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We'll Sing at Dawn

In the cold nights of the Blitz, her music warmed their hearts…

It’s October 1940. As the bombs rain down on the residents of Islington, eighteen-year-old Beth Shanks knows she must keep her chin up. With her dad away fighting, it’s up to Beth to help support the family, even though she and her mother don’t always see eye-to-eye. A trained pianist, Connie Shanks can’t understand why her daughter won’t learn to read music, and despairs of the popular songs Beth prefers to play by ear. Always fun-loving, Beth is known as ‘the firecracker’ at the munitions factory where she works alongside her boyfriend, Irish lad Thomas Sullivan.

But Thomas faces suspicion when rumours break that an Irish national has been spying for the Germans. When a heavy air raid forces Beth and her family into a public shelter, Beth lifts everyone’s spirits by belting out old favourites on an abandoned piano. Connie finally sees the joy her daughter’s music can bring, but she is unaware that it will one day save their lives…

"Beth Shanks stared up at the roof of the old factory cellar. The look in her eyes showed real fear. Were those ‘screamer’ bombs she could hear hurtling down through the night sky – did they have her name on them, and her mum, and the baby, and all her other neighbours who were spending yet another night of misery locked up in the bowels of the earth? As the menacing sound grew shrill and close, she closed her eyes, stiffened, and held her breath. Only after the deafening explosions came did she summon up enough courage to open her eyes and breathe a sigh of relief. Not tonight. Hell had broken loose for some other poor devils, but not for Beth and those sheltering alongside her. Not tonight. But the dust and small flakes of cement that were still floating down on to her upturned face showed what devastation those ‘screamers’ must have caused not so far away, for the whole shelter had shaken from end to end. But this was nothing new. Listening to all that mayhem outside had become such a nightly ritual for the residents of Hornsey Road that they were beginning to take it all in their stride. After all, this was October 1940, and by now the London Blitz had been in full swing for almost two months, with air raids taking place regularly by night and by day."
‘A London blitz story that captures the wartime spirit down to the last wail of the air raid siren. History with a heart on its sleeve.’ Steve Craggs, Northern Echo
‘There is copious local detail of the area, the shops and bus and tram routes, which evoke nostalgic memories for those who knew pre-war London. The atmosphere of fear and defiance is convincing.... This book will appeal to readers who want to live or relive those terrible times.’ Marina Oliver, The Historical Novels Review