Every year on Remembrance Sunday my village holds a moving ceremony. The names of all the soldiers killed in two World Wars are read out, wreaths are laid on the Memorial Fountain and the Last Post is sounded after the Silence. We acknowledge the unlived lives these men sacrificed in answering the call to arms. As a child of the Second World War, I know only too well the emotional cost to families of enforced separation.
A few years ago I became aware of other villages in the country where war memorials were absent and the campaign to restore the names of executed soldiers onto cenotaphs lead to disputes. The campaign for such men to be exonerated and acknowledged is well documented in the media now.
What I couldn’t find out was the effect on living families of having a relative “shot at dawn”, as it was termed. My story evolved from an exploration of how this might affect two village families into the next generation, how secrets were kept at such a cost, how villagers could divide into two camps and the feelings of the soldiers themselves. In the middle of this were two young lovers separated first by class and then by war but finally by family secrets. This is their story.
Remembrance Day (Avon/HarperCollins) is short listed for the Pure Passion People's Choice awards 2010. Voting is at www.lovereading.co.uk. The winner will be announced at the Romantic Novelists Association lunch in London on Tuesday March 16th.