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Sunday, October 21, 2018

What Makes My Heart Beat Faster by Lorna Gray - Guest Post & Giveaway

About Lorna Gray

I have a strong relationship with the past just like Eleanor, the heroine of debut novel In the Shadow of Winter. My inspiration to write about 1940s Britain comes from the traces that still live around us today. It comes from the tales that my elderly neighbours tell, and from the details and contradictions that have been recorded from a time we know so much about and yet no two people ever describe it in quite the same way.

This is what first inspired me to write In the Shadow of Winter and to set the intensely emotional adventure that unfolds within it, with all of its danger, romance and mystery, in the winter of 1947.

My exploration of the post-war period is continuing with The War Widow and The Antique Dealer’s Daughter. I'm married and I live in the Cotswolds, UK.


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What makes my heart beat faster 
Guest post by Lorna Gray

I have been asked to describe what makes my heart beat faster, and at the moment of writing this, I have to say the prize goes to the memory of the mad drive I had today around the outskirts of the English town of Swindon.

I was travelling there to deliver a talk. I’d set off in good time. In fact, if everything had gone to plan, I would have arrived about twenty minutes early. I had a map, I had an address. And it all went wrong at the moment I realised that, unlike my map, Swindon on the ground is an uncontained, illogical, car-hungry beast. 

My mistake was to presume that my destination (which had once been a small quaint village) would be signposted. It was, but only at the point of leaving the main road. (There was some evidence that the bulk of the village was in fact buried under the modern main road) 

I also presumed, again wrongly, that it would be easy to spot the surviving High Street of this village (which definitely did exist as the community hall I was aiming for was nearby). 

At first, the High Street was camouflaged as a dingy side street. Then it was blocked by a section that admitted access to no one except buses and taxis on pain of death, impoundment or a small fine. There was a large and unnavigable industrial area somewhere around there too. And a set of traffic lights masquerading as a pedestrian crossing just so that I might miss the crucial last turn to my destination.

Anyway, the point where this made my heart beat faster wasn’t just the madness of finally getting there with seconds to spare. It’s the fact that it has been at meetings like these that I have gathered my best inspiration. 

You see, my novels are set in the period just after the Second World War. I write about that astonishing time when young women shook off the dust of war and set about deciding what track they wanted to put their lives on now that peace had come. Those women are old now and frequently belong to the groups I visit. 

My latest novel, The Antique Dealer’s Daughter, was inspired by just such an encounter. I met a woman who was a child at the outbreak of war. She was still at school and she lived with her parents in London. She was too old to be evacuated but too young to be called up to the war effort. And her experiences opened my eyes to that forgotten generation of girls who bravely stepped up to the task of doing all the mundane work in shops and offices after the courageous older women went off to fill the munitions factories and the Land Army. Meeting this woman gave my heroine Emily Sutton her voice, her unique point of view. 

At the time of stepping into my novel, Emily is twenty-one, the war is over but she has the memory of the life she led after abandoning her disrupted lessons in a dingy air-raid shelter for a daily journey to work in Knightsbridge. Emily watched through dirty bus windows as day by day the bold London landmarks that had charted her youth fell prey to the destructive power of the Blitz. And, fundamentally, she felt powerless. 

She was witness daily to the effects of conflict, without ever having much chance to influence it. 
Now though, in the summer of 1947, the war has been over for nearly two years. The recent past has grown a little brighter; a little clearer, and Emily has decided that it is time to take her life off its war footing, and try to find what hope this adult life can bring. The tricky part for her is that, just like my trip in the car today, nothing ever quite goes as she thinks it should. 

She is constrained by tradition. She is considered a daughter, a bystander and a wife in waiting (if only she would do what women of her age ought to do and tamely do what she is told). This book is her journey to be more than the antique dealer’s daughter and claim her identity for herself – Emily Sutton. And since no 1940s setting would be complete without a spot of vintage intrigue, Emily’s own heart is made to race by a brush with an old scandal surrounding the rumours of a lost hoard of wartime spoils and a man who might just understand the struggle she has to be heard. 

Captain Richard Langton is fighting a hard and private battle in the midst of the newfound peace. Can Emily help him and in the process find herself? Only time will tell. I hope you will join her. 


One very lucky reader of With Love for Books will receive signed paperback copies of The War Widow and The Antique Dealer’s Daughter by Lorna Gray.

The winner will be notified by email and has 3 days to respond. All of our giveaways are international.


  1. Great guest post. I have a mad drive most days.

  2. Would love to win these books for my Mum who reads a lot.

  3. I love reading books set in that era.They sound amazing.

  4. Fantastic era, and a great-sounding read, thanks xx

  5. I love reading books set in this period of time! Thanks for sharing x

  6. The books sound great. Love the covers.

  7. Both of these books have caught my attention, I'm sure I'd enjoy reading them.

  8. Lorna, it was a pleasure meeting you and learning about your books.

    1. Wonderful! It was great to meet you. Good luck!

  9. Awesome guest post, thank you for sharing!

  10. I really enjoyed reading the guest post, thank you!

  11. The books sound really atmospheric, can't wait to read them!

  12. Sounds amazing! I'm so excited to read them.

  13. These sound really enjoyable books

  14. These sound great. Love reading novels which are set just after the war and seeing how the characters rebuild their lives. Definitely off on my TBR pile.

  15. Have not read any of Lorna's books before but am just getting into historical fiction and would love these, thank you

  16. Thanks for the great prize and competition. Good luck everyone!

  17. I really love your covers!

  18. I love your book covers, especially The War Widow.

  19. These books sound awesome! I love stories set in that time period. The covers are great too! Thanks for the chance to win!

  20. Both my Mum & Dad grew up during the war, he in Liverpool and she in a tiny Welsh village. His memories were of crying when he was evacuated and running away from his foster family, while hers were of a family trying to cope with up to 6 evacuees. We really don't know how lucky we are.