Our book club choice for October is Miss Carter's War, the debut novel from Sheila Hancock.
Sheila Hancock is one of Britain's most highly regarded and popular actors. She received an OBE for services to drama in 1974 and a CBE in 2011. Having published two bestselling memoirs, The Two of Us and Just Me, now, at the age of 81, she publishes her debut novel and proves to be a vibrant new voice in British fiction.
It is 1948 and Britain is struggling to recover from the Second World War. Half French, half English, Marguerite Carter, young and beautiful, has lost her parents and survived a terrifying war, working for the SOE behind enemy lines. Leaving her partisan lover she returns to England to be one of the first women to receive a degree from the University of Cambridge.
Now she pins back her unruly auburn curls, draws a pencil seam up her legs, ties the laces on her sensible black shoes, belts her grey gabardine mac and sets out towards her future as an English teacher in a girls’ grammar school. For Miss Carter has a mission – to fight social injustice, to prevent war and to educate her girls.
Through deep friendships and love lost and found, from the peace marches of the fifties and the flowering of the Swinging Sixties, to the rise of Thatcher and the battle for gay rights, to the spectre of a new war, Sheila Hancock has created a powerful, panoramic portrait of Britain through the life of one very singular woman.
‘Infused with humanity, self-perception and honesty ... It is the stuff of bestsellers’ Joan Bakewell
Sheila Hancock has enjoyed a career across film, television, theatre and radio since the 1950s. Her first big television role was in the BBC sitcom The Rag Trade in the early 1960s. She has directed and acted for the Royal Shakespeare Company and the National Theatre.
Until recently she was Chancellor of the University of Portsmouth and she is now an active patron of Digismart, a literacy programme for children, as well as being involved with disadvantaged youngsters through the John Thaw Foundation. She’s a patron of the London HIV charity The Food Chain, and a vice chairman of St Christopher’s Hospice. She is a Quaker.
Following the death of her husband, John Thaw, she wrote a memoir of their marriage, The Two of Us, which was a number one bestseller and won the British Book Award for Author of the Year. Her memoir of her widowhood, Just Me, was also a bestseller and the two books sold over one million copies.
All our free copies of Miss Carter's War have now gone, but it is still available online and from all good booksellers. Don't forget that if you are the winner of a copy you will need to post your comments or questions for Sheila Hancock on the thread.
Sheila Hancock will be discussing Miss Carter’s War with Kate Mosse at the Bloomsbury Institute on Thursday 23rd October, tickets are available to purchase here.