Hetty’s Secret War by Rosie Clarke
About the author
Rosie is happily married and lives in a quiet village in East Anglia. Writing books is a passion for Rosie, she also likes to read, watch good films and enjoys holidays in the sunshine. She loves shoes and adores animals, especially squirrels and dogs.
About the book
In 1939, with the world on the brink of war, one women faces a future more uncertain than she had ever imagined...
Living in Paris, with the threat of war becoming all the more imminent, Hetty knows if she wants to stay safe, she must make her way home immediately. So she makes her way to the ports, hoping to secure one of the last places on the boats headed for England. But on her way she finds newly orphaned little girl who needs her help, and care.
And so Hetty, with little Kristina, finds herself sheltering at Chateau de Faubourg, where they
are both welcomed by Countess de Faubourg and her dashing son Pierre... But the gilded walls of the Chateau hide secret war work of the most dangerous kind - but Hetty knows she owes it to the gami Beth - orphaned as a child, Beth is coming of age and determined to do
her bit for the war effort.
Caught up in a whirlwind romance, she marries only to become a war widow....and one
expecting a baby who will never know his brave father. Can she find happiness again? Hetty desperately trying to make her way back from Paris to her beloved family in England, a fateful and tragic encounter brings Hetty to Chateau de Faubourg where she joins the resistance and risks both her heart and her life fighting for charismatic resistance leader Stefan Lefarge...
However dark the times, courage, determination and the power of friendship can overcome the hardships of war.
The church clock was chiming the hour as Georgie heard the stairs creaking and went out into the hall to greet her guest. Everything creaked in this old but much-loved house and it was impossible for anyone to come down without announcing their
arrival. She turned to look at the young woman; Beth was Annabel’s protégé and adopted daughter, because she’d taken her in after Beth’s mother was murdered by Annabel’s first husband. Annabel’s marriage to Richard Hanson had been desperately
unhappy and Beth’s mother had blackmailed him but he’d had her murdered, though it was a secret that Beth did not share. She knew that her mother had been killed but Annabel would never tell her anything more. ‘What a charming dress,’ Georgie said as the young woman reached the bottom.
‘Where did you find that, Beth?’
The hall smelled faintly of flowers, some of it from a bowl of pot pourri on the well-polished oak hutch placed against the wall just outside Georgie’s front parlour, the rest from a large vase of sweet peas that she had picked from her garden earlier.
‘Hetty sent it for me from Paris,’ Beth Rawlings replied and crossed the hall to kiss her cheek, not from habit or duty but affection. She was rather worried about her friend at the moment because she knew Georgie was struggling to keep her spirits up in the face of her husband’s latest illness. ‘Isn’t it lovely?’ She did a little twirl to show off the movement of the beautifully cut dress as it clung lovingly to her slender figure, flaring out at the hem. ‘Hetty sometimes designs things for that fashion house, as you know, and Madame Arnoud lets her buy things for next to nothing. This dress
was left over from last season, but that doesn’t bother me in the least.’
Outside they could hear the drone of a light aircraft from the airfield some two miles distant. It seemed to circle overhead for a few minutes and then the noise faded away. Both were aware of a slight tension in the other but neither referred to the
noise, which was becoming more frequent of late. It seemed to bring home the threat of the war everyone said was inevitable.
‘I should just think not,’ Georgie said of the dress. ‘I would love to be able to buy something like that myself.’ It would make such a change from her habitual tweed skirts and twinsets, which fitted her way of life.
‘If you tell Annabel, she might be able to fix it up for you. She visited her sister last year, as you know, because she thought Hetty might want to come home now that she has left Henri, but of course she wouldn’t. Annabel isn’t thinking of going out again herself at the moment, not as things are, but Hetty said in her last letter that she might come home for a visit with us.’
At the age of seventeen, Hetty Tarleton had run away to Paris to live with Henri Claremont, who was a successful artist but a rather selfish man some years her senior.
Pleas from both her brother Ben and her sister, Annabel, had met with a deaf ear these past nine years. Hetty was settled in Paris and enjoying her life too much to think of giving it up.
‘It might be a good idea if she came sooner rather than later,’ Georgie said and looked anxious. ‘If this wretched war is on the cards as everyone says it must be, she could be in serious trouble. But I don’t suppose it’s any good Annabel telling her that,
of course. Hetty was always headstrong. Annabel suspected at the start that Henri would prove unreliable, but she couldn’t change things. Hetty was in love and Annabel had her own problems at the time.’
They had gravitated into the small but comfortable sitting room. Its furniture was perhaps a little shabby but well-tended and familiar, the scents of lavender and beeswax mixing with the fragrance of pine logs piled in the grate and the copper box
next to it. Papers and books lay on various tables, a sherry decanter and glasses took pride of place on the sideboard, and Georgie’s knitting was on her chair. Arthur preferred hand-knitted socks to any that could be bought in the shops. The sight of the
latest half-finished pair brought tears to her eyes, because she knew he might never wear them, and the thought of losing her dear friend was painful. Whatever else Arthur might have lacked, he had always been her good friend – and it was the reason she’d married him when she’d realised she could never have Ben. He’d promised to be patient and kind – and he had, always.
‘I know that Hetty can be very stubborn…’ Shadows clouded Beth’s eyes for a moment as she recalled that some of the problems Annabel had been dealing with at the time of Hetty’s elopement were because of her. ‘Annabel was afraid that she
would be unhappy and I think she was for some months before she finally made up her mind to leave Henri, but although she came home for a few days she wouldn’t stay.’
Beth was quite a tall girl, slim and graceful with dark hair and rather serious grey eyes. Her manner sometimes made her seem older than her nineteen years, perhaps because of things that had happened in the past. The old scandal of Alice Rawlings violent murder had been forgotten now by most, but Georgie thought that Beth had been more affected by her mother’s death than people realised.
She’d been fortunate to have her grandmother, but perhaps more so that Annabel had taken her into her own family. There were no formal adoption papers, but to all intents and purposes Beth was Paul and Annabel Keifer’s daughter and as much loved as their own two children, Paula and David.
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