Genre: Historical Fiction / WWII
Publisher: Black Opal Books
Date of Publication: September 30, 2017
Number of Pages: 324
*Foreword INDIES Book of the Year Awards Finalist*
*2018 Reader Views Readers’ Choice Award for Historical Fiction*
*Winner of the Tyler R. Tichelaar Award for Best Historical Fiction*
*Official selection of the Pulpwood Queens Book Club*
Scroll down for the giveaway!
May 1940. The Germans invade France and the course of three lives is upended. Annelle LeMaire is a French refugee desperate to contact her Legionnaire brothers. Mabry Springs, American wife of a wealthy Brit, is struggling to come to terms with a troubled marriage and imminent German invasion. And Reid Carr, American representative of French champagne house Pol Roger, brings more than champagne to Prime Minister Winston Churchill. Their paths entwine when Churchill and his entourage take refuge at Wickwythe Hall, the Springs’ country estate hidden from the full moon and German bombers beneath a shroud of trees. There, as secrets and unexpected liaisons unfold, Annelle, Mabry, and Reid are forever bound by the tragedy they share.
Part Downton Abbey, part Darkest Hour, Wickwythe Hall was inspired by an actual confrontation between the British and French navies in July 1940 and is a story of love, loyalty, and heartrending choices.
PRAISE FOR WICKWYTHE HALL:
“…a riveting and enlightening mix of history and fiction that puts a human face on the costs of war…engaging…” — Foreword Reviews
“Little’s characterization of Churchill is so well done. She makes his personality and presence so real. Mabry was a character to be admired for her decisions and actions. A good read with a satisfying ending.” — Historical Novels Review
“Judithe Little tackles war and masterfully boils it down to personal moral dilemmas. Beautifully written and rich with atmosphere…Wickwythe Hall is a stellar achievement.” — Ann Weisgarber, author of The Personal History of Rachel DuPree and The Promise
“…an emotional and touching story about the lives of three people during World War II, at the time of Hitler’s invasion of France in 1940. Inspired by real people, places and events in history, this whirlwind novel will no doubt leave an imprint on your heart long after you finish reading.” — Reader Views
“If you love history, beautifully rendered characters, and stories that will tug at your heart, add Wickwythe Hall to your list.” — Book Perfume
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Why I Wrote Wickwythe Hall
Guest Post by Judithe Little
In May 1940, Germany invaded France. In June, 1940, France surrendered. Under the terms of the surrender, France was required to turn its warships over to the Germans. At that time, the bulk of the French fleet was across the Mediterranean at Mers el-Kebir, an Algerian port. Winston Churchill was Prime Minister of England at the time, and he knew that if the Germans got possession of the French ships, it would be just a matter of time before England would have to surrender. The US wasn’t in the war yet and wouldn’t be for another year and a half. Roosevelt had promised not to send any more American boys to fight in foreign wars. It was an election year, and Americans wanted nothing to do with the war in Europe.
Churchill was desperate. The survival of his country was at stake. He came up with a plan he called Operation Catapult. In the middle of the night, the Royal Navy set out for Mers el-Kebir. They arrived on the morning of July 3rd just as the sun was set to rise over the brown, sandy hills, the French ships glittering in the distance. There, the British presented options to the French. One—destroy your ships by your own hand right here and right now. Two—if you won’t do this, then we’ll be forced to do it for you. It was a bitter task, as the British considered the French their friends. Just days before, they’d been fighting the Germans alongside each other.
The French didn’t take the British ultimatum well. They were humiliated after having to surrender in just one month. They were resentful toward the British after Dunkirk where the British evacuated themselves all the way across the English Channel and left the French to face the Germans on their own. And the British were supposed to be their allies. Now here they were, kicking the French when they were down.
The French naval officers told the British they would never let the Germans use their ships against them and that they should trust the French word of honor. The British replied that they trusted the French; it was the Germans they didn’t trust.
It was an impasse. The French ships tried to escape the harbor, but they were fish in a barrel. The British opened fire and destroyed almost all of the French warships, killing over 1,000 French sailors in the process.
I first heard of this incident by happenstance when I was reading a biography of Coco Chanel. It was just a short paragraph in the middle of the book, but it stopped me. At first, I thought it might have been a typo or an error. I couldn’t imagine the British and the French firing at each other during World War II. I asked friends and family if they’d heard of it, and most of them had not. I couldn’t believe that such a heart-wrenching story wasn’t common knowledge.
But it wasn’t. And it isn’t. Winston Churchill called what happened at Mers el-Kebir Greek tragedy. The British newspapers called it a horrible necessity. The French called it murder. I wanted to bring this forgotten piece of history to back to life.
Judithe Little grew up in Virginia and earned a Bachelor of Arts in Foreign Affairs from the University of Virginia. After studying at the Institute of European Studies and the Institut Catholique in Paris, France, and interning at the U.S. Department of State, she earned a law degree from the University of Virginia School of Law where she was on the Editorial Board of the Journal of International Law and a Dillard Fellow. She lives with her husband, three teenagers, and three dogs in Houston, Texas, where she’s at work on her next historical novel set in France.
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GIVEAWAY! GIVEAWAY! GIVEAWAY!
1ST: Signed Copy of Wickwythe Hall + $50 Amazon Gift Card
2ND: Signed Copy of Wickwythe Hall + $25 Amazon Gift Card
3RD: Signed Copy of Wickwythe Hall + $15 Amazon Gift Card
MARCH 27-APRIL 5, 2018
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