Hey friends. Today is my stop on the blog tour for The Wit and Wisdom of Hilda Ffinch by Juliet Warrington and I am bringing you a guest post. Enjoy!
The Wit and Wisdom of Hilda Ffinch by Juliet Warrington
Genre: Historical Fiction
Published by: Clink Street Publishing
Release date: 22/09/2020
Where to find: Goodreads | Amazon
Summary: England, 1940. With Adolf Hitler and his henchmen goose-stepping about the place and ranting for the Fatherland on the far side of the English Channel, the villagers of Little Hope in deepest, darkest Yorkshire, are doing their very best to Keep Calm and Carry On. It isn’t always easy though, even with the best of intentions. There are evacuees to deal with as well as nightly air raid warnings and suspected fifth columnists. Worse still, there’s a dire shortage of spotted dick and knicker elastic.
But help is at hand! Enter Mrs Hilda Ffinch, horrendously rich and terribly bored lady of the manor who takes it upon herself to step into the role of Agony Aunt at the local newspaper.
Unshockable, unshakable and completely devoid of any hint of tact whatsoever, Hilda soon has the villagers flocking to her banner as she dishes out her own unique brand of gin-fuelled advice.
What could possibly go wrong?
My five favourite things about Hilda Ffinch? Well, here goes!
- She’s glamorous, thin and never has a hair out of place. Whether we find her mid air-raid or chilling out in the drawing room, Hilda always looks as though she’s just stepped off the set of an old Hollywood movie. I suspect that she sleeps with her hair in pin-curls when Colonel Ffinch is away doing whatever it is he does at the War Office, but you won’t find her leaping out of bed and trotting down to the Anderson shelter at midnight without first having wrapped a silk scarf around next day’s hairdo.
- She’s ridiculously wealthy and has never had to work a day in her life. Money has never been an issue for Hilda, she was born into one fortune (her father having been under the British Ambassador in Paris for a while, from which gay old time his French letters are still preserved for posterity in the top drawer of her mother’s bureau whilst his fortune lies gathering interest in the hands of Coutts & Co.) and then she married into another. Although she’s rich, Hilda isn’t wasteful, she tucks into her wartime Woolton pie with great gusto and would never dream of lighting a Craven A with a five pound note. Although a bit miffed that war has stopped her weekly train jaunts up to London (she’d live in Selfridges given half a chance) she’s quite happy to pitch in with the war effort, an activity which she generally engages in by watching her gardener Dig for Victory at her Yorkshire pile whilst she enjoys a slightly-smaller-than-usual stiff gin on the terrace. Thorne, the gardener, may be knocking on a bit but he’s still a very handsome man, so who can blame her?
- She’s plucky – although that’s probably largely down to the sense of entitlement she was born with and the firm conviction that she’s obviously invincible on the back of it. Nothing ever seems to phase her, and no problem is insurmountable. Although she lives in interesting times – it’s 1940 no-one can really be sure that Hitler won’t actually cross the English Channel and win the war – I’m fairly certain that had the invasion come and a Panzer division taken it upon itself to blow the gates of Ffinch Hall to smithereens, they’d have found a home-made trebuchet manned by the local Women’s Institute under Hilda’s command waiting to greet them on the terrace. She’d be a little bit like one of my real-life heroines – Sibyl Hathaway, the Dame of Sark – who asked the Nazi invaders who arrived on her doorstep in 1940 to sign her Visitors’ Book as they ‘wouldn’t be staying’.
- She doesn’t have to cook. What’s not to like there?! Food might be in short supply due to rationing, but as long as Hilda’s faithful cook is knocking about in the kitchen preparing an assortment of Beatrix Potter inspired dishes (Pigling Bland trotters and Squirrel’s Nutkins) then Hilda’s happy to keep calm, carry on, and only visit the kitchen on high days and holidays. That said, when letters containing problems of a culinary nature land on her desk (read: are bought up to her in bed of a morning on a tray by her lady’s maid) she’s happy to give the end of her pen a little nibble before imparting what she firmly believes to be invaluable advice based on her own broad knowledge of everything under the sun (again, read: listening to Cook cursing below stairs for England when her spotted dick has failed to rise).
- She may be much more fortunate than her neighbours, but when the chips are down she’s there for them. Not always in a good way. But there. Hilda may not have a clue about the trials and tribulations of working-class life but this doesn’t stop her confidently wading in and pointing the villagers of Little Hope in what she firmly believes to be the right direction! Would I follow her advice? Well…maybe not…but if push came to shove and the invasion did come, then I’d happily stand behind her and bark, confident that it would take a very brave enemy indeed to take on a riled upper-crust stalwart like Hilda Ffinch. They’d still be talking about the severe handbagging she’d give him forty years later.
JULIET WARRINGTON was born on a small (and now totally defunct) RAF station in the Libyan part of the Sahara Desert, some 30 odd miles from the Egyptian border. Constantly on the move as a child due to her dad’s job, she grew up in Surrey, Buckinghamshire, Cyprus and London. Long-term friendships were hard to form without internet and mobile phones and so books became her constant companions. She lived in Limassol with Lorna Doon, Aylesbury with Tom Sawyer and hid The Scarlet Pimpernel in the garden shed in Uxbridge on more than one occasion. She currently resides just outside Wrexham, in North Wales.