Don’t expect an easy ride when you pick up one of Mary Wood’s gripping historical novels.
Wood worked in the probation service in both Lancaster and Blackpool and her hard-hitting, emotional stories reflect life in all its gritty, grim reality.
The thirteenth child of fifteen to a middle-class mother and an East End barrow boy, her childhood of ‘love and poverty’ gave her a natural empathy with the less fortunate and a lifelong fascination with social history.
Now a grandmother and great-grandmother, Wood’s exciting tales of romance and adventure proved an e-book hit and now the print versions are hitting the market.
Time Passes Time – a spin-off from her popular Breckton trilogy – moves between the Second World War and the East End of London in the early 1960s.
The story of a young woman who leaves behind a raft of guilty secrets in England to join the Special Operations Executive as an undercover agent in France is as uncompromising in its depiction of wartime brutality as it is heartbreaking in its tender portrayal of love under fire.
In 1941, the world is at war and 30-year-old Theresa Crompton is left devastated after giving up her newborn illegitimate daughter. Flirtatious, sensual and reckless, she has been involved in a shocking love affair and another illicit romance which ended in tragedy.
Sick with shame at the course of her life so far, Theresa wants to prove her worth so volunteers to work with the SOE as a spy behind enemy lines in France. Her mission is to assist a Resistance group run by the handsome Pierre Rueben and it’s not long before they fall in love.
Soon Theresa becomes pregnant but Pierre is Jewish and, under extreme circumstances, she is torn apart from their beloved son Jacques. Will she ever see him again?
In London in 1963, Theresa, now frail, lonely and older than her years, is haunted by her experiences during the war and the loss of her two children.
When she becomes the victim of a cruel mugging, her damaged mind tangles the past with the present and she feels she has to make a terrifying decision.
Meanwhile, her long-lost children – one still resentful over being abandoned at birth and the other determined to find his roots – have questions that only their mother can answer. Will Theresa be reunited with them before it’s too late?
Wood is a born storyteller not afraid to tackle emotive and sometimes uncomfortable themes. Time Passes Time is an earthy, action-packed tale full of bravery, pathos, passion and adventure, all set in one of history’s most turbulent chapters.
Expect the unexpected in a romance with a dark, disturbing edge…
(Pan, paperback, £6.99)