REQUIEM FOR PRIVATE HUGHES: published in 2015: see Chip’s Chatter – now available as an e-book and paperback.
NOVELS IN PROGRESS
BIRCHLAND HALL. Two cousins inherit a West Yorkshire dilapidated Victorian mansion built by their great-great grandfather, an industrialist and Mayor of Dewsfield. The novel brings the Holtbury cousins, strangers to Yorkshire and to each other, together in their search for family connection as the mansion, Birchland Hall, finds a new place within the Dewsfield community.
THE DUKES OF SHAN CHI. Commences as a historical fiction novel spanning twelve decades from the 1880s to 2000s; a tale starting with the Victoria’s Royal family, through Empire and the Orient, progressing from Victorian times 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.
PUFFBALL. 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.
Franklyn’s brief, over the winter of 2012, is to look after the antiquated cottage while the inheriting brother and sister seek National Park planning permission to bring their late aunt’s home into the C21st as a luxury holiday let.
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. Next morning, remembering childhood breakfasts of fried puffball slices, Franklyn goes out to harvest the growth. It has doubled in size overnight. By evening it is larger still, showing a luminous glow in the half light 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. In 1944, as Alice works in a Battersea factory, a V1 falls, killing many and destroying the terrace housing her baby’s minder. The unidentified bodies of children and adults are buried in a mass grave.
Alice buries her grief in army service. After her military service and a career in the Civil Service Alice retires to Bramlesham. Over many years her private mission has been to collect and plant young trees in many places all over the country, to remember her Joe, and their lost daughter, Jo Jnr. She logs every planting, with its location, in a leather bound register.
In 1999, on the day that would have been Joe’s eighty-fourth birthday, Alice visits ‘Joe’s beech tree’, the place and the anniversary of the consummation of their affair.
On her way home she parks outside the Bramlesham village shop. A young man, the image of her Joe, comes out from the shop and drives away. That night Alice checks the church Visitors’ Book. The last entry reads: JOSEPH CORNELIUS CAREW III, South Dakota, USA.