Saturday, 3 December 2016

Close to Home ...Cath Cole

As a book reviewer I have made contact with authors from all across the globe and feel immensely privileged to be able to share some amazing work. However, there is always something rather special when a book comes to my attention which has been written by an author in my part of the North of England. So with this in mind I have great pleasure in featuring some of those authors who are literally close to my home. Over the next few Saturdays, and hopefully beyond, I will be sharing the work of a very talented bunch of Northern authors and discovering just what being a Northerner means to them both in terms of inspiration and also in their writing.

Today I'm delighted to introduce Northern Writer

Home from Home by Cath Cole

The Origins of Home from Home

Depending on the individual I am talking to or the characteristics of the group I am with, readers ask a range of questions. These questions might be as varied as: Why did you write about a group of nurses in the 1960s?  Where is Farnton? Or perhaps the most interesting – Why did you write a historical novel? The latter question from a lovely lad, young enough to be my grandson, but I hasten to add, only by the narrowest of margins. We were fellow students studying for a Master’s degree in Creative Writing. He was astounded when I told him that the novel was very loosely based on my lived experience. He told me he would never have guessed I was SO very old. He emailed me recently to tell me he had bought a copy of "Home from Home" as a birthday present for his grandma.

Why did I write about a group of nurses training in the late 1960s? The three years of State Registered Nurse (SRN) training and the twenty months prior to training spent as a nursing cadet were a catalyst for me. I was utterly changed by the experiences of being both a cadet and a student nurse. I left school, at sixteen, a naïve girl from a working class background, university was never an option for me, the Infirmary was my best option for a qualification and a career. By the time I qualified as a SRN aged twenty-one I was a more sophisticated girl. The feeling of belonging and self-worth I gained through hard, sometimes gruelling work, friendships and discipline as well as the camaraderie needed to rise above the sometimes petty rules and necessary strict discipline underpinned the successful professional life I subsequently enjoyed. In addition, one of my nursing friends insisted I accompany her to a family party where she introduced me to her cousin who has been my husband for a very long time. The story of our meeting is played out in the novel.

Farnton is a corruption of Farnworth and Bolton. I was reluctant to use the actual names of the towns and names of restaurants, cafes and shops for fear of criticism that I had misrepresented reality. In my second novel I have thrown caution to the wind, actual names of villages, towns, pubs and shops abound. I was also concerned that if Bolton General Hospital and Bolton Royal Infirmary were used, readers, aware of the two hospitals, might be tempted to attribute the characters to real people. Which one of the girls are you? Is a frequently asked question. The answer is none of them, although some of the incidents reflect my experiences.

Another reason, and one I do not always admit to, is that writing about training to be a nurse in time of huge social and cultural change means I have left something behind for my grandchildren. A record of a different time, a time without sophisticated technology. A time when the social order was more clearly defined. A time of simple pleasures yet a time of revolution led by young people. A time when the old post war values were challenged and different voices began to be heard. And best of all a time of the greatest music ever.

Cath Cole

Corazon Books
Home from Home: The lives and loves of five nurses in the 1960s

A touching, bold and, at times, amusing account of the lives and loves of five trainee nurses in the 1960s.

Home from Home is the true-to-life, moving story of five student nurses in the 1960s. Twice a bestseller on Amazon's medical fiction chart!

The lives of Theresa, Maggie, Jenny, Sarah and Chris are about to change forever as they start their nurse training at The School of Nursing at Farnton General.

They soon realise that they have much to learn about life, both on and off the hospital wards. A strong bond is formed as the young women face the challenges presented by families, boyfriends and their nursing responsibilities.

Friendships are tested as the young nurses experience the joys and heartbreaks of growing up. But for each of them, for different reasons, the hospital will become a home from home.

Author Website click here

My thanks to Cath for sharing her thoughts about the writing of Home from Home and what it means to her.

 I trained as a nurse in the 1970s so a lot of what Cath says resonates with me.

Huge thanks also to Ian at Corazon Books for his enthusiasm for my Close to Home feature

I hope you have enjoyed this week's Featured Author

Coming next week : J Carmen Smith 


Friday, 2 December 2016

Blog Tour ~ 1342 QI Facts To Leave You Flabbergasted

As  a huge fan of the QI programme

I am delighted to be hosting a stop on the amazing 1342 QI Facts Blog Tour

I'm really excited to share with you this Factifying Guest Post by John Mitchinson, QI’s head researcher and co-author, 1342 QI Facts to Leave you Flabbergasted


In the early days of QI, when John Lloyd and I were asked, ‘where do you get your facts?, we used to refer people to a small shop in Cullercoats, a village on the Northumbrian coast. We were kidding, of course (at least, that’s what we tell people…)

A more direct answer is that we get our facts by asking questions. Given the co-author of this blog is feline, what kind of questions would we ask a cat? We have a shelf of books on cats in QI HQ, exploring physiology, behaviour, history and symbolic function. The internet, even the bits not filled with cute GIFS of kittens, is brimming with research and debate about their virtues and vices. Despite this, we are no closer to solving the ineffable mystery of cats than we were when we started. We know they sleep for 85% or their lives. We know only a quarter of cat ‘owners’ say they deliberately went out to acquire a cat: in 75 per cent of cases, it was the cat that acquired them. And studies have shown that many more people claim to own a cat than there are cats. The closer we look; the deeper the mystery. And are cats any help? Jaffa?

But the long process of sifting books, magazines, blogs and academic research does pay off occasionally. Here’s one cat-related question we think we’ve nailed. That unpleasant slimy thing they leave on the stairs after they’ve killed and consumed a mouse? It’s the mouse’s caecum, the enlarged section of the large intestine which is full of fermenting seeds. No one know why cat’s leave it – but the best guess is that it's a way of avoiding toxins the mouse has ingested. Knowing cats, it might just be because they don't like the taste .

A small but interesting question answered. A tiny drop of truth in an ocean of speculation. We once worked out that a minute of QI the TV show, usually has half a day of research behind it. That may seem wasteful, but the gathering of facts is its own reward. Galileo understood this: ‘Facts which at first seem improbable will, even on scant explanation, drop the cloak which has hidden them and stand forth in naked and simple beauty.’

Faber and Faber

1342 QI Facts To Leave You Flabbergasted is researched and complied by:

 John Lloyd
John Mitchinson
James Harking
Anne Miller

Follow the QI Elves on Twitter @qikipedia

Here are my thoughts..

There's nothing I like better than a good list and to have an amazing 1342 facts listed in such a really easy to read format is something that really appeals to my sense of order.

Of course, this is one of those books that you can pick up and open at whim and yet, I guarantee that within a few minutes, you will be avidly scanning the pages for another interesting fact that you never knew you needed to know. I love how they all blend seamlessly and very cleverly together.

Some of the facts, it must be said  made me laugh out loud especially the word that Robert Browning inadvertently used in his poem 'Pippa Passes'...

Some of the words I intend to make good use of, particularly, Plother which it seems to do nonstop here in the North West and also Subrident which is something Jaffa makes me do every day...

But, by a cat's whisker, the favourite fact found by the orange one is this little gem....' In 2015, America’s ‘National Hero Dog Award’ was a cat’

Amazon UK

Huge thanks to John for his Factifying guest post and also to Ruth and Diana at Ruth Killick Publicity for  their invitation to be part of the #qifacts Blog Tour and for all their support and help.


Thursday, 1 December 2016

Review ~ Cousins by Salley Vickers

Viking Penguin

The book blurb..

Brilliant and mercurial Will Tye suffers a life changing accident. The terrible event ripples through three generations of the complex and eccentric Tye family, bringing to light old tragedies and dangerous secrets. Each member of the family holds some clue to the chain of events which may have led to the accident and each holds themselves to blame. Most closely affected is Will's cousin Cecelia, whose affinity with Will leaves her most vulnerable to his suffering and whose own life is for ever changed by how she will respond to it.

Told through the eyes of three women close to Will, his sister, his grandmother and his aunt, Cousins is a novel weaving darkness and light which takes us from the outbreak of World War Two to the present day, exploring the recurrence of tragedy, the nature of transgression, and the limits of morality and love.

My thoughts...

When student, Will Tye suffers a devastating accident, not only does it shock his family but it also reopens old secrets which have been allowed to linger for far too long in the shadows.

In Cousins, the author, Salley Vickers lays bare the very fabric of family life, in a story which evolves through the narration of Will's grandmother, his sister and his aunt, namely, the three women who are closest to him and who each have a part to play in the eventual outcome of the story. The three narrators are very different people and this comes across in their individual stories and yet, their stories coalesce and intertwine to form a cohesive portrayal of a family which has been shattered into a million pieces.

What I enjoyed about Cousins was the way the story was allowed to evolve at entirely its own pace. It seems, on the surface, to be a rather slow and thoughtful story, and yet, it is no less powerful because of that, rather it demonstrates just how good the author is at getting right into the heart of what matters. The secrets at the centre of the story are perceptively written and the author writes beautifully about thoughts and feelings, and also, of the insecurities which can, so often, blight a generation. 

Ultimately, Cousins is a story about the delicate intricacies of familial relationships. It’s about the devastating consequences of love and sacrifice and of the dangerous risks that families will take in order to protect each other from the pain of heartbreak. 

Best Read With ...a glass of bitter shandy , heavy on the lemonade...

Salley Vickers was born in Liverpool, the home of her mother, and grew up as the child of parents in the British Communist Party. She won a state scholarship to St Paul’s Girl’s School and went on to read English at Newnham College Cambridge.Her first novel, ‘Miss Garnet’s Angel’, became an international word-of-mouth bestseller. She now writes full time and lectures widely on many subjects, particularly the connections between, art, literature, psychology and religion.

Salley Vickers  

Twitter @SalleyVickers

My thanks to Josie at Penguin Viking for the opportunity to read and review this novel

**While it's Christmas -  I'm giving away my read "only once" Hardback copy**

a Rafflecopter giveaway

***Good Luck ***

Wednesday, 30 November 2016

The author on my spotlight is ...Marie Macpherson

I am delighted to welcome to the blog on St Andrew's Day

Scottish Author 

Marie Macpherson

Marie is celebrating the publication of the second book in her trilogy of historical novels about the Scottish reformer , John Knox

The Second Blast of the Trumpet

Hi Marie, welcome back to Jaffareadstoo and thank you for answering my questions about your novel.

The Second Blast of the Trumpet

The fiery Scottish Reformer, John Knox is the main protagonist of the Knox trilogy; tell us a little about him.

Knox was tantalisingly tight-lipped about his early life but it’s now accepted he was born in Haddington around 1513 and studied at St Andrews University before being ordained as a Roman Catholic priest. He abandoned the church after falling under the spell of the charismatic Protestant preacher, George Wishart, who was burnt at the stake in 1546. Galvanised by his mentor’s martyrdom, Knox answered the call to become preacher at St Andrews Castle where he was arrested as a heretic and sentenced to toil as a galley slave. Freed after 19 gruelling months in the French galleys, he was welcomed by the English church and appointed chaplain to Edward VI. On the young king’s untimely death, the Catholic Mary Tudor took the throne, forcing Knox to flee to the continent to consult Calvin in Geneva. Months before her death, Knox wrote his notorious tract The First Blast of the Trumpet against the Monstrous Regiment of Women denouncing Bloody Mary’s reign of persecution. Though Protestant, Elizabeth I was not amused and refused to have him back in England. In 1559 he returned to Scotland to head the Protestant rebellion but no sooner had Protestantism been established as the official religion in Scotland than the widowed Mary Stewart returned to claim her Scottish crown. The Protestant firebrand preacher clashed with the devout Catholic queen not only over religion but her choice of unsuitable husbands. The persecuted preacher who feared he would end his life atop a burning pyre, died in his bed in 1572. 

Illustration: Portrait of John Knox from Theodore Beza’s Icones

John Knox famously ranted against the Monstrous Regiment of Women why was he so vehemently opposed to women as monarchs?

Knox used ‘monstrous’ and ‘regiment’ in the archaic sense to mean ‘unnatural’ and ‘rule’, and quoted Scripture to support his argument that female dominion over men was against divine and natural law. While echoing the era’s widespread assumption that women were inferior to men, he trumpeted it much more vehemently than most to the point of advocating regicide to bring down the ‘abominable empire of wicked women’ – Mary Tudor in England and Mary of Guise, regent in Scotland. Even John Calvin was appalled and washed his hands off any association with the fiery Scot’s extremism.

Illustration: Title page of The First Blast of the Trumpet, 1766 edition

In this novel, John Knox travels across Europe, in researching the book, did you visit any of the places he visited?

Despite his health being ravaged in the galleys, Knox must have had incredible stamina to endure arduous, dangerous journeys of over 600 miles as he criss-crossed the continent from Dieppe to Geneva, as well as numerous voyages back and forth to Scotland. Although I’ve been to Frankfurt, the opportunity to visit Geneva hasn’t arisen – yet. Fortunately, nowadays writers can travel ‘virtually’ in time and space using 16th century maps, diaries and documents to get a flavour of what cities were like then.

Illustration: Map of Geneva 

Seeking to make John Knox into a more sympathetic figure must have taken a great deal of time and commitment – what have you learned about him that has taken you by surprise?

Embarking on The Second Blast filled me with trepidation. How could I write about a man who, though admired by some, was loathed by many? How could I, a woman, write sympathetically about the notorious misogynist? 

However, to my great surprise, I discovered that not only did Knox love women but they loved him back. He married twice – to much younger brides – fathered five children, caused tongues to wag about his intense relationship with his mother-in-law, and corresponded with his flock of female followers. He must have had some charisma.

His letters reveal his tender ‘feminine side’ and also betray fears and doubts about his mission as ‘God’s messenger’. After a courtship strewn with obstacles, his marriage to Marjory – the perfect wife in Calvin’s view – seems to have been happy. More interesting was his relationship with the poet and translator, Anna Locke, the only woman he truly loved – according to Robert Louis Stevenson. 

John Knox ladies’ man? Knox the star-crossed lover? This portrait of patient pastor and affectionate husband, devoted father and faithful friend is in striking contrast to the strident bigot thundering fire and brimstone from the pulpit. All this spurred me on to uncover more about the man behind the myth.

I enjoyed reading the quotations which head each chapter – where did you find them and do you have a favourite?

The literature of the 16th century, including the Scottish makars and the English poets of the Silver Age, has always fascinated me. Besides, their work presents authentic source material for the historical fiction author as many of them were courtiers who paint a vivid picture of the courtly love and treachery at the brilliant but violent Stewart and Tudor courts. Seeking appropriate quotations gave me the opportunity to read them again. So, it’s difficult to say which is my favourite – I like them all!

I’ll choose the one in Part III: Chapter 1 that comes from Robert Henryson’s Abbey Walk, because it touches on one of the major themes in the novel – whether predestination or chance determines our lives. 

This changing and great variance

Of eardly states up and down

Is nocht but casualtie and chance

As some men say is without reason

The Second Blast of the Trumpet is the second novel in the Knox Trilogy – did you feel more of an obligation to make this book even better than the first?

I must admit that I did feel the sword of Damocles hanging over me while writing the Second Blast! The ‘what if?’ question plagued me! What if it doesn’t live up to expectations? What if readers who loved my first novel don’t like this one? What if… what if... 

Readers expect second novels to be better than the first. After all, you must have learned something in the process of writing, editing and publicising your debut. Some writers have such traumatic second book nerves that they take years to produce it – others not at all!

And then, just as the second novel is published I’m starting to worry about writing the third. Be careful what you wish for!.

What can we expect to discover in The Third Blast of the Trumpet?

The Last Blast as I think I’ll call it, covers Knox’s arrival in Scotland in 1559 to his death in 1572. Those thirteen years are packed full of drama and conflict. On one side, Knox has to contend with the Scots nobles who are using religion as a pretext for seizing wealth and power; on the other he faces Mary Queen of Scots whose Catholicism poses a threat the the incipient Protestant state. I’m looking forward to depicting the confrontations between these two charismatic characters. 

I’d also like to explore Knox’s role in the politics of the time, including the murders of Rizzio and Darnley, and his relationship with the key players such as Secretary Lethington and his kinsman James Hepburn, Lord Bothwell. His second marriage to Margaret Stewart, a distant kinswoman of Queen Mary which infuriated her, offers exciting possibilities. And, of course, I must resolve his troubled relationship with his godmother, Prioress Elisabeth Hepburn.

Illustration: John Knox admonishing Mary, Queen of Scots

Marie Macpherson developed a love for literature and languages from an early age. She studied French and German at school, followed by Spanish and Italian at university. After gaining an honors degree in Russian and English, she spent a year in Moscow and Leningrad (St. Petersburg).

Like on Facebook

Follow on Twitter @MGMacpherson

Find The First Blast of the Trumpet on Amazon UK

Find The Second Blast of the Trumpet on Amazon UK

Huge thanks to Marie for sharing this fascinating insight into Scottish history. 

Jaffa and I wish you continued success with The Second Blast of the Trumpet and thank you 

for spending time with us today and for sharing your books with us.


Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Review ~ Learning to Fly by Jane Lambert

Some things happen for a reason...

CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform

A bit of book blurb..

Forty-year-old air stewardess Emily Forsyth has everything a woman could wish for: a glamorous, jet-set lifestyle, a designer wardrobe and a dishy pilot of a husband-in-waiting to match. But when he leaves her to ‘find himself’ (forgetting to mention the bit about ‘…a younger girlfriend’), Emily’s perfect world comes crashing down. Catapulted into a mid-life crisis, she is forced to take stock and make some major changes. She ditches her job and enrols on a drama course in pursuit of her childhood dream, positive that, in no time at all, she’ll be sexily sporting a stethoscope on 'Holby City', and her ex will rue the day he dumped her. Wrong! Her chosen path proves to be an obstacle course littered with rejection and financial insecurity. If she is to survive, she must learn to be happy with less, and develop a selective memory to cope with more than her fair share of humiliating auditions. She tells herself her big break is just around the corner. But is it too late to be chasing dreams?

My thoughts..

Some things happen for a reason and that's the theme which runs through this delightful story of one woman's survival against all the odds. Emily Forsyth gives up her successful career and a philandering husband-to-be in what must be one of the bravest moves ever. Now in her early forties Emily knows that if she wants to make it as an actress it's literally got to be now, or never.

What then follows is the charming, and, it must be said, often angst ridden, story of how Emily tries her darnedest to get her acting career to take off but along the way she encounters rejection, insecurity and constant self-doubt. It's all very well thinking that success is just a stage role away, but for Emily, the reality is far more complicated.

What I enjoyed about this story was the way the author obviously shared her own experiences of the acting world and speaks with authority on what it's like to be up against another actor for an acting job which may or may not hurtle you into the big time. The fickleness of the acting world is brought to life in a way that only someone who has experienced it can relate with any degree of authenticity. I found myself laughing out loud in places, especially the Pattie Pineapple debacle, which stretches even Emily's enthusiasm to its limit.

Overall, Learning to Fly kept my attention from beginning to end. It's the story of ambition, and determination, of good times and bad, of learning to take chances when the odds are stacked against you, and most importantly, it’s the story of good friendship and having people around you who will always stand your corner.

 Written with gentle humour and great insight into the acting world, the author brings the story alive with great story telling technique. I felt like I connected with Emily and wanted everything to work out for her, whether it does, or not, is for you to find out for yourselves.

This is one debut novel which will, definitely, sit on my bookshelves just waiting for the sequel to arrive, hopefully sooner rather than later.

Best read with …A large caramel cream Frappuccino and a generous portion of Nonna Maria’s Arancini di Riso..

About the Author

Jane taught English in Vienna then travelled the world as cabin crew, before making the life-changing decision to become an actor in her mid-thirties. She has appeared in "Calendar Girls", "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time" and "Deathtrap" in London's West End. "Learning to Fly" is her debut novel.

Find  Jane on Facebook

Follow her on Twitter @janelambert22
Read a guest post by Jane by clicking here

Huge thanks to Jane for sharing her novel with us. Jaffa and I wish you continued success with both your writing ...and acting career.

Come back and see us again soon.


Monday, 28 November 2016

The author in my spotlight is ....Harriet Steel

I am delighted to welcome back to the blog

Harriet Steel

Hi Harriet, thanks you for coming back to see us again. It's always a pleasure to welcome you to Jaffareadstoo.

Tell us a little about yourself and what got you started as an author?

Reading has been a passion for most of my life and the crammed bookshelves in the little study where I write are a testament to that. The invention of the e-book came just in time, even though I still find there’s something special about reading a ‘real’ book.

Perhaps, with my love of reading, it was inevitable that I would eventually decide to try my hand at writing too. I began, as many people do, with short stories. They’re fun to write as, being short, one can easily try out a variety of genres and if an idea doesn’t work, you haven’t lost too much time. I sent my better efforts up to magazines and was encouraged when they were accepted. I always remember the buzz of getting my first cheque! I also entered competitions. One of those was a national competition organised by the BBC who used it as the springboard for a six-part series called End of Story. The idea was that six well-known authors would write the first half of a short story, then contestants would have a thousand words to add the ending.

I chose a story by Joanne Harris and, to my delight, ended up in the final three of my section. This meant that I took part in one of the episodes, which was a fascinating experience. Our presenter (Claudia Winkleman in her pre-Strictly incarnation) and the charming production team whisked the three of us off to the Dartington Literary Festival where we read our stories and took part in a Q & A session with the audience. After that, it was off to the Dales to meet Joanne at her lovely Victorian house where she talked to us about our writing and delivered the final verdict. I came second, but the experience was in no way dimmed by that.

It was during a session in the Japanese Garden, something that Joanne and her husband didn’t even realise was there when they took over the house and its overgrown grounds, that Joanne gave us the best piece of advice I’ve ever heard for aspiring authors: ‘Drop the word “aspiring” and just write.’

That’s what I’ve been doing ever since, and I’ve published five novels so far. My first was Becoming Lola, a biographical novel about the notorious Victorian adventuress, Lola Montez, who was in her day second only to Queen Victoria in fame. An Elizabethan adventure and two historical novels set in nineteenth century Paris followed, and now my first venture into the crime genre, Trouble in Nuala

What can you tell us about Trouble in Nuala without revealing too much?

CreatSpace Independent Publishing Platform

Trouble in Nuala is the first in a planned series entitled The Inspector de Silva Mysteries. The setting is Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) in the 1930s, a time when the island was still a British colony. My main character, Inspector Shanti de Silva, has had a successful career in the police force of the bustling capital city, Colombo, but in middle age, he’d like something more restful. For the first time in his life, he also has a happy and settled personal life with his new English wife, Jane; the offer of promotion to a post in the hill town of Nuala seems the perfect solution. Unfortunately for de Silva, Nuala isn’t quite as sleepy as he’d hoped and an arrogant tea planter with a lonely wife, a crusading lawyer and a suspicious death present him with a riddle he will need all his experience to solve. 

How did your recent visit to Sri Lanka shape your novel?

It was crucial. Without the visit, it would never have occurred to me to choose the island as my setting. To me, Sri Lanka encapsulates the best of all worlds. It has the beauty and exotic culture of India but none of the terrible poverty and overcrowding one sees in the island’s larger neighbour. The charm and friendliness of the people are very beguiling too. It was wonderful to see how, in only a few years, they have managed to put the tragedy of civil war behind them and take their country forward. I was so impressed by the reverence for education which is seen as something to prize. When we saw children walking to and from school, or in the playgrounds, I was struck by how immaculate their uniforms were (all white in the case of the girls) even though there’s a lot of dust around. People are patriotic. On several occasions, our guide explained we must wait quietly while the national anthem was played over loudspeakers. This pride in the country and love of learning were some of the characteristics I wanted to give to Shanti de Silva. 

The experience was also a rich one in terms of scenery and wildlife. Sri Lanka is a feast for the senses with its abundance of exotic birds, animals and flowers. I came home filled with enthusiasm for getting the flavour of it all down on paper. 

Why did you chose to set Trouble in Nuala in the 1930s and not in the present day?

The 1930s appealed to me because it was a time when Ceylon was still a British colony. That gave me the chance to explore conflicts and contrasts between the British colonials and the people of Ceylon. I felt these would add another layer to the story that would help it to stand out from the general run of murder mysteries 

In your research for Trouble in Nuala, which of the places you visited made a lasting impression and why?

It has to be the hill country where the tea plantations are situated. Of all the areas we visited, it was the most beautiful, very green and lush with marvellously clear air and balmy temperatures. (At least to those of us used to an English winter. In February, when we were there, many of the locals had their coats on!) The main town, Nuwara Eliya, is the model for Nuala. Rather like Simla in India, it has a very English feel to it. 

And finally, how would you describe Trouble in Nuala in 5 words?

Colourful, exotic, humorous, entertaining and relaxing.

Thank you so much Jaffa and Jo for a lovely interview. I’ve really enjoyed being with you. 

Best wishes, Harriet

If readers would like to know more about my books, they can find information on my Amazon page 

Trouble in Nuala is available on Kindle or in paperback 

Visit Harriet on Facebook 

Harriet blogs about history, art and writing in general at

My thanks to Harriet for being a lovely guest today and for sharing her thoughts about her novel, Trouble in Nuala.


Sunday, 27 November 2016

Sunday WW1 Remembered...

Inspirational Women of the First World War

Edith Cavell


Edith Cavell was a British nurse working in occupied Belgium during the First World War. She was responsible for helping war casualties regardless of their nationality and helped hundreds more allied soldiers escape the Germans. She was arrested, tried and executed by the Germans in 1915.

Edith Cavell was born in Swardeston, Norfolk, the daughter of a rector, she had a brother and two sisters. Edith first worked as a governess in Belgium before training as a nurse in London. After working in London hospitals, Edith accepted a post as Matron of a training hospital in Brussels where she was largely responsible for recruiting and training nurses. She is considered to be the founder of modern nursing in Belgium.

At the outbreak of war in 1914, Edith was visiting her mother in Norfolk but returned to immediately to Brussels where her nursing school became a Red Cross Hospital, treating civilians and casualties from both sides of the war.

Following the Battle of Mons in August, 1914, Edith arranged for soldiers to be smuggled out of occupied Belgium and into neighbouring Netherlands, which remained neutral. She was arrested in August 1915 and imprisoned in St Gilles Prison in Brussels,

Edith was tried at court martial on 7 October 1915, along with 34 other people involved in or connected to the network. She was found guilty and sentenced to death. Edith Cavell was shot by a firing squad at the Tir National the Brussels firing range, on 12 October 1915.

Although her execution was legal under international law, it caused outrage in Britain and in many neutral countries, such as the United States. She became a symbol of the Allied cause, and her memory was invoked in posters and messages in Britain and around the world.

After the war, Edith's body was exhumed and escorted to Britain. A memorial service was held at Westminster Abbey, and she was reburied in Norwich Cathedral.