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The Finest Years and Me

by Mark Woodburn

Historical fiction sequel. Winston Churchill and his former orderly, Jamie Melville, are reunited in 1942, with no less than the fate of the world at stake...

‘Well, my boy. The time has come.’ ‘What do you mean?’ ‘For the laddie from Gorgie Road to meet a President.’

It is 1942, and the war is not going well for Britain. Winston Churchill faces enemies across the world, inside his own parliament, and within his very body and soul. His former ‘batman’ Jamie Melville, having left London in 1919 to build a life of his own, has been struck with a bitter tragedy.

It takes an unexpected proposal from the Minister of Information to return Jamie to London, to stand beside his old colonel at his time of greatest need. From the murky underground corridors of Whitehall to Washington D.C. and the Oval Office itself, Jamie is at the centre of high-end decision making, intrigue, treachery and betrayal. Amidst it all, he encounters the beguiling Meredith Macaulay, who has Jamie ultimately questioning his own values.

It was redemption that originally brought this odd couple together. Now, twenty-five years later, Jamie Melville may unwittingly hold the key that will help to win the Allies victory – and deliver Winston, and Britain, to their finest hour.


Mark Woodburn was born in Edinburgh, 1968, and grew up in Scotland, Canada and South Africa. His colourful employment history includes work in forestry, pet food, ladies' fashion, risk analysis and as a part-time soldier in the Royal Corps of Transport. He currently lives in West Lothian, with his wife and daughter, and is a season ticket holder at Heart of Midlothian Football Club.

Mark's first novel Winston and Me, featuring the legendary Winston Churchill circa World War One, was the first unsolicited fiction submission to be taken on by Valley Press, and was published in 2012. A sequel, The Finest Years and Me, featuring the same characters reunited in World War Two, followed in November 2015.

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Ex Libris

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David Hughes shared his love of English Literature with hundreds of students during his thirty years of teaching. His own writing – around two hundred finished poems – was for the most part unknown, its ‘diffident, modest’ author only occasionally seeking publication.

Ex Libris is, therefore, a long-awaited first chance for readers to appreciate the breadth and depth of a truly remarkable body of work. Selected and edited with great care by Antony Dunn, the poems are illuminated by a compelling introduction, offering ‘a little privileged insight’ into the circumstances surrounding their creation.

Displaying a fascinating, original approach to subjects such as the impact of war on the individual, the mountainous landscapes of northern Europe and the ecology of school, Ex Libris is a major publication which introduces a significant new voice into the canon of British poetry.


“If you only discover one writer this year, make it David Hughes – his is a poetry of generous precision, grace and gratitude.” — Helen Mort

“A wonderful collection by a poet whose work has been saved from oblivion by an act of love.” — Brian Patten


Edition: Paperback

Date Published: 2015-11-19

ISBN: 9781908853561

Catalogue Number: VP0073

Number of Pages: 320

Cover design by Jamie McGarry

Cover photograph by H.A. Mason

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