The Flowers of the Field
This is it – the big one, the book that changed my life, and which occupies a very special place in my affections. The idea of a First World War story with a women’s angle took hold and immediately fired my imagination.
Sisters Thea and Dulcie Tennant and their maid, Primmy, are the central characters, whose lives and attitudes are changed for ever by the Great War. The story plays out on a huge canvas, but I wanted to keep the action intense and personal, answering the question ‘What would it have felt like for these characters to have been there?’.
I was also determined not to shirk the harsh and squalid realities of battle. I’m from an army family, both my grandfathers and father were professional soldiers, and I drew on regimental histories. I was very touched when readers both male and female – some of whom at the time of publication had actually been there – wrote to say that the scenes in the trenches of the Western Front rang true and chimed with their own experience.
The title is a quotation from the funeral service in the Book of Common Prayer, and a reference, of course, to the poppies that blew ‘row on row’ in Flanders fields.
I’m absolutely thrilled that this, along with its sequel A Flower That’s Free, is going to be reissued by Orion, who will also publish the new third book in the trilogy, The Wildflower Garden.