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NELLIE’S WARBuy this book

Nellie's War

A Cockney saga brimming with the unforgettable characters of the music halls, who cheered Londoners through the dark nights of the Blitz

Stumbling from the bombed wreckage of Barratts’ Orphanage, Islington, sixteen-year-old Vicky Hobson can’t even remember her name. The runaway evacuees who give her shelter call her Nellie, the only girl in ‘Toff’ Hecht’s gang, until, yet again, tragedy strikes and she is forced to move on.

But when Nellie meets the great music hall illusionists, Monsieur and Madame Pierre – alias Bert and Doris Beckwith and her life begins again. Amongst the bright lights and the grease paint she finds a whole new family. But even as she is happily stitching costumes backstage, Nellie can’t stop thinking about her old life, and more particularly, about the restless young Jewish boy, ‘Toff’ Hecht...

"To Nellie, the auditorium of this lovely music hall was truly beautiful to look at. The curtains were scarlet and gold, and looked dazzling in the glare of the spotlights. When the lights finally went down, Nellie was in such a high state of excited anticipation, she thought she would never last until the interval before having to go out to the Ladies. But as soon as a bright white spotlight picked out the arrival of the orchestra conductor in his long black tails, bow tie, and white carnation, her worry vanished. Suddenly, the orchestra was playing a riotous overture of ‘Here We Are, Here We Are, Here We Are Again!’ and as one, the whole audience joined in the chorus. Nellie had to fight her way through the audience hurrying out of the theatre. Everyone was in a state of shock and seemed too dazed to get out of the way to allow the Civil Defence and other emergency services to get through. The street itself was nothing less than sheer chaos, for hardly a building had escaped the V-2 explosion…"
‘Warm and entertaining...brimming with the atmosphere of wartime London’ Coventry Evening Telegraph
‘A very readable story and the style pleasant… I can recommend this book for people who are interested in life during the London Blitz: the descriptions of air raids and the damage caused by them are very realistic. A good read.’ The Historical Novel Society Magazine, May 1998