Themes, Thursday Themes

Thursday Themes – Alison Knight

I’m delighted to welcome Alison Knight to my blog today, for the first part of a double dose of Thursday Themes!

Thank you for inviting onto your blog, Jo. I’m really excited to talk about my new book, Mine. It is set in London in the late 1960s and is based on real events in my family. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever written, but also quite liberating because it helped me to gain a better understanding of what happened and why. It’s something that has haunted me since I was a little girl, but writing Mine has given me an adult perspective on it and a measure of peace that comes with understanding why ordinary people made decisions that led them into an extraordinary situation.

Thank you for inviting onto your blog, Jo. I’m really excited to talk about my new book, Mine. It is set in London in the late 1960s and is based on real events in my family. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever written, but also quite liberating because it helped me to gain a better understanding of what happened and why. It’s something that has haunted me since I was a little girl, but writing Mine has given me an adult perspective on it and a measure of peace that comes with understanding why ordinary people made decisions that led them into an extraordinary situation.

Here’s the blurb:

“What’s mine, I keep.”

London, 1968.

Lily’s dreams of a better life for her family are shattered when her teenage daughter refuses to give up her illegitimate child. It doesn’t help that Lily’s husband, Jack, takes their daughter’s side.

Taking refuge in her work at a law firm in the City, Lily’s growing feelings for her married boss soon provides a dangerous distraction.

Will Lily be able to resist temptation? Or will the decisions made by these ordinary people lead them down an extraordinary path that could destroy them all?

Mine – a powerful story of class, ambition and sexual politics.

 

As you can see from the blurb, there are themes of class, ambition and sexual politics running through this story. But the overall theme of ‘Mine’ and the reason why I chose that particular title is summed up in the tagline: What’s mine, I keep.

My Room

The adult characters in the story were all children/young teenagers in World War Two. Jack and Lily both came from working-class, East End families who had to work hard to put food on the table. So, hanging onto what was theirs was important to them. For Lily, her cramped office with its brown lino flooring and grubby window, is the first room she’s ever been able to call her own. She doesn’t have to share it with her siblings or her husband and children. That means an awful lot to her, to look around this space and say, ‘This is mine.’

My Baby

Lily and Jack’s teenaged daughter, Beverley, was abandoned by her boyfriend when she got pregnant, so she has to face the world as a single mother. In the 1960s, that was a really tough thing to go through. Society regarded unmarried mothers as pariahs. They were looked down upon, judged, and given no respect or support at all. Most girls were forced to give up their babies. Beverley didn’t want to give her baby. She was hers and she wasn’t going to let anyone take her away. ‘She’s mine.’

Our Granddaughter

The fact that Beverley’s parents are at odds over what to do adds another layer to the conflict. Lily wants a better life for her daughter and believes that having the baby adopted will be the right thing for both Beverley and her child. But her husband Jack disagrees. He doesn’t care what anybody thinks. As far as he’s concerned, the baby is their grand-daughter and she is not going to be given away. She’s ours.

What’s mine, I keep

As the story develops, relationships fracture and the theme of Mine becomes more fraught and dangerous as everyone tries to hold onto what they regard as ‘mine.’

The other themes I mentioned of class, ambition and sexual politics, weave their way through the narrative through Lily’s desire to leave behind her working-class struggles and live the middle-class dream; the conflicts she faces as a working mother; Beverley’s struggles to come to terms with single motherhood in the face of society’s condemnation; and Lily’s growing sense of detachment from her marriage.

Our times

I think the thing that struck me the most about this story was that everyone involved was a victim of their time and their place in society. If the same situations had arisen just a decade or so later, they wouldn’t have had such a devastating impact on this family. Attitudes changed. Society became more accepting. Within a few years the opportunities available to everyone to make a better life for themselves and their families were there for the taking. Unfortunately, it was too late for the people I’ve written about in Mine.

Their story

This wasn’t my story to tell – it was theirs. I’m the only one left able to tell it for them. I hope I’ve done them justice and that you’ll read Mine and come to care about what happens to these ordinary people who found themselves in an extraordinary situation.

Award-winning author of My Name is Leon, Kit de Waal, said this about Mine:

A heart breaking account of love and loss told by a great storyteller. Alison takes you into the heart of the tragedy with compassion, wit and even humour. A beautiful story.”

 

BUY LINK – Mine by Alison Knight is published by Darkstroke Books on 25th November and is available for pre-order now: mybook.to/mineknight

INVITATION TO AN ONLINE BOOK LAUNCH: On Saturday 28th November 2020, Alison will be joining four other authors for a joint event via Zoom called Darkstroke Defined: The five writers will talk about their new books, read extracts and answer questions. For your free ticket, go to: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/darkstroke-defined-tickets-125793372363

 

About the Author:

Alison has been a legal executive, a registered childminder, a professional fund-raiser and a teacher. She has travelled the world – from spending a year as an exchange student in the US in the 1970s and trekking the Great Wall of China to celebrate her fortieth year and lots of other interesting places in between.

In her mid-forties, Alison went to university part-time and gained a first-class degree in Creative Writing at Bath Spa University and an MA in the same subject from Oxford Brookes University, both while still working full-time. Her first book was published a year after she completed her master’s degree.

Mine, published by Darkstroke Books is a domestic drama set in 1960s London based on real events in her family. She is the only person who can tell this particular story. Exploring themes of class, ambition and sexual politics, Mine shows how ordinary people can make choices that lead them into extraordinary situations.

Alison co-manages Imagine Creative Writing with Jenny. She teaches creative and life-writing, runs workshops and retreats as well as working as a freelance editor. She is a member of the Society of Authors and the Romantic Novelists’ Association.

She lives in Somerset, within sight of Glastonbury Tor.

SOCIAL MEDIA LINKS – ALISON KNIGHT

www.facebook.com/alison.knight.942

@Alison_Knight59 on Twitter

www.imaginecreativewriting.co.uk

www.darkstroke.com/dark-stroke/alison-knight/

 

 

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