Helen Batten

The Scarlet Sisters
  • The Scarlet Sisters

  • ‘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.

Helen Batten is the Sunday Times bestselling author of Sisters of the East End. She studied history at Cambridge and then journalism at Cardiff University. She went on to become a producer and director at the BBC and now works as a writer and a psychotherapist. She lives in West London with her three daughters.

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