It is 1945, and all over England people are looking forward to being at peace again. Except for one woman. For recently married Zelda, peace means the return of her husband, and this is bad news indeed. Zelda has had to marry Charlie Fluck because she was pregnant by him. And the Fluck clan are backed by the unsavoury Holes, at the centre of whose criminal empire sits Ma Hole like a large malevolent toad. Not only is Zelda frightened of her husband - and she has reason to be, having lost her baby due to a bad "fall" when Charlie pushed her down the stairs - but so is her good friend, Zinnia Makepeace, local midwife, herbalist, wise woman and layer out of bodies.
Her house fronts Paradise Gardens, and she has the choicest of garden allotments - both of which Ma Hole is determined to have at any cost. Meanwhile young Tony, Zelda's nephew, is going off the rails. His dad's missing, presumed dead, his mum is in a state, and he's running wild with Bung 'Ole, or Brian Hole as his police records call him.
But Tony can sing. He has, in fact, the voice of an angel. So Zelda arranges for Tony to have singing lessons to straighten him out - and this takes her to Soho, where she meets Maggie and Bert Fetherby who run a cheerful and very busy café in Old Compton Street. When Zelda reads Maggie's cards, and tells her that she can see a baby, she is unprepared for the tears that follow.
For Maggie has always wanted a baby, and it seems that this is the one thing that she and Bert cannot have. Zelda knows there's a solution - but she has reckoned without the trouble now raging back in Paradise Gardens....
©2004 Pip Granger (P)2012 Magna Publishing, Random House Audiobooks
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