Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Pack Up Your Troubles

Welcome to Sally's book-a-day-for-2017 blog. If unfamiliar with the blog, scroll down.

Pack Up Your Troubles (Post 109)

Pack Up Your Troubles (2002), is set during WW2. Dad has gone away on a troop ship leaving Robert and his big sisters with Mum to keep the home fires burning. Mum and the eldest daughter, engaged to a soldier, join the land army and Robert's other sisters, filled with the zeal to send comforts for the troops, decide to get up a concert and charge admission. The idea blooms, and more people get involved.

Eleven-year-old Robert is not pleased when he has to go along to rehearsals because Mum doesn't want him alone in the house. He plays marbles, is scolded for kicking his chair and feels generally overlooked and unhappy. How can a concert help Dad when he won't be home to see it? The advent of a disabled soldier who plans to do a juggling act sitting down brings Robert out of his unhappiness. He becomes the soldier's "chair carrier" and starts to take an active interest. When he sings along with a chorus, the music teacher orders him up on stage. Suddenly he finds himself co-opted into the show. 

There are no heroics in Pack Up Your Troubles, and no one knows whether Robert's "passable treble" will develop into a good voice in later life. The events are quite authentic, though, as they come from stories my mother told me of her teenaged years during the war. Most of the characters are named for my mother's friends and yes, she was one of the girls who got up concerts to raise money to send some comforts for the troops. She didn't have a brother, but I have no doubt there were boys and girls just like Robert who wanted to help but felt themselves overlooked.

The concert comes off to great applause and "enough tears to float the Queen Mary", but as Robert's mum says, "There are worse things in life than tears." 

I was born in the late 1950s, over a decade after the end of the war, but when I was young wartime was still a topic of general conversation...during the war, since the war...and my dad still wore his army greatcoat when he went out at night to check on calving cows.

About the Blog 
Sally is Sally Odgers; author, manuscript assessor, editor, anthologist and reader. She runs and Prints Charming Books. (Sally is me, by the way, and I am lots of other things too, but these are the relevant ones for now.)

The goal for 2017 is to write a post a day profiling the background behind one of my books; how it came to be written, what it's about, and any things of note that happened along the way. If you're an author, an aspiring author, a reader or just someone who enjoys windows into worlds, you might find this fun. The books are not in any special order, but will be assigned approximate dates, and pictures, where they exist. If you enjoyed a post, or want to ask about any of my books or my manuscript assessment service, post a comment and I'll get back to you.

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