A BOOK AND A CHAT WITH BARBARA RIDLEY
Link to broadcast of Barbara Ridley
Barbara Ridley is the author of When It’s Over, a literary novel set in Europe in World War II, published by She Writes Press in September 2017.
Originally from London, U.K., she has lived in California for over 35 years. She loves the San Francisco Bay Area which is now her home, and likes to spend as much time as she can in the great outdoors.
She was born in London and grew up in a tiny village in Sussex. She attended the University of Sussex and then the North London School of Nursing. She worked for 40 years as a nurse and then a nurse practitioner, specializing in the care of adults with physical disabilities. She has now retired from her day job and is focusing on her writing. She lives in the East Bay with her partner and their West Highland terrier MacDuff.
WHEN IT’S OVERWhen It’s Over is a literary novel set in England during World War II. Lena is a young Czech Jewish woman who manages to reach England and join a group of refugees staying in a small village in Sussex, where they are sponsored by an eccentric upper-class, left-wing English family. As the war progresses, Lena is torn between her attraction to Milton, the landlady’s son, and her loyalty to fellow refugee Otto. She tries to keep hope alive in the face of frightening news reports on the fate of Jews in Nazi-occupied Europe, while Milton is caught up in the political movement that leads to the defeat of Churchill’s Tory Party in 1945, ushering in Britain’s first viable Labour Government.
When It’s Over deals with universal themes of optimism versus pessimism, hope and denial, and the assimilation of immigrants during a time of social upheaval. Although it is a work of fiction, it is based on Barbara’s late mother’s experience as a refugee in the 1940’s.
Barbara was inspired to write the novel after her mother’s death in 2002. There was so much in her story that was too good to lose, but so many details Barbara realized she didn’t know. So as a lover of fiction, she decided to write a novel and make up stuff to fill in the gaps.
But she also did a ton of research. Among other resources, she was able to read her father’s contemporary letters to one of his close friends. The novel offers fascinating insights into some little-known aspects of life during the war, and the history of the progressive political movements in the 30s and 40s. The issues they struggled with then still have resonance today.