a mistake. She’s a well brought up girl from a wealthy, old family and she’d never even made her own bed before she went to France. But she pulled herself together and got on with it and really felt she made a difference.
Now the war is over she doesn’t know what she wants to do with herself. She’s lucky her parents are a bit eccentric and open-minded and are simply happy if she’s happy.
Going to visit Sylvia seems like a good idea. Sylvia needs help sorting out her ramshackle house. And Lucy has time, she likes sorting things out and putting things straight and organising. She enjoys Sylvia’s company and after all, what else is there to do?
Publisher: JMS Books LLC
Editor: Lourenza Adlem
Release date: 14 Aug 2014
Word Count: 50,000 words
Genre: Sapphic, found-family, historical, paranormal romantic mystery set in 1920s England.
Content Warning: Mention of domestic violence.
The quiet village of Bradfield should offer Dr Sylvia Marks the refuge she seeks when she returns home from her time in a field hospital in France in 1918. However, she is still haunted by the disappearance of her ambulance-driver lover two years previously, and settling down as a village doctor is more difficult than she realised it would be after the excitement of front-line medicine. Then curious events at a local farm, mysterious lights and a hallucinating patient’s strange illness make her revisit her assessment of Anna’s death on the battlefield.
Lucille Hall-Bridges is at a loose end now her nursing work is finished. She felt useful as a nurse and now she really doesn’t know what to do with her life. She hopes going to stay with her friend Sylvia for a while will help her find a way forward. And if that involves staying at Bradfield with Sylvia…then that’s fine with her.
Will the arrival of Lucy at Bradfield be the catalyst that allows both women to lay their wartime stresses to rest? Can Sylvia move on from her love affair with Anna and find happiness with Lucy, or is she still too entwined in the unresolved endings of the past?
The first in the Bradfield trilogy, set in the Border Magic universe.
About A. L. Lester
Writer of queer, paranormal, historical, romantic suspense, mostly. Lives in the South West of England with Mr AL, two children, a badly behaved dachshund, a terrifying cat, some hens and the duckettes. Likes gardening but doesn’t really have time or energy. Not musical. Doesn’t much like telly. Non-binary. Chronically disabled. Has tedious fits.
It was a beautiful late August day when Sylvia motored down to Taunton to collect Lucy from the railway station. The sun shone through the trees as she followed the lane down the hill from the village and the sky above was a beautiful summer blue. She had left the all-weather hood of the Austin down and wore a scarf and gloves against the wind, topping her trouser outfit off with her new hat, which she pinned firmly to the neat coil of her long hair.
Walter had watched her fussing with her appearance in the hall mirror, stuffing his pipe. “Are you sweet on her?” he asked, somewhat acerbically.
“It’ll be cold with the hood down,” she said, crushingly.
“Yes, yes, so it will be.” He turned his attention back to his tobacco, face straight. “Be careful on the bends.”
“I will,” she said. “She’s a beast to drive, smooth on the straights and handles well on the corners, but I’ve no desire to end up in the ditch.”
She’d bought the big Austin coupe late last winter when she’d got fed up riding her motorcycle out to some of the more remote houses she was called to in the dreadful weather. It was huge, far bigger than she needed really, although the back seat was useful to transport a patient if she had to. She still preferred her ‘cycle, but it wasn’t exactly suitable as a doctor’s vehicle. Not very staid at all. The Austin wasn’t very staid either, in that it was huge and expensive; but one of the benefits of a private income was that she could afford it; and so why not be comfortable?
She pondered all this and more on the drive down to Taunton, mind floating along with no real purpose. She loved to drive and for some reason it calmed her thoughts and allowed them to drift.
It would be lovely to see Lucy again. As Walt had said, she was a sweet little thing. Although Sylvia didn’t want to revisit the grim minutiae of some of the worst times at Royaumont, it would be lovely to reminisce about some of their happier moments of camaraderie. It had been four years of extreme stress and grim terror lightened with moments of laughter and fun. Working with a team of competent women all pulling together for one purpose had been extraordinary. She’d never experienced anything like it before and she doubted she would again. She was delighted some of the staff had set up a regular newsletter so they could all stay connected.
And so what if Lucy was sweet on her. Sylvia wasn’t interested in that kind of complication anymore. She didn’t want to cause gossip in the village for a start…although she supposed people wouldn’t make any assumptions about two women living together these days after so many men hadn’t come home from France. But anyway, even if it wouldn’t cause gossip, she didn’t think about Lucy like that. And she doubted Lucy thought about Sylvia like that, despite Walter’s teasing. He was stirring the pot a little to see what bubbled up, that was all.
Those musings took her to the station.
The train was on time and was just pulling in as she got out of the car. She walked out onto the platform as the smoke was clearing and through the clouds, she made out Lucy.
She was beside the guard’s van, directing the guard and porters to what seemed like an unnecessarily large pile of luggage. Despite the clement August weather, she was wearing an extremely smart velvet coat with a fur collar over a beautiful travelling suit that hung to mid calf, topped with an extraordinary confection of a hat.
She looked competent and sophisticated and exceptionally beautiful. Not at all the slightly scapegrace young person of 1916 who had persuaded the hospital powers-that-be she was a suitable candidate for France, although she’d been only twenty-one and inexperienced as a nurse.