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Dear Reader

Dear Reader #92

Dear Reader,

Book five in my Eve’s War Heroines of SOE series, Operation Sherlock is now available for pre-order 🙂

“Arthur is concerned about the Nazis’ latest terror weapon,” Guy said. “Rockets; they have the potential to cause death, destruction and chaos in Britain. He wants us to locate the launch site so that the RAF can bomb it.”

“How do we achieve that?” I asked.

“The Resistance in Paris think that they have identified the site,” Guy said. “Arthur wants us to confirm their suspicions.”

“Why doesn’t the local Sherlock network deal with this?” Mimi asked.

“Recently,” Guy said, “the Gestapo captured their wireless operator. Their network is in chaos. Trust is at a low ebb.”

I glanced at Mimi and noticed her pale, drawn features. As our wireless operator, she lived under constant stress; each transmission represented a moment of potential capture.

A trip to Paris sounded sublime. However, Mimi’s troubled expression reminded me that we were travelling into danger, potentially to our deaths.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Operation-Sherlock-Eves-Heroines-Book-ebook/dp/B08Y978SM6/

Electric cars are nothing new. Here’s one being charged in 1912.

From April 1807, Freedom of the City Admission Papers signed by my 4 x great grandfather James Richard Brereton of Shoe Lane, Fleet Street, London. Several of my ancestors signed these papers and entered into apprenticeships, in this case as a cutler. 

The text on this document is difficult to read, but basically it says that the apprentice was not allowed to visit taverns, gamble with cards or dice, fornicate or marry. Basically, he had to work for his master for seven years and not have any fun.

Later, James took his trade on the road as a tinker, marrying and establishing a family in Bristol. Sadly, he died shortly before his daughter, my 3 x great grandmother, Fanny, was born.

From our family archive, my great aunt Joan, 1924. I’ve studied this picture for years and still can’t decide if that’s her brother Roy at her side or a doll. What do you think?

My latest translations, Betrayal into French and The Devil and Ms Devlin into Spanish.

This week I discovered that my 12 x great grandfather, Rev Peter James Dent (1600 – 1671), was an apothecary 🙂

“Give me an ounce of civit, good apothecary, to sweeten my imagination.” – King Lear.

Picture: Italian pharmacy, 17th century (detail).

My 8 x great grandmother, Mary Troutbeck nee Ollyer, was the licensee at the Queen’s Head Inn, Gray’s Inn Lane, London. A young widow, she was a party to this case, heard at the Old Bailey on 22 May 1776.

Eighteenth century trial at the Old Bailey

The full trial account taken from the records at https://www.oldbaileyonline.org/

JAMES LECORES and WILLIAM GODFREY were indicted for stealing twenty-nine guineas, a half guinea, and eight shillings and six-pence in money numbered, the property of Daniel Dance , and a bank note for 20 l. the property of the said Daniel in the dwelling house of Mary Troutbeck, widow, May the 6th. (Approximately £3,000 in today’s money).

DANIEL DANCE sworn.

I live at Camberwell: I lost a 20 l. bank note, twenty-nine guineas, a half guinea, and eight shillings and six-pence at Mrs. Troutbeck’s, the Queen’s Head Inn, Gray’s-inn-lane ; I took the money to Mr. Child’s at Temple-bar; the office was shut up; I came away, and while I was looking up at a house near Temple-bar, Godfrey came up and said, Farmer, what are you looking at? I told him I came to pay my rent to my landlord, and the office was shut up; he said he came out of Kent to a lawyer, and he supposed he was too late to meet with him; we walked together and he talked of some people in Kent; he mentioned the names of several I was well acquainted with; I said I would carry the money to Mr. Silway’s chambers, for I would not carry it back again; he said he would go with me and shew me his chambers; we went up Chancery-lane and crossed Holborn into Gray’s-inn-lane; we went about two hundred yards up and down, and then he said, if I would go into a public house we might have intelligence; we went into a public house, and he called for six-penny worth of Crank, and he asked me if I would sit down; I sat down, and in came the other prisoner and pulled out a purse of money, and said he had drank fourteen glasses of brandy that morning standing; he said he was a captain just come home: we went out from there, and he said he would shew me the way to Mr. Silway’s chambers; then we went into Mrs. Troutbeck’s and called for a bottle of wine; they hit my knuckles with a half-penny, and then asked me to put the half-penny under a bottle; while I was doing it they took the money out of my pocket; I saw the money in their hand, but they ran away so fast I could not speak; they broke a glass in their hurry in running out; the money was in a bag in my coat pocket.

When they run out you felt in your pocket? – Yes, it was gone; I saw the bag in their hands, and the note was in the bag.

Cross Examination.

Whose hands did you see the money in? – Godfrey’s.

Did you ever see these people before? – Never before; he appeared like a country farmer; I know them as well as any man in the parish I live in; I know Godfrey by his backside; I took him by the tail; I have been always positive to him; he was taken the Tuesday after the Duchess of Kingston’s trial. 

Elizabeth Chudleigh, Duchess of Kingston (8 March 1721 – 26 August 1788), sometimes called Countess of Bristol, was an English noble and courtier, known by her contemporaries for her adventurous lifestyle. She was found guilty of bigamy at a trial at Westminster Hall that attracted 4,000 spectators.

Was that a week or a fortnight after you was plundered? – I believe it was about a fortnight.

You knew the man immediately? – Yes; I pursued him every day; he owned he had the money; his friends offered me thirty pounds.

WILLIAM SWAN sworn.

I live with Mrs. Troutbeck: the prosecutor and three more came into our house on Easter Monday, and asked for a pot of beer; I told them we did not sell beer; then they called for a bottle of wine; I stood in the passage to watch them, lest they should go away and not pay the reckoning; three of them came out very sharp, and put two shillings in my hand; I asked my mistress how much it was, she said two shillings; I went in to see if there were any glasses broke, and met the old farmer coming out; a glass was broke; I asked him if he was to pay for the glass, he said he had lost enough: I know the prisoners are two of the men; they owned before the justice they had the money, but said they got it by gambling.

LECORES’ DEFENCE.

A parcel of people about me desired me to say so, and they would clear me; I was in liquor and did not know what I did.

GODFREY’s DEFENCE.

I leave it to my counsel.

Godfrey called four witnesses, who gave him a good character.

From the Jury to DANCE. Whether they used any other means besides that of the bottle to divert you? – Nothing in the world; there was no gaming.

How long might it be from the time you went in to the time they ran away? – Not above ten minutes.

BOTH GUILTY. Death .

Tried by the First Middlesex Jury before Mr. RECORDER.

The judge sentenced both men to death. However, their cases were respited. On 13 September 1776, after the respite, Lecores and Godfrey came before the court again. This time the judge sentenced them to three years on a hulk. 

The beached convict ship HMS Discovery, at Depford.

The Old Bailey case revealed that the Queen’s Head Inn did not sell beer, but it did sell ‘Crack’ and wine. The inn was situated in Gray’s Inn Lane the road by which Henry Fielding’s Tom Jones entered London. The lane was a popular hub for scholarly, legal and literary people. James Shirley the dramatist resided there and it was the favourite haunt of the poet John Langhorne.

Baptised on 14 November 1717 in Holborn, London, Mary Ollyer was the daughter of Richard Ollyer and Mary Thomas. She married William Troutbeck on 17 August 1739. Their marriage was recorded in the Clandestine Marriages Register, which suggests an air of secrecy. This pattern was often repeated on this branch of my family tree due to religious nonconformity.

William and Mary produced eight children in fourteen years. When William died on 24 March 1753 Mary became the sole owner of the Queen’s Head and with the aid of servants ran the inn, rubbing shoulders with and serving drinks to some of the leading literary figures of the age. No doubt, she talked with these people and discussed their literary projects.

Gray’s Inn Lane, c1878.
(c) Royal Academy of Arts / Photographer credit: Prudence Cuming Associates Limited /

In her autumn years, Mary bequeathed the Queen’s Head Inn to my direct ancestors, Daniel Cottrell and Mary Troutbeck who ensured that the public house prospered into the nineteenth century.

As ever, thank you for your interest and support.

Hannah xxx

Categories
Dear Reader

Dear Reader #83

Dear Reader,

Many thanks to my loyal readers for their pre-orders and for placing Stormy Weather, Sam Smith Mystery Series book eighteen, on the Hot 💯 chart.

Delighted to announce that my Ann’s War series will be translated into French 🙂

More translation news. We started work on two new translations this week both in Spanish: The Devil and Ms Devlin, Sam Smith Mystery Series book fifteen and The Olive Tree: Branches, book two in my Spanish Civil War saga. Many thanks to all my translators for their contributions to our translation projects.

Mom’s Favorite Reads

Happy New Year to All Our Readers!

In our New Year issue…

Surviving the Stone Age

Genealogy: Researching Your Family Tree

Nicolas Winton – The British Schindler 

Meditation

National Hat Day

Stories, Puzzles, Recipes, Humour, Poetry, International Bestsellers and so much more…

20 February 1927, the wedding of Louisa and John, my grand aunt and uncle.

The French Grand Prix, 1906.

Marseille, the setting for my Heroine’s of SOE story, Eve’s War: Operation Zigzag, drawn in 1886.

A Roll of Honour produced by the Powell Duffryn Steam Coal Company in recognition of company officials who served in the First World War.

Ancestry

Three letters from Ken Howe (born 13.3.1919 in Corneli, the son of Billy Howe and Gwendolyne Thomas). In 1940 when the call came Ken responded to the threat of fascism and joined the Queen’s Own Hussars. His letters offer an insight into life at the front and here is the first of them.

30.9.1940

Dear Sis (Priscilla) Handel (brother-in-law) and Clive (nephew),

Thanks for your letter, which I received this morning. Glad to here that you are all okay, as I am. I have just come from dinner, which wasn’t so hot, and after reading about that rabbit my mouth is watering.

Jerry was around here (Newmarket) last night dropping his eggs, but far enough from us. As long as he keeps that distance I’ll be quite satisfied. I was in Newmarket last night with one of the boys from our tent and we spent most of our time in a church canteen reading and talking and it was a pleasant evening, what with free tea and cake. We were issued with a suit of denim last week, the stuff that the Home Guards use, and we use it for our work. We look like Home Guards walking around our camp. There has been talk of us moving this week, but I don’t know if it is right or not.

It is getting cold in the night time now, and I woke last night with my feet like lumps of ice. I think I will have to get a hot-water bottle sez me. We have been on wireless training this morning and I was nearly sleeping on my feet. We are going out in tanks this afternoon, messing about.

I had a letter from Aunt Edie yesterday, and she said she hoped to see me on my next leave, remember the 48 hours.

Joan (sister) sent me some fruit and biscuits in her parcel and I’ve been doing alright the last two days. Well old girl this is about all the news this time so I will sign off. Give my regards to the sergeant (his father?).

Till the next time, love to all,

Ken

Here is the second letter written by Ken Howe of the 4th Queen’s Own Hussars. Undated, 1940.

We have been cleaning this place out today. We will be a long way from here (Newmarket) by Saturday. Well, Sis, I’m not feeling too good about leaving the old country. It’s been a lovely autumn day, with the sun out, and it brings back memories of South Cornelly, and walks in the moonlight with the boys. It will be a new experience like when I was called up, and I expect I shall get used to it.

Ken Howe’s third letter, 9.2.1941, Middle East Forces

Dear Sis, Handel and Clive,

Just a few lines to say how we are getting on here. We are doing alright so far, and we haven’t got much to grumble at. Elwyn and myself were in Cairo a few days ago on leave, and we had quite a good time there. It isn’t as modern as I thought it would be, and in the native quarters how it smells. We stayed at the barracks there and it cost us nothing, though the money doesn’t half go. I ordered two cushion covers from one of the shops, with our badge on it. They make them and post them duty free for the troops. I’m afraid it will take a long time before you have them, one for you and Joan.

While in Cairo we met a few of our boys who were in our squad in Catterick and we hadn’t seen them for months, and in one of the clubs for our troops I met a chap named Thomas. He owns the Swan in Nottage and he knows Handel and Roy Edwards well. Surprising how small the world is, eh. We went to see the pyramids and Sphinx and other sites.

We both played football yesterday afternoon for the squadron and had our snaps taken by one of the boys, so I’ll send you some on when they are developed. We have had a few sandstorms and boy is there a mess. There’s sand in your nose, eyes, everywhere, and they blow for hours. Well old girl I’m afraid this is all for now. Hoping you are all in the best of health as I am. Cheerio for the present.

Love to all,

Ken

The cushion covers, made of black velvet, were sent to Priscilla and Joan with the message ‘To Sis All My Love Ken’ embroidered on them.

In March 1941 the Queen’s Own Hussars were mobilised to Crete and then to mainland Greece in the forces gathered together at short notice to defend Greece. Sadly, Ken was killed in action on the 23.4.1941, the day the Greek forces surrendered to the Axis. He was twenty-two years old.

The Greek campaign ended with a complete German and Italian victory. In many respects it was a ‘pointless’ campaign for the British because they did not have the military resources to carry out big simultaneous operations in North Africa and the Balkans. Even if they had been able to block the Axis advance, a counter-thrust across the Balkans was impossible.

As ever, thank you for your interest and support.

Hannah xxx

Categories
Dear Reader

Dear Reader #37

Dear Reader,

My top ten this week, which features Sam, Ann and Grace. Many thanks to everyone who supports my books.

Sam now has readers in Latvia, Slovakia and Switzerland.

To date, I have readers in America, Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Columbia, Denmark, El Salvador, England, Fiji, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Ireland. Italy, Japan, Latvia, Malaysia, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Scotland, Singapore, Slovakia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey and Wales.

My aim is to reach more of these readers, in as many languages as possible. Many thanks to everyone who has contributed to this quest.

Following the career of SOE agent Pearl Witherington, a truly remarkable woman and an inspiration for my Eve’s War Heroines of SOE Series.

From Pearl’s SOE file, her training notes on codes and cyphers.

Pearl’s keywords ‘fou tez moi la paix’ sound very much like her personal selection and offer a direct plea to her instructors to accept her as an agent…’give me a break’.

Read more about Pearl at the SOE here https://hannah-howe.com/eves-war/pearl-witherington-soe-reports/

In association with Mom’s Favorite Reads and NeoLeaf Press I’m delighted to feature in the Strong Women anthology.

The anthology features many fabulous authors along with my Sam Smith short story Over the Edge.

The anthology is currently available for pre-order at the offer price of 0.99. More details via this universal link.

https://books2read.com/u/bwv7A0

A modern picture of Eve and Michel Beringar’s penthouse apartment at the Canebiere, Marseille, one of several homes owned or rented by the couple.

Chapter One of Operation Zigzag takes place in this apartment when a member of the Resistance asks Eve to assist them in springing Zigzag from a Gestapo prison before escorting him to the relative safety of Spain.

https://books2read.com/u/mKDDyv

With the first draft of Operation Zigzag complete, this afternoon I created the character profiles for book two, Operation Locksmith. In Locksmith, the SOE recruit Eve and she undergoes training. Her training is based on the SOE manual of 1943 and includes how to fire hand guns and machine guns, plant bombs, martial arts, climb mountains, run cross country, overcome obstacle courses and pick locks.

During her training, Eve meets Guy Samson and Mimi Duchamp, two agents who will play significant roles in her life, plus Major-General Cunningham and Vera Penrose, the ‘father’ and ‘mother’ of SOE. She also encounters a psychiatrist, who probes her mind, and Major McAllister, an SOE instructor whom she takes an instant dislike to.

There’s a fair amount of humour in this story, which will make it even more fun to write.

The sort of people I’m writing about right now.

Meet me at the station underneath the clock

Carry an umbrella, no need to talk

The man in the homburg, hiding in the fog
Will be watching

Get yourself a ticket, go through the gate

At seven forty-five precisely, don’t be late

If anybody follows don’t hesitate

Keep on walking

And take the night train to Munich

Rumbling down the track

After half an hour in the restaurant car

Look for the conductor

And there will be a stain on his tunic

A paper underneath his arm

Then you’d better pray that he doesn’t look away

Or you’ll never, never, never come back.

When you get the paper take a look inside

On page twenty-seven there’s a photo of a bride

Underneath the story of a man who died

In Morocco

Memorize the article word for word

The man in the homburg understands the code

Make sure the conversation isn’t overheard

They’re around you

And take the night train to Munich

Rumbling down the track

After half an hour in the restaurant car

Look for the conductor

And there will be a stain on his tunic

A paper underneath his arm

Then you’d better pray that he doesn’t look away

Or you’ll never, never, never come back.

I really wouldn’t ask if there was anybody else

But I now you’ve got the knack of taking care of yourself

And they don’t know your face so there won’t be anyone

Looking for you

When you get to Munich we’ll be waiting in the car

Don’t look around, just walk straight out

If you don’t show, I’m sorry for the pain

I caused you

Upon the night train to Munich

Rumbling down the track

After half an hour in the restaurant car

Look for the conductor

And there will be a stain on his tunic

A paper underneath his arm

Then you’d better pray that he doesn’t look away

Or you’ll never, never, never come back.

A selection of my audiobooks. More to follow 🙂

https://books.apple.com/gb/author/hannah-howe/id1017374616

Story ideas come from multiple sources, including songs. This song helped to shape Snow in August, Sam Smith Mystery Series book sixteen.

Goylake Publishing is named after a local river, which is flowing fast on this stormy day.

Women of Courage Heroines of SOE 

Described by fellow agent Peter Churchill as ‘a woman full of humour and common sense’, Marie-Thérèse Le Chêne was born on 20 April 1890 in Sedan, France. A small woman, she possessed grey hair and sharp determined features.

Aged 52, Marie-Thérèse was the oldest female SOE agent sent to France where she served from 31 October 1942 until 19 August 1943 as a courier working alongside her husband, Henri Le Chêne, and her brother-in-law, Pierre Le Chêne.

Early in World War Two, Marie-Thérèse fled France for London with her husband,Henri. In London, Marie-Thérèse worked as a cook and manager of a hotel. Henri, a British citizen despite his French birth, had previously managed a hotel in Nairobi, Kenya.

Interestingly, the Le Chêne family decided to join the SOE, and not Charles de Gaulle’s Resistance movement. There was great rivalry between the SOE and de Gaulle’s Resistance movement, and a lot of in-fighting, mainly based on rival political beliefs.

On the night of 3/4 November 1942, Marie-Thérèse landed at Port Miou, near Cassis. She arrived with fellow agents George Starr, Mary Herbert and Odette Sansom and worked alongside her husband as a courier and later as a distributor of political pamphlets and anti-German leaflets. Towards the end of her period in France, she also conducted a sabotage mission on a canal and railway line.

During a visit to Clermont-Ferrand, a town that strongly favoured the Resistance, Marie-Thérèse discovered that the workers at the Michelin Rubber Works were sabotaging production and delivering inferior tyres to the Germans. This not only disrupted the Germans, but also kept the workers in constant employment.

In January 1943, with the Gestapo closing in and Pierre captured, Henri fled France via the Pyrenees, the most popular land escape route at the time. Too tired to join him, Marie-Thérèse hid in friends’ houses until an SOE Hudson evacuated her from a field in Angers on 19 August 1943. Back in Britain, she rejoined her husband who added wryly that he had joined the SOE to get away from his wife, but that she had followed him into the service.

After the war, Marie-Thérèse, Henri and Pierre, who’d managed to escape, returned to France where they opened a hotel in Sainte-Menehould. 

As ever, thank you for your interest and support.

Hannah xxx

Categories
Dear Reader

Dear Reader #23

Dear Reader,

You know you’ve hit upon a good idea when the concept comes to you fully formed. That happened with Sam, Ann, Grace and my Spanish Civil War mini-series. Recently, while reading an item about the Second World War the idea for a mini-series came to me, fully formed. The central character, themes and events are clear in my mind. Now, I need to do more research and develop the characters. Then I can add my new idea to my writing and publishing schedule 🙂

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And speaking of research… Currently I’m reading The White Mouse, Nancy Wake’s autobiography. It’s a remarkable story, an example of the tremendous courage people have shown throughout the ages in their fight against fascism.

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Another excellent translation from Laura. This is the fourth book she has translated for me. I look forward to working with her in 2020 on new titles. Meanwhile, here’s an example of our partnership 🙂 https://hannah-howe.com/translations/francais/

RIPPER FRENCH
Many thanks to my readers in Australia for placing seven of my books in the top
💯 alongside greats such as Robert B Parker. And here’s a curiosity, the Italian version of Betrayal is #1 in Australia.

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A startling graphic highlighting the global climate crisis.

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And a moving graphic from Remembrance Day.

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I’ve been updating my Amazon author page and discovered that I have sixty-nine books listed. Many thanks to my readers, publisher friends, author friends, translators and narrators for making this possible.

“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.”

– Helen Keller

https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00OK7E24E

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As ever, thank you for your interest and support.

Hannah xxx

Categories
Sam Smith Mystery Series

The Muse #2

Welcome to The Muse, the latest news from bestselling author, Hannah Howe

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The opening chapter of The Devil and Ms Devlin finds Sam still working, against her will, from her office houseboat. However, when a Greek billionaire shows up wishing to hire Sam, does this mean a change of fortune?

The billionaire wants Sam to discover who is sending death threats to his lover, the superstar actress Dana Devlin, who after suffering emotional problems is making a comeback. However, the death threats are sent on postcards containing hearts, angels and flowers. What could this mean? Sam enters the glamorous world of movie making to uncover the truth, a truth clouded by murder, blackmail, fetishes and crooked business deals.

Meanwhile, Sam’s psychologist husband, Alan, encourages Dana to talk about her life, uncovering a closely guarded secret about her daughter and the root of her emotional problems.

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I’m researching a novel, which will be set in Bulgaria in 1944. My novel will be based on true events and the lives of two individuals, Ivan Danev, an eighteen year old resistance fighter imprisoned by the fascists, and Frank Thompson, a British officer who assisted the partisans. Along with biographies of Frank Thompson, Ivan Danev’s memoirs, Nest of Heroes, (pictured) will form the centrepiece of the story. The novel will also feature Ivan‘s sister, a young woman caught up in the conflict.

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Laura has started work on the French translation of Amour et Balles, Love and Bullets, book two in the Sam Smith Mystery Series. Our aim is to develop this series in French and explore the French book markets this year.

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A great start to the year for Tradimento, the Italian version of Betrayal, #2 on the Historical Fiction chart 🙂

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What a lovely review from a Canadian reader, for Sam’s Song 🙂

“Initially, I had a bit of trouble getting into the book, probably because the premise was not something I was familiar with, i.e. a rock star with a problem. Not a fan of rock music, or the lifestyle, it was the protagonist, Sam, that drew me in. Don’t you just love it when a book grows on you? Three-quarters of the way into the story I was routing for Sam and hoping she would make sound decisions. It takes a good writer to draw one into a story that is hard to put down, especially if it isn’t something you relate to.”

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Another wonderful review from Canada, for The Big Chill 🙂

“I love the Sam Smith series! She is feisty and funny and determined. Sam is shot in her office and as part of her recovery, she is not going to rest until she finds the person who did it. The list of potential suspects is unnervingly long. I couldn’t stop reading until I reached the last page, and now I’m a little sad it’s over. I highly recommend this series. They just keep getting better!”

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I’ve never been drawn to fame, fortune, glamour or celebrity. This book explains why. It tells the story of many beautiful, extremely rich and privileged people. The common thread is the sad and vacuous nature of their lives. When Gene Tierney suffered a mental breakdown and couldn’t remember her lines, the only person who tried to help her was a common maid. Gene Tierney had hired the maid to look after her daughter. Instead, she looked after the movie star. As Gene Tierney candidly admits, she had ‘everything’, a glamorous existence, while the maid had ‘nothing‘, except the happier life.