Last Thursday, we celebrated the book launch of The Very White Of Love at the Special Forces Club in Knightsbridge. So I wanted to share some photographs. It was the perfect venue for a love story set in World War Two. As someone said, it feels like something out of the 1940’s, with the black and white photographs of legendary SOE agents lining the staircases.
My father was one of SOE’s agents. He parachuted into Greece in 1943, where he helped save the lives of 7,000 Italians stranded in the Pindus mountains. He and my mother were founder members of the club, which was set up in 1948, for the surviving SOE agents. My parents were lifelong members, and much loved there. Interestingly, it was the first private members club in London to have women members. Not a surprise, as some of the bravest and most famous agents, were women. Among them were such legendary figures as Violette Zvabo and Nor Inyat Khan, an Indian princess who died after being tortured in France. Luckily, I had to do nothing so dangerous! As the son of an SOE operative I am allowed to be a family member.
Je Leve Mon Verre!
There were about 35 of us. Friends, colleagues, my agent and my wonderful editor at Harper Collins, Charlotte Mursell. After a welcoming drink, I gave a short speech about the background to the book. Then, I toasted Martin and Nancy with the words they loved to use together: Je Leve mon verre! After that, Martin Frieth, nephew of Martin Preston, gave a moving speech. He was there with his wife, Avril, who helped me enormously with background to the Preston-Graves family and Whichert House. Martin said that, among other things, he had learned a lot about his family! The Big Green Bookshop in Islington very generously came to manage book sales. And I signed about twenty. After the reception, we went on to one of our favourite restaurants, Daquise, in South Kensington. So, a wonderful evening was had by all!