The Greek island of Crete provides the inspiration for the latest book by Langcliffe author Helene Wiggin.

Written under the pen name Leah Fleming, The Girl Under the Olive Tree recalls the occupation of the Greek island during the Second World War and the heroic efforts of a British nurse who tended the wounded and dying.

“The idea for the story started ten years ago when my husband David and I visited the city of Chania and found a little synagogue that had been destroyed during the war and subsequently rebuilt,” said Helene.

“That made me think about what had happened during the Battle of Crete and the island’s four years of occupation.”

Helene’s heroine, Penelope George, is based on a true-life character who was one of the last foreign nurses on the island.

Returning to Crete 60 years after the invasion, Penelope recalls the dark days of the war and is reunited with a friend she thought she had lost forever.

“The book has been described as Captain Corelli meets the Islands,” said Bolton-born Helene, who moved to the Dales more than 30 years ago.

The Girl Under the Olive Tree is her 15th novel and the eighth as Leah Fleming.

“I just love writing,” said Helene, who trained as a teacher, but over the years has done various jobs, including running a café and market stall, teaching aerobics and running workshops in stress management.

She is also a volunteer driver for Settle Library’s books on wheels service.

The Girl Under the Olive Tree is published by Simon and Schuster and is also available as an e-book.

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