Published by Canelo
Available in ebook and audiobook (28 March 2019)
About the Book
What would you risk for a complete stranger?
When widow Millie Sanger finds injured enemy pilot Lukas Schiller on her farm, the distant war is suddenly at her doorstep. Compassionate Millie knows he’ll be killed if discovered, and makes the dangerous decision to offer him shelter from the storm.
On opposite sides of the inescapable conflict, the two strangers forge an unexpected and passionate bond. But as the snow thaws, the relentless fury of World War Two forces them apart, leaving only the haunting memories of what they shared, and an understanding that their secret must never see light.
As Millie’s dangerous act of kindness sets them on paths they never could have expected, those closest to them become their greatest threats, and the consequences of compassion prove deadly…
A Dangerous Act of Kindness is a beautiful, harrowing love story, perfect for fans of Rachel Hore and Santa Montefiore
You Never Grow Old at the Table
Or how I learnt to relocate a shoulder for A Dangerous Act of Kindness
One of the great pleasures of writing historical fiction is the research. Often it reveals a plot idea that I hadn’t thought of and fleshes out the feelings and actions of a character living in that time period. But the other invaluable source of ideas and inspiration comes from the library in my head where decades of anecdotes and stories are waiting to be tapped.
I discovered the value of these when doing my Master’s degree at Oxford Brookes. Our tutor had this terrifying and brilliant technique of giving us a random subject and, ‘Three hundreds words on that now. I’ll be back in ten minutes.’ At first the tutor group gasped and chatted – within a week we were all heads down and writing hard. We knew we’d have to read our extracts out loud when he came back into the room.
I found the only way to get something intelligible down on paper was to pluck a book from the library in my head, and adapt an anecdote. I often find myself doing the same thing now.
I have a huge advantage. I grew up in a medical family – three generations of doctors and surgeons stretching back to the nineteenth century. My father had spent some time in Italy during the war where he picked up a wonderful saying, ‘A tavola non s’invecchia’, which he roughly translated as, ‘You never grow old at the table’.
All through my childhood and teenage years, the family would gather round to eat and chat for hours at a time. My father was a wonderful raconteur and many of the stories he regaled us with were medical.
A Dangerous Act of Kindness is the story of a lonely young widow who finds an injured German pilot on her remote farm in England at the beginning of the Second World War. She makes the fateful decision to help him. In order for the plot to work, Lukas Schiller’s injury had to be severe enough to prevent him from travelling but also treatable at home. One of my father’s stories gave me the answer.
He was skiing in the 1950s with a group of friends, all orthopaedic surgeons. One of them fell, dislocating his shoulder. The medics gathered round him, each certain they had the perfect technique to relocate his shoulder. One after the other, they tugged away at the poor man until he could stand the pain no longer.
Eventually, he was brought down the mountain in the blood wagon and taken to the clinic in the village. Here the ordinary general practitioner, who clearly dealt with these types of injuries all the time, gave him a sedative, laid him face down on a table and got him to hold a heavy weight. As the muscles relaxed, the shoulder slipped back into place. My heroin Millie doesn’t have a sedative, but she has some powerful poteen.
There’s a second medical anecdote in the book as well, one my brother – also an orthopaedic surgeon now – told me. I don’t want to include a spoiler here but if you don’t spot it when you’re reading the novel, don’t despair. You’ll find the answer in the acknowledgements at the end.
My thanks to Ellie at Canelo for the tour invitation and to LP Fergusson for the fascinating guest post.
About the Author
LP Fergusson grew up on the borders of Wales in a Tudor house on the banks of the River Wye. As a child she longed to go back in history. Now she does, through her writing. She has an MA in Creative Writing from Oxford Brookes University and won the Blackwell’s Prize for MA Creative Writing. Her stories have made a number of shortlists for competitions run by the Orwell Society, Oxfordshire Libraries and Flash500. Her psychological thriller reached the final three of a Quercus/Psychologies Thriller competition and her wartime novel A Dangerous Act of Kindness was Highly Commended in the Caledonia Novel Award 2018. She edits the historical blog With Love from Graz which was featured on BBC Radio Wales, Radio 2 and BBC4’s A Very British Romance with Lucy Worsley. She now lives in an Oxfordshire village beneath the chalk downs where her debut novel is set.