However, destiny intervenes when she meets Alex Brandon, a local farmer, by the shores of Buttermere. Drawn to Elsa's artistic prowess, Alex requests her to paint his portrait as a parting gift for his worried parents, explaining he has enlisted. She agrees, and as they spend time together by the lake amidst the summer breeze, love blossoms.

As Alex departs to serve his country, their connection deepens through the exchange of heartfelt letters. When he arrives home for Christmas, he presents the portrait to his parents. Little does Elsa know that this artistic endeavour will open doors for her beyond the confines of her village. Before he returns to war, Alex has something to ask her. Will the approaching new year bring unparalleled joy, or will it usher in unexpected heartbreak?

A poignant and evocative 20th century historical fiction tale of love and resilience which reveals that even during the darkest moments, art illuminates the path.
Perfect for fans of Laura Hillenbrand, Kate Lord Brown, and Deborah Swift.

A delightful light romance just the thing for Christmas relaxation. The story of Alex and Elsa, despite the tragic outcome (you just knew, as you were reading that he wasn’t going to make it) was uplifting in its recognition of a nation’s sacrifice. The rural setting emphasised what could have been lost if Hitler had succeeded. When I reached the “Afterword” I was delighted to discover that a new novel with Elsa’s great niece as the main character is coming soon! The evocative descriptions of the area around Buttermere made me want to revisit the Lake District. Can’t wait to discover what happens next!

What Readers Are Saying...

After a fairly frantic day of Christmas preparations, this lovely novella was just what I needed. It's set in the beginning of the war in the Lake District, a sweet but realistic romance. Grab a half hour alone and treat yourself to this quick, holiday read.

5 stars A Sweet Novella

5 stars Lovely Boxing Day read

Against the tumultuous backdrop of World War II, eighteen-year-old Elsa Austen, a young and aspiring artist, struggles to find her own path in life. Hindered by her father's expectations, Elsa's dreams of attending art college are dismissed in favour of a more conventional path - an advantageous marriage.


Christmas Painting