The Scarlet Sisters

My nanna’s story of secrets and heartache on the banks of the River Thames

Helen Batten,

The Scarlet Sisters: My nanna’s story of secrets and heartache on the banks of the River Thames
 
 

‘Oh my goodness – another girl Mrs Swain!’
Clara’s normal iron composure broke and she screamed, ‘No! That’s not the bloody deal!’
And that is how my nanna, Bertha Swain, entered the world.

When Helen Batten’s marriage breaks down, she starts on a journey of discovery into her family’s past and the mysteries surrounding her enigmatic nanna’s early life.

What she unearths is a tale of five feisty red heads struggling to climb out of poverty and find love through two world wars. It’s a story full of surprises and scandal – a death in a workhouse, a son kept in a box, a shameful war record, a clandestine marriage and children taken far too soon. It’s as if there is a family curse.

But Helen also finds love, resilience and hope – crazy wagers, late night Charlestons and stolen kisses. As she unravels the story of Nanna and her scarlet sisters, Helen starts to break the spell of the past, and sees a way she might herself find love again.



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