Book Launch, Reading and Q&A
Sun 3rd Feb 2019
12.30pm - 1.30pm
Wolverhampton Art Gallery
Wolverhampton department store Beatties was the inspiration for Joanna Toye’s debut novel A Store at War.
After reading English at Cambridge Joanna joined the production team of The Archers and became a scriptwriter for the programme for over twenty years. She has written a number of spin-off books about the long-running radio drama. For television she has written for Eastenders, Doctors, Family Affairs and Crossroads.
A Store at War introduces the heroine, Lily Collins, who progresses from a nervous junior fresh from school to a spirited and confident young woman torn between the possibility of romance and her love for Marlow’s, the town’s department store.
Weaving together some of the most dramatic years of the Second World War with the personal stories of rationing, bombings and the absence of loved ones, the series creates an immediate sense of community both in the store and in the town.
Inspiration for the novel came from the Beatties archive which is now housed at Wolverhampton Archives. Joanna said: “I’d grown up with my mum’s excited cry of ‘Beatties’ sale!’ ringing in my ears.
The exhibition was in one small room, but I was there for hours in the detail of 1950s advertisements, 1940s press cuttings and bills of sale from the 1900s. And when I did sit down to write a novel, that exhibition, mixed with childhood memories of shopping in similar stores and Saturday jobs serving in them, meant that the story of Lily Collins and Marlow’s, but during wartime, was the one that I found myself wanting to tell.”
A Store at War is the first of a four book deal with Harper Collins.