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Monday, 4 April 2016

Mary Wollstonecraft, a thinker in advance of her time



   A character who plays an important role in my book A Shackled Inheritance was a real person. For the long voyage across the Atlantic, my heroine Abigail takes a copy of A Vindication of the Rights of Woman by Mary Wollstonecraft. Reading and re-reading this slim volume, a meek, conventional young woman acquires more backbone as she absorbs its radical ideas.

   Mary Wollstonecraft published A Vindication of the Rights of Woman in 1791, when she was only 31. It was a follow-up to her republican tract A Vindication of the Rights of Men, published in 1790. Despite the groundswell of radical ideas in the late 18th century, the so-called Age of Reason, the simple idea that the rights of man could be extended to the female sex provoked alarm and ridicule in the literary and political establishment of the day. Walpole referred to the author as a"hyena in petticoats". Wollstonecraft argued that girls should be properly educated, either to turn them into wives and mothers who would be intellectually equal to their menfolk, or to give single and widowed women the means of earning an honest living:
   "Contending for the rights of woman, my main argument is based on this simple principle, that if she be not prepared by education to become the companion of man, she will stop the progress of knowledge, for truth must be common to all."

   Yet her sensible suggestion that girls and boys be educated together was dismissed as the ravings of a deranged woman.

   By coincidence, the British Library in London currently displays an annotated copy of the book. See:
http://www.bl.uk/collection-items/mary-wollstonecraft-a-vindication-of-the-rights-of-woman

Friday, 26 February 2016

Free persons of colour in the West Indies

A Shackled Inheritance is launched today with a Saturday Spotlight feature on http://www.romantichistoricalreviews.com.

When my heroine discovers that she has two unknown sisters, she crosses the ocean to meet them. On arrival, she is plunged into the half-world of free persons of colour. This segment of colonial society grew in numbers over the centuries as white men freed their mixed-race children. A census of Jamaica taken in 1788 recorded a total population of 254,184, including 18,347 whites, 9,405 free persons of colour and 226,432 slaves. However, freedom came with restrictions. Free persons of colour had property rights, and were often slave owners themselves, but had few political or civil rights. In 1802, the governor of Barbados, explaining his mistrust of them, wrote that "unappropriated people would be a more proper denomination for though not the property of other individuals they do not enjoy the shadow of any civil right."

As I try to show in the book, free persons of colour denied their African heritage and identified with white society. Not surprising in a society which treated slaves as subhuman, worked them to death, and inflicted horrific punishments on those who ran away or challenged authority.



A Shackled Inheritance can be pre-ordered from Amazon:
http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B01BBCBX38

  

Monday, 13 July 2015

Coming soon, A Shackled Inheritance



Spinster Abigail Carrick faces a frugal existence in dour Scotland—until her father's will reveals she has two unknown half-sisters. Free women of color, they will share her inheritance of a sugar plantation in the Caribbean. Against all advice, Abigail crosses the ocean to meet them.  Fellow passenger Euan Sinclair offers her welcome encouragement. As their friendship deepens, the young lawyer is torn between attraction to Abigail and his loathing of slavery. His principles also clash with his duty, for his legal mission is delicate and he dare not fail.  Fate throws the slave owner and the abolitionist together, on an island gripped by rumors of a slave revolt. When Euan meets Abigail's family, will her alluring sister Desiree steal him from her ?




Sunday, 25 January 2015

ENCHANTMENT IN MOROCCO now at 99c or 99p


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Click here to purchase from Amazon.

A romance set in a magical land at the crossroads of Europe and Africa.

"The story reads like an old-fashioned Harlequin romance. It is a refreshing change once in a while to read a story that is not full of sex scenes and concentrates on the story. The author takes the reader on a very interesting trip to Morocco, and her descriptions of places and people are very good. The plot is very involving and combines romance with a bit of suspense, leading to a very satisfying conclusion. I very much enjoyed this story and hope to read more from this author."
Coffee Time Romance, rating 4 cups

"The slow pace of Moroccan life, along with its vibrancy and colours, echoes through this charming story. Emily and Rafi are worlds apart in both culture and status. The story moves at a fair pace towards a climax I didn't see coming. The characters are well-balanced and engaging, complete with flaws they don't bother to hid. Worth reading."

HEA reviews, rating 3 teacups

Sunday, 30 November 2014

Light in the Dark




The trailer for Bridge House Publishing's latest anthology, Light in the Dark, can now be seen on YouTube, at
http://youtu.be/AkoAqyKjYH8

The central character of my story, I'm Still Me, Puss, is barely there, as reflected in this stunning image created by Paul Field.

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Writing spoof fiction



The Bookmuse Readers' Journal contains an entertaining selection of spoof stories written in various genres. The ink flowed when I tried my hand at spoof fiction, and I bombarded the editors with my offerings. In the end they chose my cosy crime story, featuring a pet cat who claws items from the local newspaper to provide its owner with clues for solving the mystery.

I would recommend writing spoof fiction to anyone who has writer's block. Spoofs give a writer licence to experiment, treading a fine line between parody and homage. From dukes and highwaymen in a Regency romance, to lugubrious ruminations in the style of Anita Brookner, I forgot my inner censor and enjoyed myself.  .   

Monday, 3 November 2014

Thankful Author




Today, 3 November, fellow author Angela Hayes features me in her round-up of thankful authors. I have much to be thankful for and wrote a tribute to my Dad. Dad left school at 16 and consequently had an exaggerated respect for education, combined with wariness when dealing with educated people. His early encouragement of my yen to write took the form of saying, "You write some peculiar things. Why don't you send something to Radio 3?" BBC Radio 3, in those days, was the natural home of eggheads. I wish I had been brave enough to follow his advice, but in those days I too thought eggheads were superior beings, born different to us ordinary folk.

I never made it onto Radio 3, but have had short pieces on BBC local radio. I wish Dad had been alive to hear them.