Helena Schrader's Historical Fiction

Dr. Helena P. Schrader is the author of 24 historical fiction and non-fiction works and the winner of more than 53 literary accolades. More than 34,000 copies of her books have been sold. For a complete list of her books and awards see: http://helenapschrader.com

For readers tired of clichés and cartoons, award-winning novelist Helena P. Schrader offers nuanced insight into historical events and figures based on sound research and an understanding of human nature. Her complex and engaging characters bring history back to life as a means to better understand ourselves.

Tuesday, May 16, 2023

The Characters of "Moral Fibre" - Fiona Barker

  The female protagonist of "Moral Fibre," Georgina, faces feisty opposition to her plans and dreams from her best friend, Fiona. A woman ahead of her time, Fiona doesn't think women should be financially or emotionally dependent on men.She wants her own career and she's determined to stand on her own to feet. Yet she's an attractive young lady too, and our hearts aren't always obedient to our minds.

Excerpt 1:

“Dear Kit,” the letter opened.

These last two weeks have been the most terrible of my life. I have watched Georgina sink in a flood of her own tears, hardly able to breathe for grief. She is wasting away for lack of food and sleep, and nothing will console her. Watching her, holding her, trying to comfort her has made me realise how terrible this thing called ‘love’ really is. My beautiful friend is being destroyed by it. I know that she will never be the same. Oh, I know, time heals all wounds, but Georgina will bear the scar of what Don has done to her for the rest of her life.

“I hope that the time will come, when she realizes that the only one to blame for her misery is the man who so callously shattered her happiness with his selfish ego! Don and his pretensions of being better than everyone else! His anachronistic, aristocratic notions of ‘duty’ and ‘honour’ have killed a beautiful, fragile, and utterly selfless butterfly” Fiona’s anger was evident in the deep grooves her ball-point pen had impressed upon the heavy stationary.

“Watching Georgina suffer, made me see more clearly than before why I would not and could not ever commit myself to you. I am determined not to let you break my heart and scar me for life. The best way to ensure that doesn’t happen, is never to see each other again.

“It makes no difference to me that you don’t share Don’s class delusions of superiority. Nor does it matter that you have refused to fly any more operations. Georgina tells me such a refusal is very serious and could result in some sort of disciplinary action. I hope that whatever they do to you isn’t too terrible, because I think you are only being sensible not to want to fly any further operations.

“However, I told you before you started this second tour that I thought it was foolish and unnecessary. You wouldn’t listen to me. It hurt me terribly that you insisted on doing this thing that I knew was wrong for you. And though I did not see it at once, I now know that our relationship was doomed the moment you would not listen to me. In that moment, you put your self-image as some sort of storybook hero ahead of a meaningful relationship with me.  It doesn’t change anything that you have now learnt the hard way that I was right.

“So, this is good-bye, Kit. I honestly wish you all the best. At least now you won’t die for some silly dream of being a hero, and maybe next time you’ll listen, when a woman tells you something for your own good.

“Sincerely, Fiona.”

Fiona like Georgina is training to be a teacher, and she's extremely good at it. She's not just top of her class in the theoretical subjects, when she starts her apprentice teaching she soon shines. She has not only energy and ideas, she's also practical and thick-skinned enough not to worry about being liked. The result is almost instant success and a job offer.

But Fiona is also a rebel. She resents the restrictions placed on women. She wants to have a career. She hates men who are more focused on her looks than her brain. She is not yet interested in a serious relationship. Although she dates Kit Moran for several months, she breaks up with him shortly after Don's death for the reasons listed in the letter cited above.

Her strong views mean that she thinks she knows what is best for Georgina, too. When she learns that Georgina is writing to Kit, she disapproves. She firmly believes Georgina should not get involved with any one again so soon after losing Don. She thinks Georigina should "stand on her own two feet" and learn to be independent. She fails to understand the depth of Georgina's feelings much less Georgina's great emotional strength. 

She also underestimates her own needs for affection. 

Excerpt 2:

They reached the bar and Adrian asked what she was drinking. Fiona asked for cider, and Adrian ordered for her. When it came, he passed it to her, saying, “We were talking about what you wanted in a relationship.”

“Oh, that’s not important. I just wanted to get your attention.”

He smiled softly. “Well, you have it. Tell me more.”

“It’s just —” suddenly she didn’t feel as sure of herself as when she was lecturing other girls. In fact, she felt a little confused, but she tried to explain. “It’s just that it seems to me that people — all people, men and women — have different talents and gifts. I mean, your father is apparently a brilliant barrister, but you are an architect. Another man is skilled as a writer or a mechanic or at mathematics. We seem to accept that each has a role to play regardless of their chosen field, but women — we’re all supposed to good obedient wives and loving mothers. We aren’t allowed to be anything else.”

“It certainly has been that way in the past,” Adrian conceded, nodding thoughtfully. “But I think that’s changing. I know that I’d rather have a wife who can talk about something other than nappies or fashion.” He tried to make it a joke but didn’t quite pull it off.

Still, Fiona appreciated his attempt at understanding. “It’s a little more than that, really,” she tried to explain. “What I’d like is to follow my own dreams. I’d like a career and income of my own. I suppose what I’m saying, when you get down to it, is: I want to find a partner who understands me and loves me the way I am, with all my warts and pimples, ambitions and bad habits.”

Adrian nodded seriously. “I think that is what we all want, but finding someone like that isn’t easy — for men or women. Frankly, I don’t think any woman could accept me with all my faults.”

What faults could this exquisitely handsome, gentle and well-mannered man possibly be hiding? Fiona wondered. She could not believe his flaws were anything truly terrible. He probably set too-high standards for himself, and what he considered “weaknesses” were simply things that made him more human and interesting.

Fiona found the humble and melancholy young man a thousand times more attractive than the self-confident and brash young men she had met at other dances. She felt a powerful desire to get to know Adrian better. His gaze had drifted into the distance again, so she called his attention back to her, “Adrian.” When he looked down at her questioningly, she risked being very bold. “You’ll never know if you can be loved faults and all unless you give me a chance to get to know you better.”





  1. I like the reviews of these two novels about the Second World War. I wondered if someone could dissect my novel about the Second World War (based on my dad's exploits in it) with this much knowledge and understanding of the issues.

    1. Johanna, please contact me via email at: hps_books@yahoo.com