Britain stands alone, its army defeated in France, the survivors barely rescued from the beaches of Dunkirk. In London, Winston Churchill tries to rally the nation, but struggles to impose his authority. Some of his cabinet believe there is no alternative but to do a deal with Hitler.
In the Battle of Britain the Luftwaffe is gaining the upper hand. There are signs that Britain is beginning to crack. There are reports of mutinies and peace marches, even hints of disloyalty close to the Crown.
The German army awaits the order to invade. But Hitler is hesitant. He would prefer the British to sue for peace, so that he can turn his attention to his real enemy, Russia.
Then an unknown group emerges from the shadows and makes contact. These “Realists” want a settlement with the Nazis.
Who are they?
Is there a traitor inside Churchill’s cabinet?
Who has sent ‘An Invitation to Hitler’?
“A thrilling read” Historical Novel Society
“Beautifully written, almost lyrical prose” Amazon Vine review
“Explodes with promise” Publishers Weekly
(Publishers Weekly is an independent organisation. The review was based on a manuscript version of the book and not a published version.)
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
An almost hidden statement in Churchill’s History of the Second World War which challenges all pre-conceived notions about Britain’s situation in 1940.
You’ll find it as an Afterword in the book!
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
The principal characters in the novel are real life figures; Churchill and his chief lieutenants, military and political. The characterisation of these people was developed through detailed research, mainly the study of autobiographies of the people surrounding the main players. I believe that the characters’ interaction with others gives a better insight than the character’s own story.
He left his driver and bodyguard by the cottage. They knew he wanted to be alone and let him walk away unaccompanied. Here, of all places, he should be safe – deep in the garden of England, where an assassin or a landing party would stand out against the tableau of the age-old landscape. Still wearing drab army battledress from his earlier engagements of the day, the solitary figure walked slowly past the redbrick country house, barely glancing up at its fine gabled walls. Until recently so welcoming, it now stood closed and shuttered – an appropriate symbol, he mused, for the country at this perilous time.
He walked on past the terrace, the gravel crunching beneath his feet, until he reached the edge of the garden. For a few moments he hesitated, looking around and quietly absorbing the sadness of its current neglect… the flower beds unkempt and weed-strewn; the once-manicured lawns almost meadow-like. He counted out the months… eight, nearly nine, since he had left this place and moved back to London. Nature had moved quickly to reclaim ground no longer tended.
A hundred yards further on, Churchill came to a stop on a sunlit, grassy bank by the lakeside. So often over the years he had come to this special place to enjoy the tranquil scene, the calls of the wild birds and the rustling of water through the sedges. On this glorious June afternoon, however, there was no such pleasure. Instead, he could only stand and watch sadly as the lake’s last waters drained away. So painstakingly constructed just fifteen years ago, it had been deemed too recognisable a landmark from the air and had to be expunged.
Earlier that morning a squad of Canadian engineers had arrived to prepare the execution. Cordoning off the area, they surveyed the earth and stone construction to select a suitable spot from where an out-flowing torrent would do least damage, directed well away from house and garden. They drilled a hole deep into the retaining wall and inserted a few ounces of plastic explosive, just sufficient to make an effective breach while minimising the damage to the surrounding structure. Retiring a safe distance, they detonated the charge and watched with quiet satisfaction as the lake began to empty itself along the intended channel. Tomorrow they would return to finish the task, to plant on the drying bed the shrubs and trees that were already stacked nearby in hessian sacks. Within a few weeks the recently visible contours of the lake would blend back into the green countryside, the work of camouflage complete.
The engineers had completed their task professionally, without emotion, a small diversion from their routine of technical classes and weapons drill. For Churchill, arriving on the scene a few hours later, it was different. This was his lake. He had created it, had planned it here in the secluded eastern acres of the estate. He had measured out its perimeter and checked the levels with the greatest of care, then supervised the men over the months as they excavated the ground and raised the banks, helping out from time to time with the brick and stone laying. With the long work of construction finally complete, he had watched with a deep glow of satisfaction on the day the waters from the Chart Well began to fill it, giving it life. When it settled he had planted freshwater weeds and rushes, then stocked the new-born lake with trout and carp. He had maintained it over the years with diligence, perhaps even love, enjoying it immensely as it came to life with fish and waterfowl, and gradually merged into the landscape until it looked as if it had been there for centuries. He had painted by its banks, catching all its seasons and moods, and paced by it for hours at a time, deep in thought.
Now it was gone, an unsung casualty of the conflagration. Only a few muddy puddles remained, and in them a few carp, flapping about in their death throes. For all the carnage, the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people, the mass destruction of cities and towns throughout Europe – for all of that, the demise of this small lake and the plight of its few poor fish brought a tear to his eye.
He stood quietly for a moment, his mind churning, feeling the pressure from the dozens of issues confronting him until, just as the blackness threatened to enfold him, he sensed the evening sun begin to warm his face. He steadied himself. His words to the House a few days earlier echoed in his mind and gave him sustenance. He spoke them aloud, across the ravaged site.
We shall never surrender!
I live in Dublin, Ireland, close to the bay. I like to spend my winters writing and my summers sailing.
Writing fiction came as a interest after a career in the technology industry. I have long had a fascination about political and military history, particularly about the Battle of Britain period. Retirement has given me the opportunity to explore the sites, sail the waters and fly the skies where the action took place.
My novels explore the hidden story, and project from there into some very realistic might-have-beens.
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