Happy Sunday afternoon lovelies. Today I’m delighted to bring you a guest post ‘The Day the World Came to Gander’ on the blog tour for The English Wife by Adrienne Chinn. Enjoy!
The Day the World Came to Gander
On September 11th, 2001, as the tragic events of 9/11 were unfolding, US airspace was put into lockdown. Hundreds of planes were in the air en route to destinations across the USA, suddenly rerouted to land at the nearest non-US airport. For thirty-eight of those flights, the airport just outside of the small town of Gander, Newfoundland, with a population just under 10,000, was the closest airport. Over the course of the next hours, the planes landed, and when the passengers and crew finally disembarked on the morning of September 12th, 6,700 people walked into Gander International Airport, stranded indefinitely in the middle of an island the locals affectionately call The Rock.
The airport was long past its heyday as a World War II military hub, then a refuelling station for international flights flying between Europe and North America through the middle years of the twentieth century. Anyone who was anyone passed through Gander, including Marilyn Monroe, Fidel Castro and The Beatles. In fact, the first North American soil John, Paul, George and Ringo stepped onto was the tarmac at Gander International Airport in February 1964. Remember that for your next game of Trivial Pursuit!
I was born in Grand Falls-Windsor, 100km from Gander, and have relatives still living there and in the local communities. It wasn’t long before I heard about the “plane people” and how they’d been taken care of by the locals. Cars were lent, barbecues and sightseeing and whale-watching tours organised, medical prescriptions filled, pets taken care of, and private homes opened up for “times” (Newfoundland kitchen parties featuring fiddles and Ugly Sticks*) and accommodation for newlyweds and pregnant mothers. Long-time friendships were crafted and love stories unfolded. The story eventually came to international attention with the arrival on Broadway of the award-winning musical, Come From Away, in 2017.
In The English Wife, London architect Sophie Parry, en route to a life-changing job interview in New York, finds herself in that crowd of 6,700 stranded travellers. Instead of joining the other plane people billeted in local schools, gyms and Salvation Army halls, she decides to look up her estranged aunt Ellie, who had married a Newfoundland soldier during World War II and become one of the thousands of English war brides to start a new life in North America. She hitches a ride on the back of a motorcycle, and her life is never the same again…
*You’ll find out all about Ugly Sticks in The English Wife.
Here’s are some photos of Newfoundland and Newfoundlanders to tempt you, and a video about Gander on 9/11: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8_Ey5ph4wW8
Two women, a world apart.
A secret waiting to be discovered…
VE Day 1945: As victory bells ring out across the country, war bride Ellie Burgess’ happiness is overshadowed by grief. Her charismatic Newfoundlander husband Thomas is still missing in action.
Until a letter arrives explaining Thomas is back at home on the other side of the Atlantic recovering from his injuries.
Travelling to a distant country to live with a man she barely knows is the bravest thing Ellie has ever had to do. But nothing can prepare her for the harsh realities of her new home…
September 11th 2001: Sophie Parry is on a plane to New York on the most tragic day in the city’s history. While the world watches the news in horror, Sophie’s flight is rerouted to a tiny town in Newfoundland and she is forced to seek refuge with her estranged aunt Ellie.
Determined to discover what it was that forced her family apart all those years ago, newfound secrets may change her life forever…
This is a timeless story of love, sacrifice and resilience perfect for fans of Lorna Cook and Gill Paul.
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about 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, she can usually 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 — is published in June 2020. Her debut novel, The Lost Letter from Morocco, was published by Avon Books UK in 2019. She is currently writing her third novel, The Photographer’s Daughters, the first of a 3-book series, to be published in 2021.
tour hosted by
Thanks to Rachel for inviting me on to the tour, and to the author for coming over as a guest.
Have a wonderful day my lovelies
See you tomorrow!