- Publisher: Hodder Stoughton
- Available in: Paperback, Kindle, Audiobook
- ISBN: 9781473698123
- Published: July 25, 2019
Secrets of the Homefront girls is a story of the courageous women of World War Two, working in the Yardley factory in East London.
1939, ‘Beauty is your Duty’ was an official propaganda campaign, backed by Winston Churchill, encouraging women to embrace beauty and femininity despite the hardship that they had to endure, and discouraging the notion that devoting attention to their appearances was trivial or vain. Although England may be at war, for the young women working the lipstick production line at Yardley’s cosmetics factory in East London, it’s business as usual. Wearing bright red lipstick went from being seen as risqué to patriotic. A slick of red was an easy way to create an accessible flash of glamour in another wise grey, tiring and frightening world. British firm Yardley cottoned on to this and took on the big boys of the cosmetics worlds like Max Factor, telling girls that ‘good looks and good morale are close companions, so put your best face forward’.
For headstrong and flirtatious Renee Gunn, that means taking Esther, a young Austrian refugee under her wing and teaching her how to be a true cockney. But when Lily, Renne’s older sister, suddenly returns home after six years away, it’s clear that life in Stratford is changing for good. In the face of the Blitz, could the secrets that Renee, Lily and Esther are keeping be the most dangerous weapon of all?
The richly colour characters and events in the Secrets of the Homefront Girls are inspired by my research, speaking to those who worked at Yardley, and even reuniting factory friends after 70 years. ‘Come along and meet Eileen,’ I said to Ann. ‘You never know, you may have worked together.’ It was a long shot but when I found two ex Yardley workers from Stratford, East London to interview as research for my new novel, I thought I’d take a punt and interview them together. Click here to read what happened.
Press for Secrets of the Homefront Girls
Daily Express, Monday 15 July 2019
Women’s Weekly, July 2019
People’s Friend, July 2019
BBC Four, Woman’s Hour, 6 August 2019
Click the above arrow on the photo to hear a recording of the interview