A Victorian Lady in the Himalayas

Take a look at this wonderful account of a trip to remote Ladakh in 1896.

I edited and compiled the book based on the recently discovered diaries of a Victorian traveller. Maria Caroline Bolitho was a Cornishwoman who made the journey on horseback (in winter) over the Himalayan passes. They were tough in those days!http://www.amazon.co.uk


Here is an enjoyable anthology for Christmas. One of my stories included!


Who are the Janeites?

The term ‘Janeites’ was coined by Rudyard Kipling who was a great admirer of Austen’s work. He wrote a short story called The Janeites set during the First World War. A group of men in the trenches discuss Jane’s novels, read from them and even name their big guns after her characters. It was a way of diverting their thoughts from the horrors around them. You can read the story on the internet.

Today, legions of Austen fans, especially in North America, call themselves Janeites.

Usually they are female, but not always! They have helped to put her books up there with the Bible and Dracula and other unlikely titles, as the most popular in the world.

Would Jane be horrified by the spinoffs, the souvenirs, the films and TV adaptions – or would she be excessively diverted?

I was excessively diverted this week when I heard that Richard Flanagan’s novel-The Narrow Road to the Deep North had won the Man Booker Prize. I read it a few months ago and I have been recommending it to everyone. It’s a brilliant, moving book. Don’t miss it.

Looking back, two books I’ve read in recent years stand out in my mind. I read so many books and enjoy most of them but some linger in the mind and others are easily forgotten.

One was Carlos Ruiz Zafon’s first novel Shadow of the Wind which I loved. The other was Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks. Set in 1665 in a remote village in Derbyshire it is a story of the plague year, mesmerising and unforgettable. Brooks is a brilliant American historical novelist who can evoke any period in any culture. The greatest tribute any writer can pay another is to think “ I wish I had written that!” I certainly thought that about all the novels I’ve mentioned.

Causing Pain to Jane…….

Causing Pain to Jane

Another Austen spin-off taking liberties with Mr.Darcy, I hear you say. Does the world need another one?  All I can say in my defence is that my book was written as a kind of tribute to the Great Writer. This website is going live on December 16th which is Jane’s birthday. She would be 236 years old, not a fate I would wish on any woman. I hope she doesn’t feel even older due to a certain amount of spinning in her grave. At least my book does not contain aliens and Mr. Darcy does not meet with any mishaps.

I have used a well-worn literary trick – taking a fictitious character and giving her a new life. The idea came to me when I heard an agent say that there was no female equivalent of the picaresque novel – where the hero goes off on adventures in exotic places. Examples would be Bernard Cornwell’s Sharpe novels and the adventures of the lovable rogue, Flashman, from Tom Brown’s Schooldays.

The only female character I could think of who fitted the bill was Becky Sharp from Vanity Fair – a roguette, perhaps? There was a reason for this, of course. Pre-20th century females did not get around very much. Hampered by convention, corsets and a lack of civil rights, their adventures were mainly in the boudoir.

I thought that Lydia Bennet from Pride and Prejudice would be an ideal subject. Only sixteen when the novel ended, she had made an ill-advised marriage to Wickham that was bound to end badly. Here was a female black sheep ready to trot over the hills and far away to who knew what?