Readers' letters


Lilian Harry's books are published by Orion- (Orion)

Burracombe Village Series:

The Bells of Burracombe (first published in 2006)

The first of a series set in a fictional Devon village in the 1950s. Here you will meet and soon grow to love (or hate!) such characters as the Tozer family on their farm, the Napiers who live in the Barton and own most of the land in the area, the vicar Basil Harvey who lives in fear of being late, bossy Joyce Warren and old Jacob Prout, who keeps the village tidy. And, for lovers of the April Grove  books, the answer to what happened to little Stella and Muriel Simmons, who were orphaned during the war.

Read the first chapter online: Bells of Burracombe, or listen to an audio clip read by Helen Ayres here:
Click here to listen to the audio clip

A Stranger in Burracombe
(first published in January 2007)

What happens when Jennifer Tucker visits Burracombe – and what is the link between her and Jacob Prout?

Listen to an audio clip read by Helen Ayres here:
Click here to listen to the audio clip

Storm Over Burracombe (first published in July 2007)

Hilary Napier, whom life has not treated kindly, is furious when her domineering father, the Squire, decides to bring in a farm manager. Will she stay, or will she leave? And if she stays, will she and Travis Kellaway ever become friends?

Springtime in Burracombe published in July 2009

It’s 1953 and Burracombe is preparing to celebrate the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. As always, there will be fun and surprises along the way – and a shock for Hilary Napier which promises to change her life for ever.

 An Heir For Burracombe published August 2010

Who is the young woman who arrives unexpectedly on the doorstep of the Barton – and what is her claim on the estate? And what are young Micky and Henry doing down a mine?

Secrets In Burracombe ~NEW for 2011~ It is the Autumn of 1953 and the Village is delighted when Joe Tozer - who left home as a young man in 1919 - returns to visit his family. His life since emigrating to the States has been a world away from rural Devon, but coming home, he falls in love with the place - and one particular person - all over again.

A Song at Twilight

Wartime again, this time in Devon as RAF pilot’s wife Alison joins her husband at Harrowbeer Airfield, near Plymouth and makes friends with local girl May - as well as Polish pilot Stefan. You will also meet characters from Under The Apple Tree in this book.

Read the first chapter here: A Song at Twilight


April Grove Series (A Street At War)

Goodbye Sweetheart

The first Lilian Harry, and one which set the tone for all the following books and remains one of the most popular. It is 1939 and the Budd family, in Portsmouth, are facing war in an important naval port. Frank Budd works in the Naval Dockyard and his wife Jess, pregnant with her fourth child,  faces the dilemma of whether to accept evacuation with the rest of her children or stay at home to look after her husband. The evacuees themselves find their lives turned upside down – some happily, some not. The story ends with Dunkirk - and  a wedding in April Grove

The Girls They Left Behind

As April Grove faces the destruction wrought by the Blitz, the Budds and their neighbours wrestle with their own personal dilemmas. Betty Chapman, already secretly engaged to local boy Graham Philpott, joins the Land Army and finds herself working alongside a man who makes her question everything she has ever believed in, while Nacny Baxter offers comfort to lonely sailors, and her young son Micky runs wild through the shattered streets, courting death every night.

Keep Smiling Through

It is 1941 and the people of April Grove are beginning to feel the war will never end. Jess Budd is coping with life at home in Portsmouth, while her two  evacuated sons learn different ways in the country.  Betty faces conflict at home through her love for Dennis, who proves that being a conscientious objector does not mean being a coward, while Carol Glaister’s bid to escape her carping mother has far-reaching consequences and Micky Baxter, yearning to be a hero, nearly brings tragedy to them all. Yet even in these dark days there is still joy to be found, and the story ends with a wedding that touches the stoniest heart.

Moonlight and Lovesongs

The fourth of the original April Grove quartet brings the Budd family and their neighbours to the joyful end of the war, though not without sadness and heartache on the way as German bombers strafe women and children in the streets and Olive Harker, working on a searchlight, finds her loyalty to her husband Derek tested to its limits. Meanwhile, Americans have arrived in Portsmouth and Diane Shaw is only too ready to welcome them. And then, just when the bombing seems to be over, the doodlebugs begin….

Tuppence to Spend

The first of the three ‘Sammy’ stories, TuppenceTo Spend takes us back to April Grove at the beginning of the war. Dan Hodges, does his best to look after his ailing wife and two sons despite his long working  hours in Portsmouth Dockyard but when tearaway Gordon is sent to an approved school 7-year-old Sammy is left to bear the brunt of her care. Her death leaves him alone in the house for much of the time until neighbours intervene and he is evacuated to the village of Bridge End, where young, childless widow Ruth Purslow takes him to her heart. The story reaches its climax when Dan, lonelier than he ever believed possible, tries to take him home and Sammy determines to find his way back.

Read the first chapter here: Tuppence to Spend

A Farthing Will Do

It is Christmas 1944 and the world is hoping for an end to the long years of war. Ruth Purslow, at Bridge End, faces the possibility of losing Sammy Hodges, the boy she has come to love as her own, and has resigned herself to remaining a widow. Her niece Lizzie, whose husband Alec is a prisoner of war, has found her loyalty severely tested by the American Floyd, from the nearby air station, and now faces one of the most difficult dilemmas a woman can face. And through it all, Ruth’s parrot, Silver, has something to say for every occasion.

Read the first chapter here: A Farthing Will Do

A Penny A Day

Although this is the third in the ‘Sammy’ trilogy, it also comes within the Burracombe series and is best read after Storm Over Burracombe

Under the Apple Tree

This book tells the story of the Taylor family, who arrive in April Grove after being bombed out during the night of the most ferocious Blitz over Portsmouth in January 1941. Judith finds her local government job relocated to a hotel on the front at Southsea, where she meets a young plane-spotter who spends his days on the roof of the hotel, watching for enemy aircraft. But before their relationship can develop, Judith is badly hurt in another bombing raid and sent to the countryside to recover, believing that she will never find love now.

Under the Apple Tree - listen to an audio clip read by Honeysuckle Weeks here
Click here to listen to the audio clip (please see author's note at bottom of page)

Dance Little Lady

Work at Priddy’s Hard, the great naval armament  depot at Gosport, on the shore of Portsmouth Harbour, is hard and dangerous, but Kate, Sally, Maxine and Elsie still find time and energy to enjoy themselves, for in wartime every day is precious. Yet  beneath their careless laughter, each of them nurses a secret: Kate believes that she brings bad luck to any man who cares for her, while Maxine has discovered something which turns her bitterly against her parents. Elsie is grieving over the loss of her son, killed in the Blitz, while spirited young Sally has lied about her age and risks a different sort of danger amongst the gunpowder and the shells.

Dance Little Lady
Read the first chapter online and listen to an audio clip read by Honeysuckle Weeks here
Click here to listen to the audio clip

Love and Laughter

This ‘stand-alone’ book is set in both Portsmouth and Plymouth, where Lucy has survived the bombing and managed to run a small guest house near Plymouth Hoe. She looks forward to the return of her husband Wilmot, who has spent years as a Japanese prisoner of war, but whe he returns she can barely recognise him as the happy-go-lucky sailor who marched so bravely to war in 1939. And what will become of David, who stood so staunch;ly beside her all those years and now faces a life of loneliness?

Love and Laughter explores the immediate aftermath of the war, when ‘love and laughter and peace ever after’ was the promise, and the reality so very different.

Three Little Ships

Arguably Lilian Harry’s most powerful book, this is the story of Dunkirk, from the order ‘Every man for himself’ to the moment when the last ship makes landfall at Ramsgate with its cargo of  exhausted soldiers. The three little ships of the title are all based on authentic vessels which took part in that great rescue – a London fireboat, a small pleasure steamer from the River Dart, in Devon, and a private motor yacht from Bosham. As each one ferries exhausted men from the beaches to the waiting ships, those aboard these little ships are untied by a powerful force – the need to find one man who matters to them more than anyone else. Ollie Mears, aboard the fireboat, is searching for his son, Joe; Robby Endacott, commanding  the steamer, is looking for his brother Bill; while aboard the motor-yacht, Toby, together with a retired admiral and a young girl stowaway,  is hoping to rescue his brother Alex. Their search is played out against the drama of the chaotic beaches of Dunkirk, while the stories of the soldiers themselves shed a different light on the whole event, and even amongst the heroism and the joy,  for some the story must end in tragedy.

Read the prologue here: Three Little Ships and listen to an audio clip read by Jamie Glover here
Click here to listen to the audio clip

Wives and Sweethearts

Another ‘stand-alone’ novel, this is set in the 1960s and tells the story of two young women who commit themselves to life as Naval wives. Clare marries her sailor and leaves Portsmouth to move to Devon, to cope with life as the mother of two young children, often alone for months or even years as her husband goes to sea, while Kathy struggles with her love for two very different men, a struggle which  brings heartache and disaster.

Corner House Series:

Corner House Girls
Kiss The Girls Goodbye
PS. I Love You - read the first chapter online here: PS. I Love You

The Corner House trilogy tells the story of six ‘Nippies’ – those much-loved waitresses of the famous Lyons’ Corner Houses in London, from their first days as trainees in 1937 to the end of the war, when their lives have turned in directions they could never have dreamed of. From the glamorous setting of those great restaurants to the muntions factories of Bedfordshire, and from the mining valleys of South Wales to  the forests of Shropshire, Jo, Phyl, Ettie and  the others find themselves swept along by events far beyond their control.

Thursday series
A Girl Called Thursday - read the first chapter online
A Promise To Keep - read the first chapter online

When Thursday volunteers as a VAD nurse, she does not expect to end up in love with a doctor at Haslar Hospital on the shores of Portsmouth Harbour, and neither does she expect to find herself in Egypt. Yet she takes all this in her stride, learning to cope with servicemen with horrific wounds as well as find her own way in life. Based on the story of a real-life VAD, Thursday has become a much-loved character in Lilian Harry’s books.

Three Great NovelsTHREE GREAT NOVELS -

If you haven't already met the families of April Grove in Portsmouth, this is the book to take on holiday this summer. The first three tales of Jess and Frank Budd and their family and neighbours as they live through the years of World War 2 are all here in one fat paperback volume. at the price of £9.99 - what a bargain! All you will need then is the final, single volume of Moonlight & Lovesongs to complete the set.

In Association with Amazon.co.uk

Under the Apple Tree - author's correction
Embarrassing moment! While listening to the CD version of Under The Apple Tree, read by Honeysuckle Weeks, I realised with horror that I had made a serious mistake in the relationship between Judy and her cousin Sylvie - and, apart from two instances, had referred to them throughout as aunt and niece! One sharp-eyed reader also spotted this and emailed to tell me, and Orion have agreed that this must be corrected in future reprints. However, there is nothing to be done about those copies already in circulation, or about the CD, so I hope that if you haven't read or heard the book yet, you will be able, mentally, to substitute the correct term - and think of me, cringing with embarrassment.

And if you have already read or heard it - please forgive this lapse. I do try very hard to get all my facts rights, and Orion also check pretty thoroughly, but this one slipped past everyone.