Sunday, July 23, 2023

All Change at the Beach Hotel by Francesca Capaldi - Book Tour

All Change at the Beach Hotel

Can she choose between her duty and her heart?

While World War One changes the country beyond measure, with food becoming scarce and Britain’s young men being called up to foreign battlefields, it is harder than ever to keep the grand Beach Hotel in Littlehampton running smoothly.

Waitress Lili Probert, a young woman who escaped her demanding family in Wales in search of a new life in Sussex, has seen her hard work rewarded at the Beach Hotel, but hides heartbreak behind her sunny personality. Her sweetheart, Norman, is missing in action and has been presumed dead, but she cannot give up hope that he may be found.

But when she meets injured soldier Rhodri, a fellow Welshman now living near Littlehampton, she fights hard to ignore her growing attraction for him, torn between her feelings for him and her loyalty to the man she thought she’d spend her life with.

But her emotions run ever higher when she suddenly receives a call from home; her mother is gravely ill and Lili is needed for her care. Returning to Wales, Lili must make a difficult choice. Follow her dreams and make her own life, or return to the place she tried so hard to escape?

Torn between her duty and her heart, Lili faces her own battle far from the conflicts in Europe…

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Lili is struggling with all the bad news she’s had recently. But she’s fed up with all the sympathy and being treated like a child. She’s grateful she’s at least got her job at the hotel. But for how long, if her family have their way? 

It had been two weeks since Lili had heard about Norman going missing and about her baby niece's death. She pondered this as she sat down for staff supper, watching as the roast mutton, gravy and potatoes were placed on the table and people started to help themselves.

Norman going missing. She wouldn’t entertain the idea that he was… gone. If that had been the case, she’d have felt it in… what? The Heavens? Her heart? She had no idea, only that she wouldn’t – couldn’t – believe he was gone.

Consequently, she felt sadder about baby Emily than about Norman. Then she felt guilty about that. Then numb. Her emotions changed with the nearby tide.

Was Norman’s disappearance maybe a sign that she should go home? Her family must be going through hell, with Jane’s, then baby Emily’s deaths? What could she do though? It wasn’t like she could bring them back. She could help, somehow. Perhaps. What if Norman was only missing? Then she could come back.

But if she ever went back home, she feared she’d never return.

She wanted to forget it for the moment. It was hard to talk to anyone about it, even Edie, which left her feeling utterly alone.

She’d avoided engaging with the staff, but that was more because of the way they tiptoed around her, talking in low tones. Some of them, anyway. Others were overly bright and breezy, as if to lift her out of her gloom. As if they could.

Only Gertie and Fanny had been the same as usual and – whether it was an attempt to be normal, or because they didn't care – she appreciated this.

‘You all right, hinny?’ Mrs Turnbull touched Lili’s arm from her place opposite.

‘Yes. Why shouldn’t I be?’

‘You’re so quiet, and, well, have every right to be, of course.’

‘No, like I said…’ She took a deep breath for courage. ‘You know what? I’m fed up I am of people treating me like a… an invalid. Yes. An invalid. Like one of them soldiers in Belgrave House hospital, what’s shot or missing a limb. I know you’re all being sympathetic like, and I appreciate it, I do. But I don’t believe Norman’s gone, see, and I want to get on with things and be normal. I know my brother’s babby has just died too, and his wife Jane with the consumption not long before, and sorry to my heart I am about it. But I can't do nothin’ about it, see. I’ve got a job to do here, at this hotel, and I just need to get on with it.’

She looked around at the silent staff, all regarding her. Had she sounded too cold-hearted?

‘That’s probably for the best, me duck,’ said Mrs Norris, standing at one end of the table, next to Mrs Leggett, her arms crossed under her abundant bosom. ‘I was the same when me ’usband died. And now I keep busy to stop me thinking about the danger my poor Joseph might be in. Eat up now, before it gets cold.’ She strode back to the kitchen.

Mrs Leggett stood and fetched an envelope out of her pocket. ‘That reminds me. A letter came for you in the late post, Miss Probert.’

‘Thank you, Mrs Leggett,’ she said, while wondering why the woman couldn’t just leave personal letters on the table for people to pick up when they came in. At least if the housekeeper was ever tempted to open one, she wouldn’t understand a word.

It was another one from Wales but had Morys’s obvious scrawl this time. She placed it in her skirt pocket. It was unusual for him to write letters and he’d never sent one while she’d been here. If it was more bad news, it would have to wait.

The meal proceeded with bits and pieces of chitchat about current guests. Lili half-listened, the letter in her pocket weighing heavily on her mind. She finished the meal quickly, then fished it out. If it was more bad news, there was no point in putting it off.

She needn’t have worried: it was Morys simply thanking her for the letter she’d sent him, his regret at her finding out too late to attend the funeral, and saying how sorry he was that her sweetheart had gone missing. It had taken him two weeks, but she appreciated it all the same.

But, as she read on, she realised there was another motive for him writing. Was it possible, he asked, that she might leave Littlehampton and come home for good? Especially now Norman was unlikely to return. How strange, that she’d been thinking about this only minutes before.

Now she’d seen the request in writing, her stomach plummeted at the thought. What would she do at home? Sort coal at the pit? Serve in a shop? Go back to being a maid at the Big House? Or was Morys wanting someone to look after little Ffion, while he worked?

And what freedom would she have, being the youngest of five, with her older sisters and brothers always bossing her around?


Author Bio –

Francesca has enjoyed writing since she was a child. Born in Worthing and brought up in Littlehampton in Sussex, she was largely influenced by a Welsh mother who was brilliant at improvised story telling. A history graduate and qualified teacher, she decided to turn her writing hobby into something more in 2006, when she joined a writing class.

Writing as both Francesca Capaldi and Francesca Burgess, she has had many short stories published in magazines in the UK and abroad, along with several pocket novels published by DC Thomson.


Her Welsh World War 1 sagas were inspired by the discovery of the war record of her great grandfather, a miner in South Wales. Her latest series, The Beach Hotel, is set in her own childhood town, where her Italian father had a café on the riverside.

Francesca is a member of the Romantic Novelists' Association and the Society of Women Writers and Journalists. She currently lives on the North Downs in Kent with her family and a cat called Lando Calrission.


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