**REVIEW** Yesterday by Sheila Norton

A little later than I expected to read it, but I have been very excited to read Sheila Norton’s ‘Yesterday’. As soon as I read the synopsis with the 1960’s era ,and the Mods and Rockers mentioned, I had to add it to my reading list! Being born two decades later, I obviously cannot recall the times myself. But, I always loved family members’ stories of the times, watched documentaries, loved the music and, as a fan of the indie band Blur in the 1990’s, I used to hang on every word frontman Damon Albarn said. And so, as soon as I found out his favourite movie of the time was Quadrophenia, I simply had to watch it. Over the years I have watched it many times, even when it was re-released on cinema. I had the poster on my bedroom wall and listened to The Who’s soundtrack of the movie over and over. And so, Yesterday has opened up that side of me once more and I have to say that the read is fantastic! – Caroline

YesterdayTitle: Yesterday

Author: Sheila Norton

Genre: Period/historical drama (1960’s), mystery, romance, crime

Release date: April 17th, 2014

Length: 286 pages

Blurb: During the riots between the Mods and Rockers in the early Sixties, teenager Cathy finds herself in the wrong place at the wrong time, and the events which follow will haunt her for the rest of her life. Forty years later she’s forced to revisit her past, deal with her unhappy memories and try to find out exactly what did happen back in 1964. 

REVIEW

It is almost 51 years ago since the mayhem and chaos at the seaside resorts of Clacton and Brighton involving the Mods and Rockers, and yet Yesterday keeps the whole era alive with the music, fashions, dialogue, and day-to-day life. Focusing on the life of fourteen year old Cathy, Yesterday delves into her involvement with the Mods and Rockers, her friends and bullies at school, pressure from her mum to get good grades, trouble with her mum’s new male friend, and a violent stabbing that involves someone she knew!

We begin the story in 2004 where Cathy, a journalist and now in her mid-fifties, is given the chance to write a story on the era she knows a great deal about – the Mods and Rockers of the 1960’s. Little does her editor know that she may be able to fill in the blanks of a crime story that would be full of interest in the public eye, as well as opening up some wounds of the past and releasing some ghosts of her own! Yes, this story is certainly personal, just as it is informative.

The reader is then taken back to March, 1963, where Cathy meets Janice Baker. Janice Baker is two years older than Cathy. She is both cool and pretty. Being sixteen and having parents that do not trouble her too much, Janice can almost do what she wants. She wears the fashions, including make-up, and has magazines featuring many bands including The Beatles, which Cathy absolutely loves to look at – especially if Paul McCartney is pictured with those beautiful puppy dog eyes of his! Cathy’s fascination is so exciting to read about, and after travelling home from school regularly on the bus at the same time as Janice they begin to chat about the culture of the day, embarking on a close friendship.

Each chapter is set in a different month from thereon, leading up to the beach fights and afterwards, as we follow the story of a terrible ordeal that Cathy has at Clacton, a stabbing later in Brighton, as well as some home troubles for poor Cathy. We watch her friendship grow with Janice, her romance blossom with her brother’s friend, Jimmy, and her relationship with her mum take a downward spiral when she finds out what her mum has been quiet about for some time.

The mystery of the story is surrounding the stabbing at Brighton. Janice’s Mod ex-boyfriend, Ian, is the victim but the culprit is yet to be determined. After the violence and Cathy’s ordeal from the first beach fight in Clacton, Cathy believed all of her friends and her brother had stayed away this time. However, Cathy has a bad feeling about this, especially since it was Ian that brought on her ordeal in Clacton! Could it simply be his stabbing was a result of yet another fight between many Mods and Rockers who just lost it with each other and things got out of hand? Or was it that somebody intentionally stabbed him? Could it have been someone she knew? And, could it have been anything to do with her ordeal?

After her ordeal in Clacton, she ran to meet with her Rocker brother, Derek. However, when he wasn’t at the café he said he would be at, Cathy stayed there waiting for him to show. She was trying to cope with the teasing and taunts from the Rockers (as she was dressed as a Mod!), when a lad with Paul McCartney’s soft, brown eyes defended her, and offered to walk her to the station so she could get home safely. This is Jimmy. Lovely, sweet Jimmy, and a Rocker friend of her brother’s. And this is the beginning of an attraction between them. She becomes closer to Jimmy as he turns up ‘looking for Derek’ a few times at her home, and they begin to see each other over time.

But, he is her secret. As Janice would say, there’s no way you can go out with a greasy Rocker. She can’t be seen in public with him, or even tell Janice about him. She would be outcast and taunted forever if her friends knew. Cathy begins to realise that Mods and Rockers do not mix – you are either one or the other (in the eyes of her friends). But, she finds this ridiculous, as does Jimmy and her brother. But, she soon learns the hard way, and risks losing everything – Janice and Jimmy! Will their friendship, and love, survive? What can Cathy do to keep it all running smoothly?

The characters of Yesterday are all brilliant and realistic. One of my favourite characters of the story is Cathy’s brother, Derek, a Rocker. He is a caring older brother, looking out for her when he can, buying her the occasional record (even if it is a Mod one!) that she’d never be able to afford with her little pocket money, and even letting her play it on his record player when he was out. This shows the sort of relationship they had – they were very close and didn’t really care deep down whether you were a Mod or a Rocker.

And then there is Cathy’s other school friend, Linda. Linda was always seen as ‘square’ and didn’t really fit in either category. She was happy doing her own thing, being an individual. And, besides, she was too busy looking after her ill mother. But when Cathy began her friendship with Janice, Cathy began to leave Linda behind, only to realise later that Linda was very mature and didn’t get wrapped up with whose side to be on, what group to belong to, etc.

Yesterday is well-researched and has a fantastic feel of the era with perfect, realistic characters to draw the reader in. It is written so well it is easy to visualise the story with many references to the times, with social and financial aspects in particular. There is great dialogue between the characters with a real British 1960’s charm. Pop culture and fashions are mentioned but are not overdone, allowing the reader to really enjoy the fantastic narrative running through the book!

A copy of Yesterday was provided by the author in return for an honest and fair review.

Yesterday is available at Amazon UK and Amazon US.

Reviewed by Caroline Barker

Yesterday by Sheila Norton – Blog Tour (cover, synopsis, author post/pic plus links)

YESTERDAY cover jpegAs a fan of British culture of the 1960’s I was so excited when I was asked to be a part of the blog tour for YESTERDAY by Sheila Norton. I love the music (of both mods and rockers) and was a huge fan of Quadrophenia when I watched it as a teen in the mid 90’s! I feel that this will be quite a thrilling read for most that love this era and cannot wait to sink my head into all of the drama and clashes between the mods and the rockers!!

“Music, Mayhem, Mods and Rockers…

Set against the backdrop of the violent clash between mods and rockers at Clacton-on-Sea in 1964, YESTERDAY is the brand new novel from acclaimed author Sheila Norton, published as an eBook this Easter to coincide with the 50th anniversary of that notorious conflict.

Blurb: During the riots between the Mods and Rockers in the early Sixties, teenager Cathy finds herself in the wrong place at the wrong time, and the events which follow will haunt her for the rest of her life. Forty years later as a middle-aged journalist, she’s forced to revisit her past, deal with her unhappy memories and try to find out exactly what did happen back in 1964.

I am delighted to introduce you to the author of Yesterday, Sheila Norton, who has taken the time to write a fantastic and informative author post of the background and setting of the novel. We hope you enjoy it as much as we did! – Caroline

The 1960s as the background to a novel

Although I grew up during the 1960s myself, and have always looked back at that era as being an interesting and exciting time, writing my new book YESTERDAY, which is set in the Sixties, really brought home to me just how much our country, and indeed the world, changed during that decade.

Sheila Norton 60sThe most obvious example was pop music. Up till then, most of the big stars were American. It’s true we produced our own big favourites – Tommy Steele, Cliff Richard, Billy Fury – but the whole phenomenon of Rock ’n’ Roll had originated in the States, and most pop singers owed more to Elvis Presley than anyone else. And then – along came the Beatles, and fast behind them, a whole swathe of other groups, producing their distinctive Merseyside sound. It was fresh, it was different – they were writing a lot of their own songs and they seemed to capture the mood of the Sixties teenagers with their light, catchy, beat numbers and their informal stage performances. The Beatles were a phenomenal success in the UK, but more significantly, once they went on tour, they conquered the world: Australia, Europe, Asia and America saw scenes of absolute mayhem as hysterical fans came out in their thousands to see ‘the Fab Four’.

The result was that England suddenly became ‘cool’. English pop songs were hits around the world, and even minor English groups were able to take advantage of the popularity their accents seemed to grant them abroad. Like a phoenix rising from the ashes, our nation – still recovering from post-war poverty – began to flourish again. ‘England swings!’ proclaimed the lyrics of a hit song in 1965, performed by Roger Miller, an American country singer, and according to the editor of Vogue magazine: ‘London is the most swinging city in the world at the moment.’

London’s popularity and its new title of ‘Swinging London’ owed a lot to the new youth-centric fashion scene, particularly Carnaby Street, which was first known for its Modernist fashions, snapped up by the original Mods at the very beginning of the Sixties but which later became a mecca for tourists from around the world. Fashion designer Mary Quant is credited with inventing the mini skirt, and other icons of the time were models Jean Shrimpton (known as both ‘the face of the Sixties’ and ‘the symbol of Swinging London’) and later, Twiggy, and Cathy McGowan (‘the Queen of Mod’), who hosted the TV music programme ‘Ready Steady Go!’ All these became international legends.

Such was the height of worldwide interest in the Brit scene by the mid-Sixties that even our Union Jack flag became a popular symbol, appearing on all manner of consumables. Winning the football world cup on our home ground in 1966 seemed to sum up all that had gone before. Britain had shown the world we’d shaken off the misery of war and the deprivation of rationing.

Back in 1957, Prime Minister Harold MacMillan had told us we’d ‘never had it so good’ – assuring us: ‘You will see a state of prosperity such as we have never had in my lifetime – nor indeed in the history of this country’. For some, back then in the Fifties, it would have been hard to believe this. But during the Sixties, MacMillan’s optimism finally seemed justified.

For teenagers like myself – and Cathy in YESTERDAY – it was in the Sixties that young people first had our own fashions, our own music, and our own places to go (coffee bars, dance halls). Becoming a Mod or a Rocker was all part of the excitement of the time. Most of us weren’t interested in the fighting between the groups. But there was violence – it kicked off at Clacton-on-Sea in 1964, fifty years ago this Easter, and it forms a lot of the background to the story of YESTERDAY. I hope my readers will enjoy Cathy’s story as well as the historical background to this new book.

YESTERDAY by Sheila Norton is available as a Kindle e-book from Amazon from 17 April 2014, price £1.99.

Sheila Norton

About the author:

 shelia Sheila Norton grew up in 1960s in Romford, Essex where she spent her teenage years collecting 45s and dating boys with scooters.  Sheila is still a card-carrying member of the original Beatles Fan Club and draws inspiration from her own experiences of the 60s in her most recent writing.YESTERDAY is Sheila’s twelfth novel, she has been published by Little Brown/Piatkus (as Sheila Norton and as Olivia Ryan) and also enjoys a successful self-publishing career

 

Links:

You can follow Sheila Norton and all info on Yesterday on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/YesterdayTheBook

Yesterday is also available on Amazon UK and Amazon US (please click on the Amazon links to take you directly to the Yesterday page.)

We all hope you enjoyed this post, and checking out Sheila Norton’s ‘Yesterday’. We will be reviewing it a little later in the year. Have a fantastic Easter.

Caroline & Tina, A Reader’s Review Blog 🙂

All blogs taking part in the Yesterday blog tour are as follows:

17th April: http://compellingreads.co.uk

18th April:www.brookcottagebooks.blogspot.com

19th April: http://mebookshelfandi.co.uk

20th April: www.areadersreviewblog.com

21st April:  http://erins-choice.blogspot.co.uk

22 April : http://theromaniacgroup.wordpress.com/

23 April: www.jeanfullerton.com/jean’s-blog

24 April: http://fenellamiller.blogspot.co.uk/

25 April: http://authorsophia.wordpress.com