I need to tell you about this remarkable redhead because her story may affect your future. She’d be awfully old if she were still around, 106 to be exact. Maggie lost her husband Douglas in World War II, except she never considered it much of a loss. The fact that her husband would not be returning home to Canada meant she’d never again have to suffer abuse at his hands. Nor would anyone ever know about the beatings she endured, or about the unborn child she’d lost as a result. She could play the role of grieving widow with no one the wiser. The sympathy might even prove good for business.
Maggie ran a restaurant in Winnipeg called Bert’s Diner, after her father who established it. Even during the war years, the restaurant did all right because it was famous for its delicious food—cooked, of course, by Maggie. She lived upstairs over the diner and her customers could never figure out why she took in pregnant teenagers to live with her and help in the restaurant. By 1942, the boys were gone to war and Maggie was down to one girl named Charlotte.
Charlotte was exiled to Winnipeg from faraway Ontario by her wealthy, prideful parents who insisted on keeping her pregnancy hush-hush until the baby could be adopted out so their friends would never learn the family’s shameful secret. They should have realized their daughter was an imaginative, romantic girl who fantasized about her baby’s father marrying her and sweeping her away to live happily ever after. Without telling a soul, Charlotte ran away and succeeded in catching a train that would take her well into the neighboring province. Her plan might have worked, too, if she hadn’t gone into labor on the journey.
When Maggie discovered Charlotte missing, she did a little detective work and solicited the help of her old friend, Rev. Reuben Fennel. The reverend was a bit of an odd duck—even as a kid, he’d get these weird messages straight from God. They were always instructions to do something out of the ordinary and, though Reuben never told anyone about them, he usually obeyed. And they always seemed to turn out to make sense in the end. But when he took off with Maggie on a cross-country chase for a pregnant teenager using a special fuel ration card set aside for church emergencies, it resulted in his getting fired from his job. His involvement In Maggie’s troubles eventually led to broken ribs and a gunshot wound, and Maggie learned that war heroes come in all shapes and sizes. Sometimes they don’t even go to war.
The lives of these three individuals became intrinsically intertwined and everything that happened to them has affected my life as well, even though I’ve only recently discovered their stories.
All three are figments of my imagination. They are the main characters in my new novel called Maggie’s War, and I am thrilled to announce it will be released by Waterfall Press next winter. If you read my first book, The Silver Suitcase, something about this second story will have a familiar ring to it. If you haven’t, well, summer’s here. Your deck chair is calling.
I’m telling you all this as a way of saying a huge thank you. It’s largely because my readers were generous with their reviews of my first book that it sold enough copies to persuade its publisher to release the second. And yep, I’m working on a third.
You’re a part of it. Thanks for reading.