Friday, January 3, 2014

Daffodils by Alex Martin

The first world war broke out in Europe

Young people from small, poor bucolic British families all dreamed of new possibilities and better lives if they signed up for the war. Most of them, in counties such as Wiltshire, had never been in London, many had never seen the sea. They eked out a living working for the gentry on their big estates with poverty standing like invisible perennial guards at their doors. There was hardly any escape possible until the war came.

Katy Beagle worked in the manor house as a personal maid when the son of the manor needed a little bit of fun before he departed for London to join the war effort. 

Young and inexperienced as she was, and bored to death with the prospect of being rooted to her situation for the rest of her life, Katy jumped at the opportunity to have some fun. It resulted in a huff and a lot of puff with a cloud of scandal threatening her good name and honor. Good, rock-solid Jem, the gardener, proposed again, and this time she had no other choice but to accept. And so begins the story of a young couple within the village dynamics of Wiltshire with the assortment of lovable, despicable, and delightful characters who share their lives for generations. But after the young vicar announced them husband and wife, the village openly released a sigh of relief. The scandal was short-lived and the couple could live happily ever after.

But that was not to be. Katy and Jem's paths through the deeply moving narrative exposes the highs and lows of two young people's inner turmoil with life and love, their first encounters in the adult world with heartbreak and hardship. The tale winds through a volatile time in world history and how it personally effected two young people but also their community. 

The horror of the First World War is portrayed with accuracy and emotion. The deprivations and devastation of the war is creatively and convincingly conveyed. All the elements to make this a great book is present: loyalty, weakness, betrayal, guilt, lies, sex, secrets, violence, an attempted suicide, heroism and finally love coupled with justice. All the people are real. So much so that the reader becomes emotionally attached to them and become emotionally invested in the turns and twists of the plot. Throughout the harsh reality of the war, there is still an almost ironic wholesomeness present in the young people's optimism and hope for a better future. Despite all the obstacles, the daffodils never seized to bloom among the privation and suffering of the war. 

Daffodils is an extraordinary story of commitment and enduring hope which teaches us the power of resilience, integrity and true honor.

This book was a deeply emotional experience that managed to reach the inner core of my being. This is such a powerful story. I am amazed that it has not attracted more attention on Goodreads. It really deserves it.

If you have enjoyed The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows, you will love this book as well.

Highly recommended.



Katy dreams of a better life than just being a domestic servant at Cheadle Manor. Her one attempt to escape is thwarted when her flirtation with the manor’s heir results in a scandal that shocks the local community. 
Jem Beagle has always loved Katy. His offer of marriage rescues her but personal tragedy divides them. Jem leaves his beloved Wiltshire to become a reluctant soldier on the battlefields of World War One. Katy is left behind, restless and alone. 
Lionel White, just returned from being a missionary in India, brings a dash of colour to the small village, and offers Katy a window on the wider world. 
Katy decides she has to play her part in the global struggle and joins the war effort as a WAAC girl. She finally breaks free from the stifling Edwardian hierarchies that bind her but the brutality of global war brings home the price she has paid for her search. 

"Absorbing, involving, unputdownable, honest, great characterisation". 



Life has been full to date. Now I have a window, a pause, in which to explore my first passion - writing. I have a shed in the garden where I can be found bashing both brain and keyboard. I'm attempting to express those thoughts and ideas that have been cooking since I was seven, and learned to read. 

There was an old black and gold typewriter knocking about my childhood home. When I wasn't skinning my knees climbing trees or wandering aimlessly in the countryside with my dog and my dreams, I could be found, as now, typing away with imaginary friends whispering in my ear.

My first novel, The Twisted Vine, is based on a happy time picking grapes in France in the 1980s. I met some amazing people there but none as outrageous as those that sprang to life on my screen. The next one, Daffodils, is now published on KDP and in paperback with is based in Wiltshire, where I grew up. It attempts to portray how ordinary lives, and the rigid social order, were radically altered by the catalyst of the First World War.

The next one, as yet un-named, is a ghost story. I'm just listening to the whispers from the other side to get the full picture....

You can keep up to date with my progress on 


british-novels, community, drama, historical-fiction, relationships, reviewed, romance, world-history, Wiltshire, Alex Martin

Number of Pages: 402
Formats: Kindle, Paperback
Publishing Date: March 6th 2013

Publishers: Kindle Direct Publishing / / Amazon Digital ServicesISBN-13: 9781782993957ASIN: B00BPUQAY4
Edition language: English

Purchase Links: Amazon USA  | Amazon UK | Barnes & Noble


Message from the author Alex Martin:I send enormous thanks to Margitte for this beautifully written and heartfelt review of Daffodils. I'm currently writing the sequel, Speedwell, which follows the same characters through the roaring twenties and thirties. The name is linked to the rise of the motor car, in which they all become involved, but I'll say no more than that! I can't tell you how thrilled I was with this review especially as you took the trouble to post it in the UK as well as the States and here, on Goodreads. Sincere thanks, Margitte.

I can't tell you how much it means to know that someone, thousands of miles away, has enjoyed something I've created.

Alex Martin


No comments: