APHRODITE’S ISLAND has just been published by Robert Hale Ltd. Please go to the BOOKS page for details.
What amazing serendipity to have published this book at this particular time! Swinfen’s Flood is set on the English Fens in the early 17th century, just after the Civil War; but the parallels with the current situation on the Somerset Levels are very striking.
That said, this book stands on its own merits as a really absorbing read. Swinfen conjures up the conditions of life at that period in that place very vividly and makes us understand how that unique way of life is threatened by the draining of the fens and the enclosure of common land. This is done through the story of one family of yeoman farmers living in a fenland village and the various members of the family are fully realised characters. In particular, her heroine Mercy grabs our sympathy. She is a strong girl, feisty enough to appeal to a modern reader without stepping beyond the bounds of the conventions of the period.
The narrative arc of the book is powerful enough to keep us turning the pages and the description of Mercy’s trial for witchcraft is blood-chilling. The story comes to a climax with the flood of the title, with a gripping account of Mercy’s attempts to save the lives of both friends and those who might be accounted as enemies, and an ultimate tragedy. If the romantic finale is a little predictable it still leaves the reader satisfied and offers hope for the future.
February has been a quiet month on the whole. Here on the Wirral we have not had the terrible weather that other parts of the country have experienced – although West Kirby and Hoylake got a battering from the sea before Christmas. I’ve just got back from a week’s holiday on the island of Madeira, with friends from the Bridge Club. It is a beautiful place and the weather was lovely. I wish we had stayed longer. We only managed to fit in one levada walk, though we planned to do several more.
Invitations to speak are still coming in. I shall be speaking to the Mid Wirral WI on May 28th and at the Penistone Festival on either Saturday, July 19th or Sunday July 20th.
Rather amusingly, I applied to the Lancashire Federation of WI’s to be on their list of speakers and they require me to do an audition! I’ve pointed out that I’ve spoken to a number of Cheshire WI’s and suggested that they might ask them how the talk went down – but no, they don’t trust anyone else’s judgement. I suppose I’ll have to go through with it.
Meanwhile, I am still working on my Matilda story. (For those who have just joined the newsletter list and don’t know what I am talking about, you can read my last newsletter on my website; www.hilarygreen.co.uk) I’m finding it fascinating to reconstruct the real person behind the various accounts left by contemporary writers; but it requires a lot of research.
APHRODITE’S ISLAND should be out any day now, so watch out for it in your local library.
Thanks to all of you who have written in with appreciation of my books.