Welcome back to my Novel Noshing series! Today, for the third and final post of the event, I am featuring Jen Gilroy, author of The Sweetheart Locket, dual timeline historical women’s fiction.
Jen Gilroy writes sweet contemporary romance and dual timeline historical women’s fiction—warm, feel-good stories to bring readers’ hearts home.
A Romance Writers of America® Golden Heart® finalist and shortlisted for the Romantic Novelists’ Association Joan Hessayon award, Amazon named her third book, ‘Back Home at Firefly Lake,’ a ‘Best Book of the Month: Romance’ in December 2017.
A dual British-Canadian citizen, Jen lived in England for many years and earned a doctorate (with a focus on British cultural studies and social history) from University College London.
Returning to where her Irish family roots run deep, she now lives with her husband, teenage daughter and floppy-eared rescue hound in small-town Eastern Ontario, Canada.
When not writing, she enjoys reading, ice cream, ballet and paddling her purple kayak.
About the Book/Inspiration–Jen’s own words!
What if the key to your present lies in the past?
From England and France in the Second World War to San Francisco 2019, “The Sweetheart Locket,” is a dual timeline historical women’s fiction story of love, loss & family secrets, intertwined with courage & hope. The family heirloom locket at the centre of the story is inspired by the “sweetheart jewellery” men serving in the armed forces during the war gave to loved ones at home.
Filled with heart, heroism and humanity, reviewers have called the book “a beautiful tale…[of] friendship, love and loss…[and] how three generations of women come full circle and find happiness.”
The Victoria Sponge or Sandwich Cake is a popular and traditional British cake. It’s also my own favourite which I have fond memories of sharing with English family and friends. As part of a book that’s my love letter to Britain, I included references to this cake in “The Sweetheart Locket,” my first primarily British-set story.
When Willow, the American heroine of the contemporary storyline arrives in England for a work trip, she’s also determined to find out about her British grandmother, Maggie’s life, including what she did in the war.
When Willow meets an historian at London’s National Portrait Gallery they have afternoon tea, a special British ritual.
“Willow took a forkful of cake, white with a jam and cream filling…called a Victoria Sponge.”
And as Willow discovers Maggie’s past, including her work as an undercover secret agent in 1940s France, Willow’s life also changes.
As expressed via my fictional Maggie and Willow, one of the book’s core messages is this one:
“Even if it wasn’t in a war, everyone had to fight some kind of battle what mattered is that you came out the other side.”
Victoria Sponge/Sandwich Cake (Traditional British recipe)*
170g (6 oz) butter or margarine
170g (6 oz) caster sugar
3 eggs, lightly beaten
170g (6oz) self-raising flour, sieved
Jam and sieved icing sugar to fill and decorate
Base line and grease two 19cm (7 1/2 inch) sandwich tins
Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees Celsius / 350 degrees Fahrenheit / Gas mark 4
Beat together the margarine and sugar until the mixture is light in colour and fluffy in texture.
Add the eggs to the creamed mixture a little at a time beating thoroughly after each addition.
Add the flour and fold in carefully with a metal spoon.
Divide the mixture equally between the prepared tins. Smooth the top so that the mixture is fairly level.
Bake for 25-35 minutes (or until well risen, golden brown and firm).
Leave in the tins for two to three minutes to cool.
Turn out onto a wire rack.
When cold, sandwich the two cakes together with jam and dust the top with sieved icing sugar.
*This recipe comes from ‘Church House Recipe Book: Love and Charity: Cake Recipes from Hughenden Parish Church, Church House Teas.’ High Wycombe, England: Fairprint, 2004, p.37 (Christine Rose).
For those in the US & Canada, a comparable recipe, using North American measurements, can be found here: https://www.christinascucina.com/victoria-sandwich-traditional-british-afternoon-tea-cake-recipe-for-us-kitchens/
I have got to say…this Victoria Sponge looks so elegant and delicious…seriously! If you make this recipe, or have a similar one that you love, please tell us in the comments.
“The Sweetheart Locket” is currently available in ebook (most vendors) with a paperback following later this year. http://mybook.to/TheSweetheartLocket
Author Jen Gilroy is on Social Media! You can connect with her here:
Thank you so much for stopping by my writer’s block! I had a blast meeting these three authors, and learning about their latest releases. I can’t wait to try all these recipes!
Next month, July, 2022, I will be featuring a series on some of my favorite summer reads, including interviews with amazing authors who wrote the books. I hope you will join me here on my Writer’s Block for that!
Please leave comments below…I love to connect!