Written by Jackie Carreira
My thanks to Jackie Carreira for her Guest Post and to Rachel’s Random Resources for including me in this Blog Blitz.
The year is 1968. The world is changing. Students are protesting, civil rights are being fought and died for, nuclear bombs are being tested, and war is raging in Vietnam.
For three women, life must go on as normal. For them, as it is for most ‘ordinary’ people, just to survive is an act of courage.
Rose must keep her dignity and compassion as a St Lucian nurse in London. Amalia must keep hoping that her son can escape their seedy life in Lisbon. And Mrs Johnson in Washington DC must keep writing to her son in Vietnam. She has no-one else to talk to. Three different women in three different countries. They work, they bring up children, they struggle to make ends meet while the world goes around and the papers print the news. History is written by the winners – and almost all of it has been written by men.
The stories of women like these go unremarked and unwritten so often that we forget how important they are.
TEN THINGS YOU MIGHT NOT KNOW ABOUT 1968
The year 1968 was arguably one of the most turbulent and influential years of the 20th century, and certainly one of the most significant since the end of the Second World War. Although it’s still within living memory for many people, one of the comments I hear most often from readers, even those who were alive in the 60s is: ‘I had no idea that all that was going on.’
Sleeping Through War is set against the backdrop of these momentous world events and tells the story of three ‘ordinary’ women living in extraordinary times. As is often the case with writing historical fiction, I discovered more through researching those times than I could possibly use in one novel. So as not to waste some of those nuggets, here are ten things you might not know about 1968…
1. In 1968, the world’s population was just over 3.5 billion. Today there are 7.7 billion of us. So, if you were born that year, the number of people on the planet has more than doubled in your lifetime. If you’re feeling a bit overcrowded, it’s hardly surprising.
2. In December, the Apollo 8 spacecraft orbited the Moon. Its astronauts became the first humans ever to not only see the far side of the moon, but also the whole of planet Earth. The iconic photograph Earthrise was taken on that voyage. Today we just have to go on to Google Earth to get a look.
3. Other iconic images you might recognise from 1968 are the African American athletes at the Olympic Games in Mexico City raising their fists in support of the civil rights’ movement. Half a century on and African American athletes are still having to protest about the same thing, this time they’re ‘taking a knee!’
4. 2018 marked the centenary of the first women in Britain to get the vote, but it took another fifty years before equality was seriously considered. In May 1968 permission was given for a Bill to be introduced to Parliament to remove discrimination against women, including equal pay for equal work. This was, in part, due to the famous strike that year organised by the women at the Ford Motor works in Essex. Their actions inspired the movie Made in Dagenham. Fifty-one years on and we’re still waiting for equal pay! I wonder what the women at Ford would make of that?
5. The average UK house price was £4,344 and the average annual salary was around £1,660. Today the gap between the two is just a teeny bit wider!
6. It was a good year for the acting profession. Daniel Craig, Naomi Watts, Cuba Gooding Jr, Gillian Anderson, Will Smith and Hugh Jackman were all born in 1968.
7. It was a good year for comedy too. Catherine Tate, Stewart Lee, Al Murray, Jon Culshaw and Lee Mack were all born in 1968
8. It was a bad year for losses of all kinds. Tragically both Martin Luther King Jr and Robert F Kennedy were assassinated in 1968. Other influential people that died that year include blind/deaf campaigner Helen Keller, Nobel Prize-winning author John Steinbeck, and Yuri Gagarin, who was the first human being in space.
9. In November 1968, Yale University in America announced it was going to admit female students for the first time. Meanwhile millions of students around the globe were protesting war in Vietnam, campaigning for civil rights, women’s rights, environmental issues, nuclear protests, holding sit-ins, rallies and sometimes violent demonstrations. Today we see schoolchildren and youths campaigning against gun crime and climate change. They might not be protesting as violently as the youth of 1968, but perhaps the issues they face are even tougher.
10. But 1968 wasn’t all bad. Cliff Richard represented the UK in the Eurovision Song Contest. He came second with Congratulations, losing out to Spain’s winning song, La La La (yes, that’s actually the name of a real song!) by only one point. Hard to believe the UK were ever in the top half of the score board, isn’t it? Ah, those were the days.
(Jackie Carreira 2019)
Tags: literary fiction
- Format: ebook, paperback
- Size: 233 pages
- Publisher: Matador
- Publication Date: 9 January 2018
- Purchase Links: Waterstones
Jackie Carreira is an award-winning novelist, playwright, musician, designer, and co-founder of QuirkHouse Theatre Company. A true renaissance woman, or a Jack of All Trades? The jury’s still out on that one. She grew up in Hackney, East London, but spent part of her early childhood in Lisbon’s Old Quarter. Sleeping Through War was inspired, in part, by some of the women she met when she was young. One of her favourite places to write is the coffee shops of railway stations. Her second novel, The Seventh Train (published by Matador in 2019) was born in the café at Paddington Station. Jackie now lives in Suffolk with an actor, two cats and not enough book shelves.