Pattern of Shadows

In March 1944, the war is taking its toll on 22-year-old nursing sister Mary Howarth – rows are tearing her family apart, air raids are hitting nearby Manchester and the darkness of the blackout is smothering her. Her younger sister Ellen says she should be having a good time while she can, but her job at a prison camp for the housing and treatment of German POWs, rewarding as it is, leaves little time for pleasure. And there is the added worry of her much-loved brother Tom who is suffering the indignity of imprisonment at Wormwood Scrubs where he is reviled as a Conscientious Objector.

Mary feels trapped by her responsibilities at home and is tired of hearing from everyone that she is ‘married to her job’. So when Frank Shuttleworth, a guard at the camp, turns up at the Howarth house and reveals that he has been watching Mary for weeks with an eye to walking out with her, she is more than a little flattered. Frank, a southerner who claims he was invalided out of the army after being injured at Dunkirk, is a good-looking man alright and, for the first time in years, she starts to feel alive. But there’s something about Frank that she doesn’t understand and doesn’t like…

He detests her nursing ‘Huns’ even though to Mary, ‘patients are patients whoever they are’, and his simmering aggression starts to drive a wedge between them. When violence finally erupts and Mary gives him his marching orders, Frank is not the kind of man to take no for an answer.

‘You’ll not get rid of me that easily,’ he warns.

And when he discovers that Mary is about to embark on an affair with Peter Schormann, a German doctor at the POW camp, Frank determines to exact a deadly revenge…

  Read an extract »



“Barrow beautifully evokes those raw and edgy days with this well-paced, gritty love story that draws in some of the issues of the time including family, sexual and labour relationships, unmarried mothers-to-be, censorship, pacifism in a time of war and fraternisation with the enemy. This is her first adult novel and it continues Honno’s record of publishing women’s works not just because they are by women, but because they are good.”
Steve Dube – Western Mail

“Judith Barrow has written, with great intensity of emotions, an absorbing saga which charges along, tempting the reader from chapter to chapter. The book is easy to read, having good sized print and well laid out pages. As well as an engrossing tale, there is considerable, well researched detail about life in Britain in the mid-nineteen-forties. Life in a hospital ward at that time is also described convincingly and is a reminder of how life has changed in the past sixty years.”
Beryl Thomas – (Welsh Books Council)

“Barrow’s thoughtful and atmospheric novel shines a light on the shadowy corners of family life and strife, as well as exploring human concepts like friendship, love and respect.  A well-written and very wise first novel…”
Pam Norfolk – Lancashire Evening Post

“The tension builds cleverly and the many threads in this rich mix of well-drawn characters and imminent dangers, combined with the strong sense of the deprivations and darkness of the wartime period, come together to create a gripping read.”
Tivy-side Advertsier

“No ordinary love story; not only does Judith Barrow perfectly evoke a sense of time and place, but she deftly weaves in issues that speak across generations… An intelligent, poignant first novel brimming with intricate observations of the human condition.”
Jan Fortune-Wood


4 Responses to Pattern of Shadows
  1. Heather Burnside
    December 31, 2015 | 12:25 pm

    I bought this a few days ago, Judith, and I am looking forward to reading it when it works its way up my tbr pile. 🙂

    • Judith Barrow
      December 31, 2015 | 12:59 pm

      Oh, thank you, Heather. I do hope you like it. Much appreciated.Jx

      • Heather Burnside
        December 31, 2015 | 1:34 pm

        You’re welcome. I’m looking forward to reading it. 🙂

  2. Judith Barrow
    December 31, 2015 | 1:38 pm

    Thanks Heather.Jx

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