Wednesday 14 July 2021

Angel of Liverpool by Elizabeth Morton BLOG TOUR @LiverpoolGirl72 @panmacmillan @RandomTTours #AngelOfLiverpool #BookExtract


Her mother called her Angel but now she’s a fallen woman . . .

There are different opinions as to what happened to Evangeline O'Leary's mother. Her younger sisters believe the story that she’s in heaven. But Evie has heard the gossips – that her ma has upped and left with the man she had an affair with while Evie’s dad was fighting in the war.

As the eldest, Evie has become ‘mum’ to her three siblings, all while holding down a job at the Tate & Lyle Sugar Factory. But when her childhood sweetheart leaves for Canada he leaves Evie with more than just a broken heart. Her father agrees to keep the pregnancy a secret but is determined to marry her off to the first hapless fellow who’ll have her. Evie doesn’t want a loveless marriage like her parents but how long can she keep her baby a secret from her neighbours and the nuns who run the local home for unmarried mothers . . . ?

Set in the aftermath of World War II, Angel of Liverpool is a gritty and emotionally compelling historical saga from author, Elizabeth Morton, who was born and bred in Liverpool.

Angel of Liverpool by Elizabeth Morton was published on 8 July 2021 in paperback by Pan Macmillan. As part of this #RandomThingsTours Blog Tour I am delighted to share an extract from the book with you today. 

Extract from Angel of Liverpool 
by Elizabeth Morton

Liverpool, 1946

‘Saints preserve us! Go back and sit at your desks, girls!’ exclaimed Sister Boniface, standing at the front of the classroom. She was turning bright pink under her stiff white coif and habit. The row of twitching, excited schoolgirls strained and wriggled in their chairs to get a better look. Evie O’Leary, however, was unusually still, transfixed by the dress on a cream satin-covered hanger that was hooked onto the lip of the hinged blackboard. The creases had been metic- ulously ironed out only that morning by Sister Mary Clotilda, who was standing beside Sister Boniface, beaming proudly.

Carefully, Sister Boniface peeled off the tissue paper, which floated away like gossamer. There was a gasp from the girls. It was the most beautiful thing Evie had ever seen. A spotless white dress with a ruched bodice, falling away in delicate pleats from the waist that cascaded all the way down to the floor. It had white lace sleeves elasticated at the elbow, and small satin ruffles around the hem.

‘Now, class, would one of you like to tell us why I have come here today?’

 Eager hands shot up into the air. Of course, they all knew. They had been talking about this for weeks. ‘Yes, you, Mary,’ said the nun, pointing to a girl with blonde hair in a neat ponytail coiled up on the top of her head. ‘Come up here and tell us.’

The air thickened with expectancy. The girl came to the front of the class. ‘The Crowning of the May,’she replied.

‘Perhaps you’d like to tell us about it?’
‘Yes, Sister. The holiest girl in our class will be allowed to wear this dress for the Crowning of the May. It’s a long dress, no one else will be allowed to wear a long dress, and so that’s how everyone in the church will know she’s the holiest.’

‘Not just holy. Holier than holy.’

There was a hushed silence and another intake of breath. ‘This is going to be a tough contest, girls. This dress is unmatched in its sheer beauty, so whoever I choose to wear it will have to show they are the very essence of goodness and purity. Actually, come to think of it, if I decide no one is deserving, it might not get worn at all.’

Sister Mary Clotilda’s face fell as she thought of her red raw fingers and tired eyes and the hours she had spent in the diminishing light, stitching, hemming and embroidering the dress with tiny forget-me-nots and crucifixes.

‘Rest assured, I will be watching each and every one of you.’ 

‘What if it doesn’t fit the holiest girl?’ said Eunice, a chubby, wide-hipped thirteen-year-old with sturdy legs.

‘Your purpose is not to turn heads, but to turn hearts towards our Heavenly Father,’ Sister Boniface replied, sharply.

Eunice slumped in her chair and went back to sucking on the frayed cuff of her jumper.

‘But Sister, how will you know?’ asked Evie in a small voice.

The nun squinted towards the desk at the back of the room. ‘Know what, Evangeline?’

‘Whether someone is good all the time. What if someone is really holy in school and really bad at home?’ ‘Jesus is watching you, Evangeline O’Leary. Don’t think you can outwit him. And don’t think you can outwit me, either. I can safely say that unless there’s a dramatic change in your behaviour, you won’t get within a sniff of it.’

Evie dropped her head.

‘Sister, what kind of things make us the holiest?’ asked another girl, earnestly taking a red pencil out of her box of Lakeland colouring pencils.

Evie guessed that Sister Boniface was about to start quoting the little red catechism book, showing off as usual how she knew the flaming thing by rote.

‘Well, of course, we can all look to our catechism for clues as to what I’ll be judging you on. Let’s have a go . . . I’ll dive in. What is moral virtue?’ asked the nun. ‘Moral virtue is honesty, justice, purity and self-control. What is cardinal virtue? Cardinal virtue is prudence, justice, fortitude and temperance . . .’ 

Elizabeth Morton was born in Liverpool and worked as an actress. 

She is known for playing Madeline Basset in Jeeves and Wooster and Lucinda in the Liverpool sitcom, Watching. 
As well as TV, she has also worked in theatre and film. 
She trained at Guildhall School of Drama and as a writer, with The Royal Court Young Writers’ Group. 
She is an award- winning short-story writer and has also written drama for TV, film and theatre. 

In her formative years at convent school, she spent her weekends playing the piano accordion in Northern Working Men’s Clubs. 

She lives with her husband - the actor Peter Davison - in Middlesex and is the author of A Liverpool Girl and A Last Dance in Liverpool.

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