A Canadian Love Letter to Britain

Posted on 22nd April, 2022


This week, I'm delighted to welcome Jen Gilroy to my blog to talk about her new dual-time novel, The Sweetheart Locket, which was published recently. Jen writes warm-hearted stories which explore relationships, family life and the ways in which people face challenges.


The Sweetheart Locket: My love letter to Britain and British people

When Susanna invited me to write a guest post about my new book, The Sweetheart Locket, it felt as if the story had come full circle.

When I visited Susanna in Llandudno in July 2019, I was considering the focus of my next book.

Since I’m interested in British history, she took me to the wonderful Home Front Museum which helped me learn more about life in Britain during the Second World War.

At that museum, I discovered the ‘sweetheart jewellery’ men serving in the armed forces in both World Wars gave to loved ones at home.


From there, ideas for The Sweetheart Locket, a story where a treasured Royal Air Force sweetheart locket connects past and present, developed.

It’s my first primarily British-set book, my first women’s fiction title and my first historical dual timeline, set between the Second World War and 2019. Amongst all these ‘firsts,’ it’s also a book celebrating my affection for British people, life and landscapes.



As Willow, the American heroine of the contemporary story, reflects when she arrives in England for a work trip and hoping to find out more about her family’s history:

The past was intertwined with the present here in a way it wasn’t in California.’

That ‘past’ is part of my own too having lived for many years in London and Berkshire where much of the book is set.

Both Willow, and Maggie, the heroine of the historical story, live in London’s Bloomsbury area, a neighbourhood I first fell in love with as a Canadian postgraduate student at University College London (UCL).

Little Brimford, the fictional Berkshire village that features in both stories, reflects my own experience of living in the Thames Valley and country walks and visits to historic properties in that beautiful part of England.


People and culture

The Sweetheart Locket also celebrates British people.

From wartime bravery, including women’s clandestine work for the Special Operations Executive (SOE), to the British sense of humour, Victoria Sponge Cake and many more, my characters represent and express things that I, an outsider, value about British life.

Being British is about more than tea and cake. It’s a way of looking at and being in the world and a way of keeping going through good times and bad.’


Family and friendship

Along with a romance in both the historical and contemporary strands, The Sweetheart Locket is a story of family, friendship and secrets—some extending across generations.

It’s also about repairing fractured family relationships, building new families and strong female friendships. The latter like friendships I share with Susanna and other British authors.

We might not be a family by birth but we’re a family by choice, a patchwork family.’



A theme that runs through all my writing is one of finding home. And, like my fictional characters, I’ll always have two homes.

Because ‘maybe you never truly [know] where [home] is until you [leave].’


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For a limited time, the Kindle edition of The Sweetheart Locket is on sale on Amazon UK for only 99p. Find out more and get a copy here:

The Sweetheart Locket on Amazon




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Comments (3)

Thank you, Jan. Lovely to 'see' you here on Susanna's blog. I appreciate your interest in 'The Sweetheart Locket' and hope you enjoy reading it. x
I love the sound of your new novel, Jen, and the fact that the idea for the story developed from a visit to the Home Front Museum with Susanna. I’ve just downloaded ‘The Sweetheart Locket’ and can’t wait to read it.
Thank you so much for featuring my new book (and me) on your blog, Susanna. I treasure our friendship in writing and life, and since you had such a great influence on this particular book, this post is extra special to me. xx