- Historical Fiction
- Family Life
♥ Blurb ♥
London, 1926. Two baby girls are born just hours and miles apart. One you know as the Queen of England, but what of the other girl- the daughter of an undertaker named in her honour? Betsy Sunshine grows up surrounded by death in war-torn London, watching her community grieve for their loved ones whilst dealing with her own teenage troubles… namely her promiscuous sister Margie. As Betsy grows older we see the how the country changes through her eyes, and along the way we discover the birth of a secret that threatens to tear her family apart.
Sophie Duffy dazzles in her latest work of family/historical fiction. A tale which spans generations to explore the life and times of a family at the heart of their community, the story of a stoic young woman who shares a connection with her queenly counterpart in more ways than one…
♥ Interview ♥
- Where did the inspiration come from for your current book?
My great aunt was born in the same year as the queen and my main character, Betsy Sunshine. Auntie Ruth was a teenage Wren working on Enigma during the Second World War. I’ve been fascinated by that generation of women who fought on the Home Front, including my nan who was a young mother living through the Blitz in Bristol. The War plays an important part in this novel but actually, the story covers ninety years. I wanted to use the Queen as a framing device for Betsy’s life as they both approached their shared 90th birthday. Also, I’ve always been fascinated in graveyards and death rituals and perhaps missed my vocation as an undertaker. I wondered what it would be like to have a female undertaker with the inappropriate surname of Sunshine and that’s how Betsy came into being.
- Do you have a special ritual that you do when you finish writing a book?
A duvet day. Or possibly week.
- What has been your favourite read of 2018, so far?
I’ve been reading only novels by twentieth-century women writers over the last year and blogging about it on #100WomenNovelists. But I’ve broken the regime and am currently reading Kate Atkinson’s ‘Transcription’.
Could you, please share with us a photograph that tells a story?
- If you could pick three books that have influenced your life, what would they be and why?
‘The Mill on the Floss’ by George Eliot. I read this at school and it touched me deeply. Maggie Tulliver is such a force of life, living at the wrong time. But it’s a novel about love and family and duty.
‘The Life and Loves of a She Devil’ by Fay Weldon is like no other book. The simple language is so powerful and it deepened my Feminist principles.
‘The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole’ by Sue Townsend. What can I say? I grew up with Adrian. I love him. This book always cheers me up when I’m down.
- If your book had its own theme song, what would it be?
It would have to be ‘Bring me Sunshine’.
- If your book was made into a movie who would you like to play the main characters?
Alexa Davies to play young Betsy and Julie Walters to play older Betsy (yes, I’ve just watched ‘Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again’). Emma Watson to play the young queen, Claire Bloom the older queen (though I’m very much looking forward to seeing Olivia Colman in the next series of ‘The Crown’).
- Do you have any questions for your readers?
Have you thought about or planned for your funeral?
Lastly, if you could say something to your reader before they start your book what would it be?
Don’t be afraid of talking about death. It comes to us all.
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