Rosie Clarke talks about the challenges women faced during wartime.
Jessie’s story is the first of three books about strong women in the early twentieth century. Just after the Great War of 1914-1918, single women who had lost their loved ones in the terrible conflict had little hope of finding love again. Since marriage had always been the lot of most respectable women it meant that they needed to find work to support themselves, unless they had a family to protect them. Jessie’s aunt is willing to take her on in her bakery when she is sacked from her post as a nurse after accusing a doctor of molesting a young probationer. However, Jessie’s aunt relies on the master baker to run her business and he tries to molest Jessie once too often.
Jessie must find a new job and since she has been blacklisted by the hospital, it would be difficult to find work in London. She sees an advertisement for a post as a children’s nurse with one added patient, an invalid lady who needs help with dressing. Jessie decides to apply and is given the job, which is far away from London.
When she arrives, Jessie walks into a crisis: Nanny has had a mild stroke and the household is short of staff – and love. The children are neglected by their mother, who shows no interest in her daughter at all. Even their wounded father, a hero of the war, seems interested only in his son. It is down to Jessie to teach these people how to love and feel compassion, and in doing so she falls hopelessly in love with the children, Jack and Catherine, and their father Captain Kendle. Jealous and angry, Mrs Kendle sends Jessie away in disgrace.
Jessie must do her best to recover from the hurt of leaving those she has come to love and of the tragic accident that led up to her cruel dismissal. Only when further tragedy strikes does Jessie have a chance of finding happiness…
In this book, I wanted to explore the possibilities for women of the period, what kind of lives they were able to lead and how difficult it was for women who fell from grace. Jessie’s healing touch reaches out not just to the family for whom she worked, but for Nanny, whose health is failing and fears for the future, for maids who were not always appreciated for their hard work and sometimes unwise in their choice of lovers, and a family torn apart by anger and pain.
Life in service was hard and the rules were strict, girls often dismissed for the slightest offence. Without a reference there was little chance of another place. Once a young woman lost her good name she could hardly expect to find respectable work and many took to a life on the streets to keep from starving. There was no one to turn to for help other than the workhouse, which no one entered willingly. Actresses were considered little more than whores, even though some achieved fame, and it was risking your reputation for a respectable young woman to associate with such a person: especially one that had given birth to an illegitimate child.
Jessie’s courage leads her into making a promise that she must keep for the rest of her life, and although the next stories in the series are not about Jessie, her presence and influence continues.
All the books I write centre around women who are forced to be strong by circumstances of fate. They are forced to fight for what they believe in and for the right to happiness.
I hope you will enjoy reading Jessie’s Promise.
DEVON 1918. When Jessie Hale loses her nursing job at the end of the First World War, she leaves London to become the nursemaid to the Kendle family in Devon.
On arrival she finds the family in disarray. Captain Kendle is a loving father but is traumatised by the war and kept at arm’s length by his frosty wife. When their elderly Nanny suffers a bad fall, Jessie has to try to bring the household together. Gradually Jessie finds her place in their lives, becoming devoted to Captain Kendle’s lively son Jack, his lovely, but quiet daughter Catherine, as well his invalid Mother.
Jessie soon starts to love her life at Kendlebury Hall, but problems arise when her feelings for her employer start to change…
Rosie Clarke was born in Swindon, but moved to Ely in Cambridgeshire at the age of nine. Married at eighteen, she ran her own hairdressing business for many years. Rosie started writing in 1976, combining this with helping her husband run his antique shop. She loves to write for her own enjoyment and to give pleasure to her millions of fans. Rosie was the well-deserved winner of the 2004 RNA Romance Award and the Betty Neels Trophy.