When the War came, suddenly the sky was upon us all like a huge hawk hovering, threatening. Everyone was searching the sky waiting for some terror to fall.
Paul Nash, Aerial Flowers, 1945
Rosebay willowherb grew rapidly on bombsites in WWII. Often called Bombweed, its image conjured up the terror of the blitz and its aftermath; a reminder of the lifelong consequences of wartime loss and the choice to cling to, discard or lock away the memories of those who have disappeared from view in the fog of war.
Bombweed, by Gillian F Morton, tells the story of Vivienne, a naive teenager in 1938, who has to grow up in a world at war. Her family is shattered, like the buildings in her town, by the Luftwaffe. Vivienne and her sisters each seek ways to deal with devastating loss. Memories are destroyed, blotted out with drink and sex, or clung to obsessively. Houses can be repaired when peace comes, but the heart is a trickier matter. Vivienne knows that to recover she must reach into the dark past.
Available in paperback and as an ebook
paperback ISBN 9781781327975
ebook ISBN 978-1-78132-810-1
Available to order from all good bookshops, on-line retailers, or www.silverwoodbooks.co.uk from July 2018
One evening in 1947, Margaret Smith put her two daughters to bed and sat down at her typewriter. The war was over. Her husband, recently “demobbed” from the RAF, was away at college. Now she had time to write.
Over the following months she wrote the novel that was, eventually, to become “Bombweed”. She created a story of family tensions, love and loss, survival and recovery. Everything was drawn from her own experiences during the previous ten years, although she was always clear that it was not an autobiography. Her characters were amalgams of herself and her friends. The incidents really happened, though not necessarily to the people and in the places as told in the story.
In the late 1940s, publishers were not interested in Home Front stories. Their readers were too close to the real thing. They wanted heroics. Margaret wanted to remember the reality of wartime Britain; the struggles and fear, and the love and friendships that got them through. But when her husband came back from college, she became pregnant again, and her typescript was put away – but not forgotten.
Twenty years later, Margaret’s life had changed. Her youngest child had died, she had divorced her husband, and both her daughters were married. She had become a school teacher. Through all these changes, the manuscript lay safely on top of a wardrobe. She continued to hope that one day it would be published.
After her death her daughters inherited the typescript. Now, after four years editing, they feel Margaret’s story is ready for a 21st century reader. They hope they have done justice to their mother’s vision and talent.
Gillian Fernandez Morton