There is Still Crime!The Covenant, by Thorne Moore #BookLaunch #Review #FridayReads


THE WELSH CRIME WRITING COLLECTIVE

Crime Cymru is a diverse collective of Welsh crime writers, spanning crime fiction and non-fiction.

Crime Cymru has three main aims.
– To support crime writers with a real and present relationship with Wales
– To help in the development of new writing talent
– To promote Wales, Welsh culture and Welsh crime writing in particular, to the wider world
.

2020, a year that brought us Covid 19, months during which many brilliant books have been produced but have struggled to be found by readers. Here is the list of books by our authors that have arrived this year or are in the pipeline: https://bit.ly/2Q2rqpA. I have read quite a few of them but have been remiss in writing reviews, so have set myself the task of catching up over the next few weeks

I will start the series by my review of The Covenant, by Thorne Moore, a prequel to A Time For Silence, and published by Honno only yesterday, the 20th August 2020.

Book Description:

Leah is tied to home and hearth by debts of love and duty – duty to her father, turned religious zealot after the tragic death of his eldest son, Tom; love for her wastrel younger brother Frank’s two motherless children. One of them will escape, the other will be doomed to follow in their grandfather’s footsteps.
At the close of the 19th century, Cwmderwen’s twenty-four acres, one rood and eight perches are hard won, and barely enough to keep body and soul together. But they are all the Owens have and their rent is always paid on time. With Tom’s death a crack is opened up and into this chink in the fabric of the family step Jacob John and his wayward son Eli, always on the lookout for an opportunity.
Saving her family, good and bad, saving Cwmderwen, will change Leah forever and steal her dreams, perhaps even her life

My Review:

The first thing I became aware of when reading The Covenant was of being drawn so quickly into the world of Cwmderwen. The immediacy of a sense of place is something I’ve been conscious of before in the work of this author. Thorne Moore has a talent for description: of the changes in nature throughout the seasons, the unpredictability of the weather and in her absolute ability to bring the countryside of Pembrokeshire in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century alive, both in The Time for Silence (her first novel set around Cwmderwen), and in The Covenant.

Told in the first person point of view of the protagonist, Leah Owen, a woman driven by duty, loyalty and love for her family (who always expect too much of her), the story follows her life through the decades. And, though the core of this thoroughly rounded character remains the same, the outward changes in her, wrought by life’s disappointments and regrets are inevitable as the years’ progress. I found myself wanting her to rebel, to question the road she’s forced to follow, not only through the whims and vagaries of the farm’s land; “twenty-four acres, one rood and eight perches” , but by the wishes of Thomas Owen, her father, Tadu, who rules the family through his inflexible translation of the Bible.

This is a man who is unbending: in his control over his wife ( a control that leads to disaster), in his dismissal of his two eldest daughters, in his view of Leah’s younger brother, Frank – the “prodigal” son; a son who goes his own way, despite his father’s violent punishments, and whose story inevitably shapes Leah’s life, In contrast Thomas is unchanging in his love for Leah – but there is a proviso; it is only on his terms. She will be the dutiful daughter, forced to follow his rules. This is a wonderfully portrayed character underlying the basis of the actions of the family. Though Leah is the protagonist and it is her story we follow, it is Tadu who is at the patriarchal hub of the wheel and, like spokes on that wheel, are spread a whole cast of supporting characters.

Even the cottage of Cwmderwen itself becomes a character with its “…solid stones and heavy timber (that) seem to sink themselves into the black earth…” yet there is that crack in the wall of the parlour, the “Death” room, that Leah’s demented sister traces with her finger, peers through – and Leah wonders if Mary can see “all those who have passed through, those Leah could not see…”. The crack used as a metaphor for the fundamental weaknesses of each character within the family and the flaws in the determination to hold on to the the “twenty-four acres, one rood and eight perches” 

As I previously mentioned, the author has a talent for bringing a Welsh ambience of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century alive, both in The Time for Silence and in The Covenant. This is awareness is equally obvious in the dialogue, where the Welsh language intermingles with English. And there is never any doubt as to which character is speaking.

Subtly threaded throughout the story are themes of duty, love – familial and romantic, pride,despair, loneliness, death and guilt – what more can one ask of a story set around families

As a reader, my favourite style of story is character led rather than plot. In The Covenant, I found the best of both worlds; a gripping story line with really believable characters. I cannot recommend The Covenant highly enough.

Although The Covenant is the prequel of A Time For Silence, both books are also stand alone and can be read as completely separate novels.

About the author:

Thorne Moore grew up in Luton, where her father was a Labour councillor and her mother once got the sack for calling her boss a male chauvenist pig, so she developed strong views about the way the world works. Her headmaster advised her to study law, but that implied a career in law, and the only career she wanted was as a writer, so she studied history instead, at Aberystwyth, and nine years later, after a spell working in a library, she returned to Wales, to beautiful and inspiring Pembrokeshire, to run a restaurant with her sister, Liz.

She did finally get her law degree, through the Open University, but these days, she writes, as she had always intended, and when she’s not writing,she makes miniature furniture, through her craft business, Pear Tree Miniatures, and occasionally she teaches family history.

History, personal and social, rather than political treaties and battles, remain a major interest, spurred along by her present home, a Victorian farmhouse that stands on the site of a Mediaeval manor. When she write about crime, as a traumatic turn of events that shakes people’s lives, she is primarily concerned with its causes and far-reaching consequences of actions, even through generations, rather than the thrill of the actions themselves, or the intricacies of forensic detection.

Links:

Facebook: https://bit.ly/2Yivh6o

Twitter: https://twitter.com/ThorneMoore

To buy:

Honno: https://bit.ly/2CHRyTo

Amazon.co.uk: https://amzn.to/3aFHqXQ

Today With Juliet Greenwood

Introducing the authors who will be at the Tenby Book Fair, http://bit.ly/27XORTh, the first event of the Tenby Arts Festival http://bit.ly/24eOVtl .  I’m looking forward to having many more such chats over the next couple of weeks. 

So far I’ve interrogated interviewed Rebecca Bryn: http://bit.ly/1XYWbtF, Thorne Moore: http://bit.ly/1P6zDQh , Matt Johnson: http://bit.ly/1RUqJFg , Christoph Fischer: http://bit.ly/1svniAr , Sally Spedding: http://bit.ly/1VNRQci, Wendy Steele: http://bit.ly/1PMoF8i ,Kathy MIles:  http://bit.ly/1twN3Bg , Carol Lovekin:http://bit.ly/1Y2z6HT, Colin R Parsons: http://bit.ly/1tvBc5G and Lisa Shambrook: http://bit.ly/28NMI5v:  and Alex Martin:  http://bit.ly/28VLsQG ,  Judith Arnopp:  http://bit.ly/290cJMl  and Sharon Tregenza: http://bit.ly/29frGPq  And thanks to Thorne Moore for interviewing me: http://bit.ly/1VTvqGq  Over the next week or two I’ll be introducing the rest of the authors. I’ll also be showcasing the publishers who will be in attendance and who will be giving short talks and may be able to give advice to would-be authors: http://honno.co.uk/ , http://www.fireflypress.co.uk/   and  http://www.cambriapublishing.org.uk/ ,

There may also be a short chat with John and Fiona of http://showboat.tv/ who, as usual, will be filming the event.

Today I’m chatting with the lovely author Juliet Greenwood, fellow Honno author and friend who writes the most wonderful books,

 Juliet and hat small

 

Welcome, Juliet. Great to see you here today. and love the hat by the way

 Why, thank you Judith, and it’s good to be here.

So, let’s get going, tell me … why did you choose to write in your particular field or genre? If you write more than one, how do you balance them?

I am published by Honno Press, and write historical novels, mainly set in the Victorian/Edwardian eras, which move between Cornwall, Wales and London. There is always a big house and a mystery to be solved, and plenty of drama along the way, so they are along the lines of Kate Morton and Rachel Hore.

I’ve chosen to write in this genre as I’m fascinated by the lives of women in those periods, especially the way things were changing, and the battles for the independence we take for granted today. So much of women’s lives have been forgotten, particularly how active they were, and how many campaigns they fought and won, despite having no legal existence for most of this period.

My first book ‘Eden’s Garden’ was a time-shift, with a mystery set between contemporary and Victorian times. I really enjoyed the challenge of writing a time-shift, so I’m hoping to be working on another timeshift mystery soon. I enjoy the challenge of moving between two times.

eden's_garden_cover:Layout 1

Where did your love of books/storytelling/reading/writing/etc. come from?

I was a bookworm as a child, who loved stories. My mum loved reading, so she always inspired me to try new things. She encouraged me to absorb the classics, which gave me a great background. It started a lifelong love affair with reading and writing!

Are there underrepresented groups or ideas featured if your book? .

I started researching ‘The White Camellia’, to be published by Honno this September, thinking that the background would be that of the suffragettes, but I soon came across the far less well-known suffrage movement, which was a revelation.

 

white camellia

The suffrage movement included both men and women who fought alongside each other for over fifty years for every citizen over the age of 21 to have the vote. Although a small number of men had the vote at the start of the campaign, this wasn’t achieved for either men or women until 1928. The women and men of the suffrage movement used democratic tactics, civil disobedience and persuasion. It also fought for equal employment rights for men and women, and won endless battles to give women legal rights, including to keep their earnings and property, and to keep their children in the case of divorce.

Although they didn’t resort to violence, they were brave and resourceful, especially when you consider that at the beginning of their campaign women had no legal existence at all. I think what I found most fascinating about the suffrage movement was that it showed women taking on those in power on their own terms and out-manoeuvring and outwitting them at every turn, using rational arguments (and a bit of clever publicity) to achieve many of the freedoms we take for granted today.

What is the biggest thing that people THINK they know about your subject/genre, that isn’t so?

I think the biggest misconception about the genre is that it’s always rich women floating around in nice houses, solving a bit of a mystery and probably finding a few pearls and Mr Darcy along the way. The greatest misconception about the struggle for the vote is that it was always violent – and that it was only about the women. In fact, most men in Victorian times also did not have the vote, and it was only the last few years when the violence erupted – and that was only after parliament, thanks to the work of the suffrage movement, had twice voted for women to have the vote.

I find that setting a story in the past can also be a way of exploring dilemmas that are universal and we still experience today. I feel the past can give more distance, so can give more freedom to explore experiences. As well as the role of women in politics, one of the main threads of the story in ‘The White Camellia’ is a character who takes the perfect revenge, with the most terrible and unexpected consequences – and that’s a story that could take place at any time.

What inspires you?

Primarily the untold stories of women. The more I learn, the clearer it becomes that so much of women’s achievements and experiences have not been told. Before I researched ‘We That are Left, I had no idea women worked on the front line in the First World War, often under fire, and were even given medals, as well as working as spies behind enemy lines. Although it’s now changing, too often women are still seen as passive victims, trailing behind their men, rather than being incredibly resourceful and resilient and worthy of taking centre stage. A love story is important – but there is so much more to women’s lives as well, including huge moral dilemmas, a need to live a fulfilled life, and the deep human need for self-determination.

 

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How did you get to be where you are in your life today?

Working hard, always reading, writing and learning – and never giving up! I’ve also tried to find jobs that allow me time and head space to write, which means I’ve never followed a conventional career path. It’s felt a bit scary at times, but I love what I do, and so it definitely feels it’s been worth it.

Are you a full-time or part-time writer? How does that affect your writing?

I’m a part-time writer at the moment. I earn most of my living as an academic proofreader. I work freelance to try and organise my life to do as much writing as possible. I enjoy the work, and it’s taught me to be precise in the use of language, and it’s definitely extended my vocabulary. The downside is never having enough time to write the next book while editing and doing publicity. It can be very frustrating at times, but I also feel it’s given me the freedom to develop as a writer.

For those interested in exploring the subject or theme of your book, where should they start?

There are some excellent books on the subject of the suffrage movement, these are some of the best introductions:

Margaret Forster                                               Significant sisters

Lucinda Hawksley                                           March Women, March

Melanie Phillips                                                The Ascent of Woman

How do you find or make time to write?

I get up about six each morning (weekends included!) to get my ‘day’ job done, which frees up as much of the day as possible. I try to have a set time for writing, but being freelance with strict deadlines that doesn’t always work. I walk my dog for a couple of hours each day, which I use as thinking time (just as valuable as writing time). I try to be strict about not spending too much time on social media (I have a room in the house that is a wifi free zone). I also try not to get sucked into series on TV (the Great British Bake Off and Sewing Bee don’t count!) and watch as little as possible, (except when I’m very tired and just want to switch off after a long day proofreading and writing, when I don’t want to see another word in front of me, and hanging out the brain to dry on the secret life of kittens just hits the spot). My friends know that I’ve sacrificed housework, except on a strictly necessary basis (like when expecting a plumber), and love me all the same.

MEDIA LINKS

 ‘We That Are Left’, Honno Press, 2014

The Welsh Books Council’s Book of the Month, March 2014

The National Museum of Wales Book of the Month, March 2014

Waterstones Wales Book of the Month March, 2014

Amazon Kindle #4 May 2014

http://www.amazon.co.uk/That-Are-Left-Juliet-Greenwood/dp/190678499X

 

‘Eden’s Garden’, Honno Press, 2012

Finalist for ‘The People’s Book Prize’, May 2014

Amazon Kindle #5 June 2014

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Edens-Garden-Juliet-Greenwood/dp/1906784353

 

Website:          http://www.julietgreenwood.co.uk/

Blog:                 http://julietgreenwoodauthor.wordpress.com/

Facebook:        https://www.facebook.com/juliet.greenwood

Twitter:            https://twitter.com/julietgreenwood