The Walls We Build
Three friends …
Growing up together around Winston Churchill’s estate in Westerham, Kent, Frank, Florence and Hilda are inseparable. But as WW2 casts its menacing shadow, friendships between the three grow complex, and Frank – now employed as Churchill’s bricklayer – makes choices that will haunt him beyond the grave, impacting his grandson’s life too.
Two Secrets …
Shortly after Frank’s death in 2002 Florence writes to Richard, Frank’s grandson, hinting at the darkness hidden within his family. On investigation, disturbing secrets come to light, including a pivotal encounter between Frank and Churchill during the war and the existence of a mysterious relative in a psychiatric hospital.
One Hidden Life …
How much more does Florence dare reveal about Frank – and herself – and is Richard ready to hear?
Set against the stunning backdrop of Chartwell, Churchill’s country home, comes a tragic story of misguided honour, thwarted love and redemption, reverberating through three generations and nine decades.
For readers of Kate Morton, Rachel Hore, Katherine Webb, Lucinda Riley and Juliet West.
“Passion, intrigue and family secrets drive this complex wartime relationship drama. A page turner. I loved it.” #1 bestselling author, Nicola May
Jules Hayes lives in Berkshire with her husband, daughter and a dog. She has a degree in modern history and holds a particular interest in events and characters from the early 20th century. As a former physiotherapist and trainer – old habits die hard – when not writing Jules likes to run. She also loves to watch films, read good novels and is a voracious consumer of non-fiction too, particularly biographies.
Jules is currently working on her second historical novel, another dual timeline story.
Jules also writes contemporary thriller and speculative fiction as JA Corrigan.
Jules Hayes can be found at:
Twitter @JulesHayes6 – http://www.twitter.com/JulesHayes6
Facebook Author Page: JulesHayesAuthor – http://www.facebook.com/JulesHayesAuthor
Instagram: JulesHayes6 – http://www.instagram.com/juleshayes6
Writing as JA Corrigan, Jules can be found at: Website: http://www.jacorrigan.com
Twitter: @juliannwriter – http://www.twitter.com/juliannwriter
Facebook Author Page: JA Corrigan – http://www.facebook.com/jacorrigan
Instagram: corriganjulieann http://www.instagram.com/corriganjulieann
This is a section taken from the 2002 thread and is in Richard’s viewpoint – Frank’s grandson – as he begins his quest to unravel the mystery surrounding his recently deceased grandad’s past.
Richard had reached the outskirts of his grandad’s old allotment. He slowed and began walking in between the individual plots, the autumnal mud sticking to his expensive trainers. Finally he arrived at Frank’s. It looked sad and overgrown, made worse when compared to the neat well-kept plots surrounding it.
The allotment sat on the edge, secluded from the others. The wall that Frank had built back in the late 1930s helped it be more delineated, and protected. Frank had always liked his privacy. Keeping people out, perhaps keeping himself in. Richard sat on his grandad’s wall and peered at the Wendy house – the Marycot – as Frank sometimes called it. Richard had always been intrigued with Frank’s stories about Churchill: his bricklaying, his painting, his writing, reading, his general polymathy. He stared sadly at the newly landscaped pit tip.
Since he’d received the letter from the council, he’d thought it would be a sorrowful day, the day his grandad’s constructions were knocked down. Even after Frank’s unexpected first stroke, when his ability to move and talk was minimal, the old man had made it clear he wanted to keep the allotment in the family, and Richard had kept the allotment, but it had lain unused since Frank’s first stroke.
Why had Frank been so adamant to keep it? Nostalgia, probably.
A deep growly voice brought him away from his thoughts. Richard looked up. ‘Yes.
‘Don’t you remember me, lad?’
‘Mr Lambert? Jeff? Of course I do. Great to see you again. How long’s it been?’
Richard slipped off the wall. He remembered Jeff from his and Frank’s visits to the allotment all those years ago. Frank had tried to stay away from people in the village and had made a point of avoiding them. Richard though, did remember Jeff Lambert. He and his grandad would sometimes bump into him. Jeff hadn’t changed that much, still lean, visibly older, but recognisable.
‘Long time ago,’ Jeff replied. ‘When you used to come here with Frank. I was at your grandad’s funeral, the church and the cemetery afterwards, but we didn’t talk, lad.’
‘Sorry about that. It was a busy day. You weren’t at my grandma’s funeral, were you? I didn’t see you. Sorry, if you thought I’d ignored you.’
You didn’t, lad. I wasn’t there. I wasn’t in touch with your gran.’
Richard plucked a memory of a vague story about Jeff’s dad, Hugh Lambert, and his grandfather too, Rod. Frank hadn’t got on with either of the men. Hugh Lambert had died in the war from what he remembered, and when Jeff was just a baby. Rod had died before the war. Richard didn’t really know the full story as to why Frank didn’t like the Lambert family, although now he possessed the greatest desire to know.
‘How are you?’ Richard asked politely.
‘I’m all right. A few more years left in me yet.’ Jeff surveyed the allotment, the wall and Wendy house. ‘Your grandad liked to build. Loved his bricklaying. My grandma told me that a group of allotment owners wanted him to get rid of all this.’ He gesticulated. ‘But he were having none of it. Frank built them back in the days when you didn’t need planning permission. No one liked messin’ with Frank, my gran told me.’
Richard now did retrieve something. The mind of a barrister. A fight between Frank and Hugh. Before the war. ‘Go on, Jeff.’
‘Your gran’s gone now… there was talk about a girl, a daughter back before the war.’
Christ, why was this info popping up now? Probably because Hilda was dead. No one had mentioned anything and now information was pounding at him from every direction. He didn’t immediately address the subject of his grandparents’ mysterious daughter. ‘Frank and Hugh had a fight, didn’t they? Before the war?’ Around the time Anna was taken to High Royal, Richard calculated quickly.
‘Jesus, I can’t be that precise,’ Jeff said. ‘But yes, acrimony between my dad, Hugh, and my grandad Rod and your grandad I reckon, according to my gran.’
How in God’s name had Anna remained a secret? Was that why Frank and Hilda had moved house and village? He looked directly at Jeff. ‘Did my dad ever say anything to you… about the girl?’
‘No, never. I remember my own mum saying something. And my auntie. I can’t say it was mentioned much, but my auntie, my dad’s sister, spoke about a girl. She was friends with her when they were kids, before your gran and grandad moved from the village.
‘Does your auntie live locally?’
‘Rosy? No, she moved down to Bodmin in Cornwall back in the early sixties. Disconnected from the family. I haven’t seen her for years.’
Richard could almost feel the synapses snapping into newly formed pathways of reasoning inside his brain. He’d ask his researcher, Nell, to look Rosy up, find a number for her. Rosy knew Anna as a child; she would know something.
Jeff nodded towards the Wendy house and carried on, ‘It’d explain that? Maybe the girl died and your grandad and gran wanted to forget about it all?’
‘I think you’ve got the facts a bit mixed up, to be honest,’ Richard lied. ‘Anyway, if that was the case surely Frank would have got rid of the Wendy house?’ He pried for information.
‘Get off! Jim, your dad, and his brother loved playing in it!’
Richard pasted a smile on his face. ‘It’s great to see you again, Jeff. Take care of yourself.’
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