WORK IN PROGRESS: three novels
THE DUKES OF SHAN CHI. A novel spanning twelve decades from the 1880s to 2000s; a tale starting with Queen Victoria’s Royal family, through Empire and the Orient, in to the Twenty-first Century.
The fictional youngest son of Queen Victoria, Prince Robert, her ninth of ten children and fifth son, born in 1855, and leading a dissolute life, is sent in 1885 by his mother to be the ‘Regent Governor’ of the remote British trading colony of Shan Chi, an island off the South China coast.
The novel follows the lives and fortunes of Shan Chi, Robert’s descendants over five generations and many other residents and travellers through the colony as China builds its presence on the world stage.
There are times of great riches, of social extravagance, of Japanese occupation in WWII, of rebuilding as a major trading hub and of the reality of Peoples Republic of China as a dominant neighbour.
THE EXMOOR PUFFBALL JOURNAL. His partner has left him – or at least she’s upped-sticks and taken a job in New York – he is made redundant and in need of income. Franklyn Thomalin, seizes on the offer, from a friend of a friend met in a pub, to look after an inherited dilapidated Exmoor cottage.
Angus, the late aunt’s young spaniel, comes with the cottage. Returning from a day walking on the moor, Franklyn is surprised at Angus’s aggressive reaction to a growing puffball. It doubles in size overnight and over days it shows a luminous glow and the hint of a pulse.
Franklyn’s internet quest for mycological information leads to Kyoto in Japan and back to Exmoor, an international quest hinting at alien phenomena.
THE REGISTER OF JOE’S TREES. In wartime Bramlesham, Suffolk, teenage Alice Hallett’s affair with USAAC Master Sergeant Joseph Cornelius Carew, causes ructions at home. In 1943 Joe’s B-17 Flying Fortress is lost on a daylight bombing raid. Her mother tells her it is for the best. Alice, pregnant with Joe’s child, runs away to London where her daughter, Jo Jnr, is born. In1944, as Alice works in a factory a V1 destroys her baby-minder’s house.
Over her working life Alice nurtures and plants out into the wild young trees throughout the country as covert memorials to her Joe and their daughter. Then she meets a young American researching his grandfather’s wartime service and their transatlantic family stories of Bramlesham and South Dakota merge.