Today, I’m delighted to welcome Adrienne Chinn to the blog with a fascinating post about the role of photography in her new book, Love in A Time of War.
Photography plays an important role in Love in a Time of War, the first of three books in The Three Fry Sisters series. In this novel, Gerald Fry, the three sisters’ father, runs a small family photography studio in south London, where he spends his days recording the lives of the local community. Gerald has followed his father, Frederick Fry, into the photography business, and embraces the creativity his profession provides him, even becoming a court photographer for King Edward VII early in his career. His love of photography is shared by his eldest daughter, Celie, whom he trains as his assistant. He encourages her to take the photographs of the steady stream of soldiers wanting portraits to send to their families, despite the fact that the idea of a professional female photographer is considered by many to be odd in the extreme. When Gerald recognises Celie’s talent, he gifts her with a new portable camera and encourages her to explore the world around her and develop her creative “eye”.
For both Addy Percival in The Lost Letter and Celie Fry in Love in a Time of War, photography provides them with the opportunity to experience the world in unique ways and to become self-actualised women. For photographer Addy, she decides to visit Morocco to take photographs for her first photo exhibition, and finds herself deeply involved with an Amazigh family in the Morocco mountains; for Celie, photography is the path through which she grows as a person as her skills lead her to a job as a photojournalist for a London newspaper where she ends up documenting the lives of Londoners during the war years.
I have been fortunate to be exposed to photography from an early age through the albums kept by my great-grandfather, Frederick Fry, who was himself a court photographer for King Edward VII, with one of his tasks being travelling around Britain to record the towns and villages of the day. My great-grandmother, Caroline, often joined him on these adventures, and shows up quite regularly in his photographs, for instance, a country bridge in Ecclestone Glen, or under the shade of trees in a bluebell wood in Sussex. My grandfather also photographed his family quite regularly, and it’s because of him that I have so many wonderful photographs of my grandmother, Edith, and her sister May and brother Fred, as well as my grandmother Caroline and his second wife, Cecilia.
It seemed inevitable, as I sat down to draft out the structure of Love in a Time of War, that one of the main characters would be a photographer, given how key photography has been in my own family’s history. I have always found these portrait photographs of the late 1800s and early 1900s so evocative; if eyes are the window to the soul, then photography opens the window for us in a way that paint can’t quite capture. For a novelist like me, these images send out an invitation to explore and once more bring to life the lives of people who still have things to tell us if we only stop and listen.
I have included a few of my great-grandfather, Frederick Fry’s photographs which helped me reach back and recreate an era that ended long before I was born.
1. My great-aunt, Ethel May Fry, known as May.
2. My grandmother, Edith Adelaide Fry Chinn, in 1904 at the age of 20.
3. My great-grandfather, Frederick Fry, the photographer.
4. My great-step-grandmother, Cecilia Fry.
Thank you so much for sharing such a fascinating post about your new book. Early photographs are so interesting. I’ve just been given one of my great-grandmother from the 1910s. Good luck with the new book.
In 1913, in a quiet corner of London, the three Fry sisters are coming of age, dreaming of all the possibilities the bright future offers. But when war erupts their innocence is shattered and a new era of uncertainty begins.
Cecelia loves Max but his soldier’s uniform is German, not British, and suddenly the one man she loves is the one man she can’t have.
Jessie enlists in the army as a nurse and finally finds the adventure she’s craved when she’s sent to Gallipoli and Egypt, but it comes with an unimaginable cost.
Etta elopes to Capri with her Italian love, Carlo, but though her growing bump is real, her marriage certificate is a lie.
As the three sisters embark on journeys they never could have imagined, their mother Christina worries about the harsh new realities they face, and what their exposure to the wider world means for the secrets she’s been keeping…
Meet the author
Adrienne Chinn was born in Grand Falls, Newfoundland, grew up in Quebec, and eventually made her way to London, England after a career as a journalist. In England she worked as a TV and film researcher before embarking on a career as an interior designer, lecturer, and writer. When not up a ladder or at the computer writing, she often can be found rummaging through flea markets or haggling in the Marrakech souk. Her second novel, The English Wife — a timeslip story set in World War II England and contemporary Newfoundland — was published in June 2020 and has become an international bestseller. Her debut novel, The Lost Letter from Morocco, was published by Avon Books UK in 2019. Her latest novel, Love in a Time of War, set during WWI, is the first in a series of three books based around the changing lives of three English sisters and their half-Italian mother, with a timeslip to 1890s Capri and London.
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