Warpaint by Alicia Foster is a compelling tale of truth and lies, tragedy and black comedy, loosely based on the lives of four painters of the time.
England, 1942: a dark world of conflict, hardship and subterfuge where information is a matter of life and death and art has become a weapon.
In a gothic villa deep in the woods near Bletchley Park, the 'Black' propaganda team use intelligence to make propaganda designed to demoralise the enemy. For Vivienne Thayer, employed as an artist at the villa, the war has worked out well so far, she has an indulgent husband and a new lover. And while the government quibbles over what cannot be shown officially, at the villa there are no such restrictions - but where does the subterfuge end?
Meanwhile, on the Home Front, three women painters - Laura Knight, Faith Farr and Cecily Browne - have been tasked by the War Artist's Advisory Committee with recording wartime life, brightening the existence of a public starved of culture, and summoning up the bulldog spirit in their art. Together they must battle with the men in power, including Churchill himself, to control the stories that can be told.
As the course of the war turns and the lives of both groups collide, each woman must ask herself what can be revealed and what must be concealed, even from those closest to them.
Alicia Foster grew up in Yorkshire and lives in Kent. She has a PhD in Art History and when she's not writing herself, she teaches art students. Warpaint is her first novel.