Death and the Dreadnought, by Robert Wilton. Published Sharpe Books, Feb 2019.
The year is 1910. Britain and Germany are racing for naval armaments superiority. The Dreadnoughts – possessors of large gun turrets providing uniform and overwhelming firepower – are the new British answer to the German threat. The Germans are desperate to catch up, and will cavil at nothing to turn the tables in this superpower conflict.Continue reading “Book Review: Death and the Dreadnought”→
In 225AD a tall fair-haired woman called Julia Aurelianus lives in a pretty townhouse in Aquae Sulis (modern Bath). Julia is an independent woman of means, a cultured high-status aristocrat and a healer who works at the clinic attached to the temple of Sulis Minerva. She is an educated, sophisticated citizen of the Roman Empire, living nearly two hundred years after the Roman invasion of Britain. She believes the Roman Empire will last for ever. But at the same time, she is a proud Durotrigian, with deep roots in a British identity, and a leading role as a tribal noble. Continue reading “Leaving Europe: we’ve done that before”→
If, like me, you’re already a fan of the wonderful Bristolian novelist Jodi Taylor, you’ll get my reference to one of her St Mary’s Chronicles series. St Mary’s is a research institution where historians research historical events in contemporary time. Yes, they time-travel. Although as Jodi cheerfully admits, she has no idea how the time travel pods actually work.
I first read Nevil Shute’s A Town Like Alice as a teenager. At the time I found it a gripping story, combining adventure, romance, war and an unparalleled portrayal of life in the Australian outback. I have since re-read this slim masterpiece many times, most recently this week. The Rider and I have been holidaying in Malaysia after a hot busy fortnight in Hà Nội, Vietnam [long story featuring two weddings and many family visits – see my other blog].
Readers of my travel blog (peteandjacmotorbikingineurope.wordpress.com) will immediately appreciate the serendipity of the picture above. Tracy Chevalier, my hero and talented author of Girl with a Pearl Earring, The Last Runaway, and most recently The Edge of the Orchard, was a speaker at the Historical Novel Society’s 2016 conference in Oxford last weekend, which I attended. (Apologies for the poor quality of the image, taken on my phone from way back in the hall.) Her wit, modesty and plain good sense are like gold dust. Coming only a few days after seeing the Vermeer original of Girl in The Hague on the final day of our European travels, her keynote address just seemed to really bookend that wonderful trip. Continue reading “Special moments in history”→
Doesn’t look like much, does it? Just a muddy field in a farm on the edge of the northern Somerset Levels. You’d never guess that under these grassy clods lie the remains of a large second century Roman courtyard villa.
In 1998 metal detectorists found a hoard of over 9000 silver denarii in this field. That is a serious amount of money, folks, something like £250,000 in modern money. The coins had been buried in the corner of a small room inside the villa. No-one knows by whom, or why. (The hoard is now on show in the Museum of Somerset, in Taunton). At around the same time as the hoard was hidden, c. AD 225, the villa was totally demolished, possibly after a major fire. Continue reading “Changes of scene”→
So here we are … Christmas has been and gone, and we’re looking 2016 firmly in the eye.
How about you – any life-changing body-morphing liver-mending resolves made? Fortunately for my liver, my appreciation of alcohol is correlated to quality rather than quantity these days. The Chief Medical Officer and I are so in alignment, with no effort on my part. Must be getting old. Continue reading “Beach Walks”→
Our local library at Cheddar in Somerset, largely run by volunteers due to funding cuts, whistled up a wonderful surprise last week when the highly-regarded historical novelist Maria McCann came to talk to library-goers and fans. Maria’s novels have been picked by Richard and Judy, and short-listed for the Orange Prize.
I think you could say it’s all gone a bit pear-shaped over the past two weeks. Not wanting to make excuses, but … since my last blog I have written a miserly thousand or so words for my NaNoWriMo draft novel.