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Applause @ 2014 by Madalyn Morgan

Published worldwide 2014 @ Madalyn Morgan

All rights reserved in all media. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form by any means, electronic or mechanical (including but not limited to: the Internet, photocopying, recording or by any information storage and retrieval system), without prior permission in writing from the author.

The moral right of Madalyn Morgan as the author of the work has been asserted by her in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.

All characters in this publication are fictitious and any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data.

A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library.

Book Jacket Designed by Cathy Helms

Proofreading by Alison Thompson, The Proof Fairy

Formatting for Kindle by Rebecca Emin

Author Photograph: Dianne Ashton

I thank my mentor Dr Roger Wood for his help and encouragement. Jane Goddard for the photograph of her mother Pamela, aged eight, and Getty Images for the photograph of the three young women. Author friends, Elizabeth Ducie and Jayne Curtis. Pauline Barclay and the authors of Famous Five Plus for their support. Amy McBean-Dennis and the ladies at Oh Lovely in Lutterworth, Joff Gainey and Becky at The BookStop Café Lincoln and Kelvin Hunt of Hunts Independent Bookshop in Rugby for selling my novels. I would also like to thank my soul sister Dianna Cavender, and friends Valerie Rowe and Hilda Clarke – whose faith in me has never wavered.

Applause is dedicated to the memory of

my lovely mum and dad, Ena and Jack Smith.


I also dedicate Applause to the brave servicemen and women of the British, Commonwealth and American armed forces. The home guard, air-raid wardens, nurses, doctors, hospital auxiliaries, volunteers, ambulance drivers, men and women of the fire brigade, factory workers, farmers, land army girls and wartime correspondents.

To the theatre owners and managers who kept the theatres open. Backstage and front of house staff who kept the theatres running, and the artists who risked their lives to keep the public entertained. To the composers, songwriters and playwrights. The entertainers who worked with ENSA and other entertainment organisations, professional and amateur.

Last, but by no means least, the mothers, daughters, sisters and wives who kept the home fires burning, so our heroes had a home to come back to.


‘Look out! Stop!’

Margaret didn’t look. She didn’t stop until she was pushed into a doorway. ‘What--?’ was all she had time to say before her body slammed into the door. With the wind knocked out of her, Margaret gasped for breath. She struggled beneath the body of a man twice her size until she found a pocket of air, and inhaled deeply. A combination of sweat and brick dust filled her nostrils. Her mouth snatched for air and she began to choke. Her captor didn’t relax his grip. He held her tightly as tiles from the roof of the once quaint Jardin Café on Maiden Lane, in London’s Covent Garden, crashed onto the pavement where Margaret had been standing seconds before.

The cracking, splintering sound of snapping slates gave way to a heavier, duller sound like rolling thunder. With a vice-like grip, the man shielding Margaret took hold of her wrist and threw himself at the door they were leaning on. The door groaned, and the wood splintered at the side of the antiquated brass keyhole, but it didn’t give way. Still holding her, the man lunged again. This time there was a loud crack and the lock buckled beneath his powerful body. The door burst open, propelling Margaret through its gaping entrance as the chimney from the café’s roof crashed to the ground, missing them by inches.

Frightened for her life, Margaret stumbled into the darkness, lost her footing, and slid bottom-first down a flight of stone steps. The strap on her handbag snapped and the bag flew through the air, scattering its contents over the ancient flagstones. With the cardboard box of her gas mask digging into her ribs, Margaret came to a halt beneath a huge wooden cross.

Dazed and bruised, she looked around. She could see by the beam of daylight shining into the small vestibule that she was in the entrance of a church. She could hardly believe her eyes. She had walked down Maiden Lane a dozen times before; she’d had tea in the café, bought postcards from the bookshop opposite to send home, but she had never seen a church. Now she was sitting at the bottom of a flight of steps looking up at a soulful figure of Jesus Christ on the Cross.

‘Have you had enough of life, young woman?’ the burly workman bellowed from inside the door at the top of the steps.

‘What do you mean?’ Margaret said, coughing and spluttering.

‘That was a bloody stupid thing to do.’

‘You’re the stupid one, for pushing me down these stairs. I could have broken my neck.’ She put her hand up to shield her eyes and peered at him through swirling brick dust. Because the light was behind the man she wasn’t able to see his face, but she could see he was wearing workman’s clothes.

‘Didn’t you see that bloody great big sign sayin’ No Entry?’

‘I didn’t have time to look.’ Margaret put on her best voice, emphasising the aitch in have. ‘I was on my way to an important job interview and didn’t want to be late,’ she said, in an attempt to justify her stupidity, while biting back her tears.

‘You could’ve been killed, never mind late!’ the man hollered, and he stormed off.

‘I’m sorry!’ Margaret shouted after him, but he had gone. She could have been killed, and so could

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