Elizabeth Buchan and The New Mrs Clifton

elizabeth-buchanContinuing the ‘Love me, love my character’ series, I’m delighted to welcome back to the blog Elizabeth Buchan; she very kindly answered a newbie blogger’s questions with much patience and grace. Elizabeth Buchan began her career as a blurb writer at Penguin Books after graduating from the University of Kent with a double degree in English and History. She moved on to become a fiction editor at Random House before leaving to write full time. Her novels include the prizewinning Consider the Lily. A subsequent novel, Revenge of the Middle-Aged Woman became an international bestseller and was made into a CBS Primetime Drama. Later novels included Separate Beds, Daughters and I Can’t Begin to Tell You, a story of resistance in wartime Denmark. Her latest, The New Mrs Clifton, is set in London and Berlin in 1946.

Elizabeth Buchan’s short stories are broadcast on BBC Radio 4 and published in magazines. She reviews for the Sunday Times and the Daily Mail, and has chaired the Betty Trask and Desmond Elliot literary prizes. She was a judge for the Whitbread First Novel Award and for the 2014 Costa Novel Award. She is a patron of the Guildford Book Festival and of The National Academy of Writing, and sits on the author committee for The Reading Agency.

Welcome Elizabeth! Do tell us why you wrote this book
Just after the Second World War, my aunt married a German who she had met before its outbreak. I was not around but I imagine it caused shock waves on both sides of the family. For the novel, I decided to reverse the situation and have Gus, an intelligence officer, returning from Berlin in 1945 to his family house in London with a German bride. Why has he done this? The answer is a lot to do with what war does to men and women, both on the battlefield and on the home front which is what the novel is about.

Why do you think your main characters are like they are?
I have two main characters; firstly, Krista, the traumatized German girl. Until the war, she is making her way, perhaps not thinking very hard about politics and society. After the war, she is left traumatised but with an iron-hard certainty. That is: she is going to survive, whatever it takes. Whereas the English Gus who marries her encounters the worst aspects of human beings in the war and discovers that he can be as guilty of moral slippage as any. 

What do your characters think they are like?
Her experiences teach Krista that, whatever it takes, she is capable of hanging on. She also feels that the real Krista has disappeared, blown away by trauma and violence. Is she correct? Gus imagines that his views on morality and honour will hold fast during the war. It takes him aback to find that they do not. How will he retrieve his former certainties is something which preoccupies him.

Yes, war forces us to look inside at our core and sometimes we discover we’re not as we think we are.

So who is The New Mrs Clifton?
the-new-mrs-cliftonAs the Second World War draws to a close, Intelligence Officer Gus Clifton surprises his sisters at their London home. But an even greater shock is the woman he brings with him, Krista – the German wife whom he has married secretly in Berlin.

Krista is clearly devastated by her experiences at the hands of the triumphant allies – all but broken by horrors she cannot share. But Gus’s sisters can only see the enemy their brother has brought under their roof. And their friend Nella, Gus’s beautiful, loyal fiancée, cannot understand what made Gus change his mind about their marriage. What hold does Krista have over their honourable and upright Gus? And how can the three women get her out of their home, their future, their England?

Haunted by passion, betrayal and misunderstanding these damaged souls are propelled towards a spectacular resolution. Krista has lost her country, her people, her identity, and the ties that bind her to Gus hold more tightly than the sisters can ever understand…


‘So so good. Great writing, great story. I could not put it down.’
– Marian Keyes

Compassionate and gripping’ – Fanny Blake, Woman and Home

‘With vivid historical details and a twist in the tale, The New Mrs Clifton is a gripping, immensely satisfying novel’ – Red


Buying links:  Amazon UK     Amazon US

Connect with Elizabeth:      Website    Twitter @elizabethbuchan


Alison Morton is the author of Roma Nova thrillers, INCEPTIO, PERFIDITAS, SUCCESSIO and AURELIA. The fifth in the series, INSURRECTIO, was published in April 2016.

Find out more about Roma Nova, its origins, stories and heroines…

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