A Daughter’s Choice

A Daughter’s Choice
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Heartache and hardship in London’s East End, from the bestselling author of The Orphans of Halfpenny StreetKathy Cole, is a determined young woman. She refuses to stay at home with her bitter, drunken father and is instead determined to do her bit for the men in the Great War by training to be a nurse.While in training, she meets up with a face from the past – Tom O’Rourke – now a doctor with many responsibilities. He doesn't initially take much notice of the young, innocent Kathy and she knows it’s wrong to think of Tom as anything other than a friend, especially as she's promised to Billy Ryan back home in the East End.However, Kathy and Tom find themselves thrown together and, like so many other young couples during the war, they become closer than they should. But when the war is finally over, Kathy makes a life-changing decision about her future, believing it to be the only possible solution…with disastrous effects.


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An imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers Ltd

The News Building

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London SE1 9GF


First published as ‘Kathy’ in Great Britain by Severn House Large Print 2003

Copyright © Linda Sole

Cover design © HarperCollinsPublishers Ltd 2017

Cover photographs © Richard Jenkins (girl); Shutterstock.com (background).

Linda Sole asserts the moral right to be identified as the author of this work.

A catalogue copy of this book is available from the British Library.

This novel is entirely a work of fiction. The names, characters and incidents portrayed in it are the work of the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events or localities is entirely coincidental.

All rights reserved under International and Pan-American Copyright Conventions. By payment of the required fees, you have been granted the non-exclusive, non-transferable right to access and read the text of this e-book on screen. No part of this text may be reproduced, transmitted, down-loaded, decompiled, reverse engineered, or stored in or introduced into any information storage and retrieval system, in any form or by any means, whether electronic or mechanical, now known or hereinafter invented, without the express written permission of HarperCollins.

Source ISBN: 9780008168612

Ebook Edition © January 2017 ISBN: 9780008168629

Version: 2016-12-08

‘How is your grandmother today, Kathy?’ Bridget Robin son called to me as I was leaving the shop at the corner of Farthing Lane and had paused to greet her. ‘I heard she wasn’t well.’

‘She seems better again now. The doctor thinks it was just a chill, but he says she should take things easier.’

‘Well, I’m glad she’s getting over it, whatever it was. I’ll pop in and see her later if I can manage it.’

‘She would enjoy that …’ I hesitated, then went on in a rush: ‘Gran often talks about you, Bridget. She says things would have been different if Da had married you.’

Bridget gave me an understanding smile and I knew she must have heard the latest tale about my father, but she wouldn’t embarrass me by mentioning it. Bridget’s husband Joe was a rich man these days and owned most of the property in the lane, including the small general store we all used at the corner. Some people were a bit jealous of his success, but most agreed that he was generous in his support of local people, and everyone liked Bridget.

‘She’s just the same as she always was,’ Gran had told me more than once. ‘Ernie Cole was a fool, that’s what I say. He had his chance with her and threw it away – that’s your father all over. Never knows what’s good for him. I warned him when he married that woman – but he wouldn’t listen to me and look what it got him! He’s never been the same since.’

Why did Gran dislike my mother so much? What had she done that caused both Gran and my father to scowl if I mentioned her name?

I often wondered why my mother had run away soon after I was born, but when I asked questions about her Gran shook her head.

‘Best you don’t know child. It wasn’t your fault – and you’ve been a blessin’ to me.’

Jean Cole had been as good as a mother to me, loving me and making sure that I never went without anything if she could help it, though I suspected she sometimes had help with money from a source she wouldn’t reveal.

A Londoner through and through, she had lived in the same house since marrying at the age of seventeen, moving only three houses when she left her home to start her married life. Our lane was just across from the St Katherine’s Docks, which were now a part of the larger London Docks, but when they were first built almost a whole parish, including the old hospital of St. Katherine’s, had been pulled down to make way for them.

‘Well, I must get on,’ Bridget said, her voice breaking into my thoughts. ‘Our Tom is coming for a meal this evening. He’s a doctor with the Army, you know, but they didn’t send him to France with the troops because of that bit of bother he had when he was a lad. Not that it troubles him now. In fact, he thinks he may never have had consumption at all, just an infection of the lungs. He knows all about that sort of thing now, our Tom – and he says the doctors made a lot of mistakes in the early days.’

‘You’ll be glad to see your brother, I expect.’

‘Yes, I shall. Tom is busy so we don’t see him as often as we’d like – but at least he keeps in touch. I haven’t heard from Jamie for ages. He was in America the last time he wrote and doing well, but that was years ago …’

She frowned, her eyes full of shadows as if she were remembering an old sadness. I knew there was some story about Jamie O’Rourke having gone away after his girl was killed in a fire on the eve of their wedding, but I didn’t know the details.

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