It is a cold night and Sylvie Dugdale is weeping as she walks by the Mersey. A figure approaches and, dodging aside to avoid him, she falls into the river.
Constable Brendan O'Hara, just coming off duty, sees the girl's plight and dives in to rescue her. He is dazzled by her beauty but Sylvie's husband is in prison and the closeness that Brendan soon longs for is impossible.
Sylvie has to escape from Liverpool, so Brendan arranges for her to stay with his cousin Caitlin in Dublin until it is safe to return. There she meets Maeve, a crippled girl from the slums, who will change all their lives when a little girl is lost ...
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About the Author
Katie Flynn is the pen name of the much-loved writer, Judy Turner, who published over ninety novels in her lifetime. Judy’s unique stories were inspired by hearing family recollections of life in Liverpool during the early twentieth century, and her books went on to sell more than eight million copies. Judy passed away in January 2019, aged 82.
The legacy of Katie Flynn lives on through her daughter, Holly Flynn, who continues to write under the Katie Flynn name. Holly worked as an assistant to her mother for many years and together they co-authored a number of Katie Flynn novels, including Christmas at Tuppenny Corner.
Holly lives in the north east of Wales with her husband Simon and their two children. When she’s not writing she enjoys walking her two lurchers, Sparky and Snoopy, in the surrounding countryside, and cooking forbidden foods such as pies, cakes and puddings! She looks forward to sharing many more Katie Flynn stories, which she and her mother devised together, with readers in the years to come.
Read an Excerpt
As Sylvie turned to walk along beside the river it was raining; soft fine rain which blew gently with the breeze, scarcely visible but nevertheless a force to be reckoned with. It blew against Sylvie's cold cheeks, gave the surface of the river the aspect of frosted glass, and added a satiny gleam to the paving stones beneath her feet.
Sylvie turned up the collar of her dark coat and shivered a little; what the devil was she going to do? She had spent the evening with her sister, Annie, who lived not far from where she was now standing, and of course she had told her everything. Annie was older than she by a full dozen years, and ever since her awful problem had become clear Sylvie had been certain, in the back of her mind, that Annie would have the answer to her predicament, as she had solved so many of Sylvie's problems in the past.
But this problem, it appeared, was one which even Annie could not solve. 'Wharrever made you do it, queen?' she had kept repeating with increasing querulousness. 'You know your Len's temper, none better, and Robbie's years older'n you! What's more, if he were anyone's pal, he were our Bertie's. So why did you do it?'
After four or five repetitions of this question, Sylvie could have screamed aloud. Surely it was obvious? She had been tremendously flattered when Robbie, her big brother's pal, had come home on leave from his ship and had taken notice of the little girl who had suddenly become a woman. He had been sweet to her, bought her presents, taken her to the picture house, even let her ramble on about her marriage to Len, because with Len in prison she had needed someone to talk to, someone who would not simply moralise and remind her that Len had already served over half his sentence and would soon be free once more. Robbie had even been good with little Becky, buying her sweets and chocolate bars, a pencil box, a colouring book. Then, on his last evening at home, he had taken Sylvie to see a pal . . . only the pal had been out, and the house had been empty. Robbie had pretended to be surprised, had apologised humbly for putting her in a difficult position, and had begun kissing and cuddling her . . . and then the kissing and the cuddling had turned into something else, something a deal more dangerous, and before she knew it . . .
I was a wicked girl, Sylvie told herself miserably now, wiping the misty rain from her face. I married Len because I was expecting his child, but at least he wanted to marry me and was pleased as punch when Becky was born, even though he had hoped for a boy.
Of course she had not actually wanted to marry Len, or anyone else for that matter. But her mother had insisted that Sylvie let Len make an honest woman of her. 'You'll have to marry him, queen,' she had said lugubriously. 'Them Dugdales is a big fambly, and they've a deal o' money and influence round here. Times ain't easy, and if I were to say you was goin' to keep the baby but you wouldn't marry their Len . . . well, I'd lose me job for a start, and so would your brother, and the chances are the Dugdales would go to Father O'Reilly and he'd say we had no choice - you had to marry the kid's father or be excommunicated or wharrever. And you'll be well looked after by that Len. He's a good worker, never short of a bob or two, and he's crazy about you, no kiddin'. Then there's the child. Mrs Dugdale's for ever on about havin' a grandchild . . . oh aye, they'd make a great fuss of a baby, believe me. You'd both be in clover for the rest of your lives.'
But it wasn't fair, Sylvie told herself now, walking drearily through the rain and looking down at the murky waters of the Mersey as she passed. They talked me into marrying Len when I knew very well it were a mistake I were only sixteen and once the knot were tied I realised he were jealous of every feller who looked at me twice and wouldn't listen to reason . . . and he sulked whenever something went wrong and expected me to live in the pub with his parents and scarce poke me nose outside it except when he or his ma and pa were with me . . .
And then he went too far when he was breaking up a fight in the pub and a feller ended up in hospital badly injured. Len didn't know his victim were sufferin' from a weak chest and the scuffers came runnin' and Len ended up in Walton Gaol, and has been there for the last two and a half years, and I'm stuck with Ma and Pa Dugdale and I've been a fool and oh, oh, how I wish Len was in the nick for good, because when he finds out . . .
Her mind somersaulted at the thought of what would happen if or rather when Len discovered her secret. He hadn't been due out of stir for another six months and she had trusted to luck and her sister Annie to think of a solution before then. Only his awkward old grandfather had been and gone and died, and the authorities had agreed to let Len out of the nick for the funeral, and Sylvie was sure that the moment he set eyes on her . . . oh, God, no one else bar Annie knows, but Len will know, and he'll bleedin' kill me and chuck me body in the bleedin' river, sure as my name's Sylvie Dugdale, and it'll serve me right.
The rain was beginning to fall faster and in her despair Sylvie had been keeping her eyes on the ground, so she did not see the man approaching until he was almost upon her. For one awful moment she thought it was Len, and even when she realised her mistake she jumped sideways clumsily, anxious that they should not collide. Unfortunately, she did not see one of the bollards which lined the bank at this point until she had bumped into it. She stumbled, tried to right herself, and the next thing she knew she was struggling in the ice-cold water of the Mersey. Terrified, hampered by her winter clothing and unable to swim, she opened her mouth to scream and felt the water rush down her throat, the currents drag her down.