Guest Author Annie Thomas

Today our guest is Annie Thomas author of yesterday’s book “A Woman’s Choice”. Here is a link to the review if you missed it.

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Let’s find out more about Annie.

1) Where is your home town?

I was born in London, but now live in a small village in Gloucestershire.

2) How long have you been writing?

I first started ‘A Woman’s Choice’ over 20 years ago, but I haven’t taken that long to write it! Our son was born as I was near the end of the first draft in the early 1990s, and full time work combined with family life meant that the writing stopped. I thought many times about going back to it, but never quite got there. When he left home to go to University, I reread it and was determined to get it published.

3) A Woman’s Choice is set in the early 20th Century, what do you love about this period of history?

Partly because it was living memory for some people when I was a child, which gives me a sense of connection – I remember asking my grandmother about what life was like when she was young. We have so much information about that period – photographs, film, documents – that it almost seems part of my own history, even though it isn’t! It’s a particularly poignant and significant time – Europe was heading towards a war which most of the population did not foresee, and after which nothing would ever be the same again.

4) Tell us a bit about the boat trip for Clara, how long would it have taken?

In 1901 Clara travelled on an old steamship, with a cheaper crossing fare – her voyage took about 10 days. The newest steam ships could make the Atlantic run much more quickly, 5 or 6 days depending on conditions. Between 1880 and 1930, more than 27 million people made the journey from around the world.

5) What opportunities was America offering travellers?

During the first decade of the 20thC, over 9 million people predominately from across Europe made the voyage.  They came with high hopes, seeking new lives to replace the financial hardship or persecution that they experienced in their homelands.  Many went straight through New York to the agricultural and mining centres in America, like Meg and her family. Many, such as Clara and her mother, stayed in the cities, and did not always find that the streets were paved with gold.  A few with determination, courage, and luck found their way to the prosperity they all desired.  Many more found themselves in poor living conditions and exploited in menial jobs.

6) When Clara finds a place for her mother and herself to live, she is showing her strength of character once again, do you agree?

Yes, Clara had to grow up very quickly. I think she had always known how much her mother had relied on her father, and after his death she had to learn not only how to fend for them both, but to do so in a way which enabled her mother to keep her self respect – not easy. Having to do that very early in life stood her in good stead for the difficulties she encountered later on.

She is persistent – she doesn’t give up – and retains her inner core of self-belief which she needs to sustain her.

7) Tell us about jobs as singers in music shops.

In the early 20thC in New York particularly, music stores, department stores and publishers used to employ singers and piano players to help sell new sheet music. They were called ‘song pluggers’ or ‘song demonstrators’. It was the way for prospective buyers to hear the music before making a purchase, before the days of mass recording or listening booths. Even George Gershwin and Jerome Kern did it!

It was a great start for Clara, she learned so much from the experience – and not just about music.

8) Luke’s car business was at the cutting edge of invention, how exciting do you think it must have been to be in it from such an early stage?

I think it must have been terrific – high risk, taking a gamble, but with sense of confidence that he could make it work. It was entirely in tune with the sense of optimism born from a new century and a new country. He believed in himself – just as Clara believed in him. And what he wanted to do was so different from the prevailing Henry Ford philosophy of ‘any color as long as it’s black!’

9) What are you working on at the moment? Do you have an expected publication date?

I’ve started the research and structure for a second novel, but it’s very difficult to predict a publication date. I suspect it’s probably at least 12-18 months away. It will be another historical novel, and I am meticulous about the research. Everything that happens to Clara in ‘A Woman’s Choice’ is based on what really happened to women of her class in that period. The next novel will have to have the same credibility.

10) Where can fans find out more about you?

I have a web site –

When something attracts my attention I sometimes tweet about it!

Happy to follow and be followed! @annie_writer

Thank you very much Rosie, I’ve really enjoyed answering your questions today.

A Woman's Choice

Find a copy here from or






You’re very welcome, good luck with the next book. 

A Woman’s Choice by Annie Thomas

A Woman's ChoiceA Woman’s Choice by Annie Thomas

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A Woman’s Choice spans approximately 18 years of Clara Foley’s life. It begins just after the turn of the 20th Century, with young Clara. At nearly 12 years old she and her mother are about to embark on a steamer bound for America where they intend to start a new life. Turned out of their home after Clara’s father died, their only hope came in the offer of assistance from Clara’s Aunt in New York.

This book is about the strength of women. Clara must be strong where her mother is weak from grief. In a reversal of roles Clara is forced to care for her mother. Whilst crossing the Atlantic they make friends on the boat, some of whom will have significant parts in Clara’s life.

In the early years in New York, Clara and Jenny stay with Aunt Emma and Uncle Bill, but conditions are cramped and they need to find a place of their own. Clara supports them by working in a garment sweatshop, but her ambition is to be able to sing. She must start at the very bottom of the ladder and it’s a hard life until she gets her first chance singing popular songs in the music department of Staceys.

It’s Clara’s determination and drive which get her where she is, she pushes her agent to find her an audition for a show and again she works her way up. She’s supported by her good friend Michael O’Halluran and other strong women, Noreen and Margo.

The return of Luke Rutherford adds another chapter to Clara’s life, with his ambition to build and sell motorcars. The friends enter into business at a time of prosperity for some, while Europe plunges into war. With Michael gone to England to join the war, Clara feels adrift. News from France will set Clara back on her feet as she once more makes her own choice about her destiny.

I really enjoyed this book, the struggle to survive, the strength of women, the history of the times, well worth a read.
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Annie will be joining us on the blog tomorrow as our guest do come back and find out more about her writing.