Above painting: Louis Jean Francois - Mars and Venus an Allegory of Peace


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Friday, May 6, 2022

How One Famous Socialite Volunteered During WWII

During WWII, novelist Nancy Mitford did quite a lot voluntary service to her country, in addition to working at the famous bookshop, Heywood Hill, where she entertained writers and bibliophiles alike in her makeshift salon, “Club Nancy,” along with sharing the love of books with those left in London.

While two of her sisters were actively courting friendship with Hitler, Nancy doubled down on her patriotic duties to Great Britain. She spent a very short time as an ARP ambulance driver during the Blitz which resulted in a small accident. Considering that there was a blackout at night in London during the blitz, her volunteering to drive was quite brave. All lights were extinguished during this time, and no headlamps were allowed to be used on vehicles, which of course resulted in an increase in accidents.

After the accident, Nancy sought a different type of service. She worked in a first aid post in Picadilly, rolling bandages and assisting those who came in needing aid, but she also used a blue indelible pencil to write identifying information on bodies that came in after the Luftwaffe attacks. 

She had a brief stint as a BBC broadcaster, teaching the people of London how to put out fires. However, listeners found her voice to be irritating enough that they wrote into the BBC complaining about it and asking that she be replaced. That didn't stop Nancy from aiding her fellow Brits. She also served on the fire watch herself, often at night after a long shift at Heywood Hill. 

When her family’s home, Rutland Gate, was used as a billet for about 70 Jewish refugees from the East End of London, she took up the care and running of the household and its new inhabitants. This included getting everyone's rations, making sure the house was maintained, making appointments for the refugees healthcare, etc... 

And, perhaps most intriguing of all, when a friend at the war office asked for her help in spying on the French who’d recently come to London, Nancy didn’t hesitate. She made friends with the Free French officers and got herself invited to their club so she could listen in on their conversations.

The resiliency of those on the home front during WWII has always fascinated me, and I made sure to add Nancy's service to my historical novel, THE MAYFAIR BOOKSHOP, to highlight that she was much more than the scandalous socialite she’s often made out to be. Nancy had a big heart, which was much too often broken.

To dig in further into Nancy's and her family's participation in WWII, including the two sisters who were cozy with Hitler, order the book today!

The Mayfair Bookshop: A Novel Of Nancy Mitford And The Pursuit Of Happiness…

From USA Today bestselling author Eliza Knight: a brilliant dual-narrative story about Nancy Mitford—one of 1930s London’s hottest socialites, authors, and a member of the scandalous Mitford Sisters—and a modern American book curator desperate for change, connected through time by a little London bookshop.

1938: She was one of the six sparkling Mitford sisters, known for her stinging quips, stylish dress, and bright green eyes. But Nancy Mitford’s seemingly sparkling life was really one of turmoil: with a perpetually unfaithful and broke husband, two Nazi sympathizer sisters, and her hopes of motherhood dashed forever. With war imminent, Nancy finds respite by taking a job at the Heywood Hill Bookshop in Mayfair, hoping to make ends meet, and discovers a new life.

Present Day: When book curator Lucy St. Clair lands a gig working at Heywood Hill she can’t get on the plane fast enough. Not only can she start the healing process from the loss of her mother, it’s a dream come true to set foot in the legendary store. Doubly exciting: she brings with her a first edition of Nancy’s work, one with a somewhat mysterious inscription from the author.  Soon, she discovers her life and Nancy’s are intertwined, and it all comes back to the little London bookshop—a place that changes the lives of two women from different eras in the most surprising ways. 

Order your copy!

Personalized Signed Copies: https://www.sykesvillebooks.com/eliza-knight

Harpercollins: https://bit.ly/TheMayfairBookshop

Bookshop: https://bit.ly/TheMayfair_Bookshop

IndieBound: https://bit.ly/TheMayfairBookshop_BuyIndie

Books-a-Million: bit.ly/TheMayfairBookshop_BAM

Amazon Print: https://bit.ly/MayfairBookshop

Amazon Ebook: https://bit.ly/TheMayfairBookshop_Ebook

Amazon Canada: https://bit.ly/MayfairBookshop_CA

Barnes & Noble: https://bit.ly/TheMayfairBookshop_BN

Kobo: https://bit.ly/TheMayfairBookshop_Kobo

Apple: https://apple.co/3AhR8fV

Chapters: https://bit.ly/TheMayfairBookshop_Chapters

Audible: https://bit.ly/TheMayfairBookshop_Listen

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