How far would you go to save the person you loved the most? It’s 1941, and Annie Beynon has just become the first stable girl for the most powerful family in her Welsh village. Whilst her gift for working with horses is clear, there are some who are willing to make her life very difficult on the Pryce estate, simply for being a girl. There are other – secret – ways Annie is defying conventions, too. As the war rages, and when Edmund, the heir to the Pryce fortune, leaves to join the RAF, it seems that it’s only a matter of time before Annie’s secret is exposed. That is, until she makes a shocking decision. It’s 1963 before Annie is able to face up to the secret she chose to keep over twenty years before. Justifying that decision takes her to Normandy in France, and an outcome she could never have expected …
I really like this author’s writing style, easy to read yet with a depth of narrative that draws the reader immediately into the lives of the characters and their story.
All the characters are rounded and multi-layered, and add much to the plot, but this is definitely the protagonist, Annie Beynon’s story. She is portrayed as a strong-willed and determined young woman, unconventional for her time, yet, like many during those years, she falls prey to her emotions and needs to live with the consequences. Her journey through life from the Second World War and into the 1960s is consistent with her character throughout every circumstance, every decision made.
The privations of the era, the social divisions of the time are shown through each character’s dialogue which strengthens their personalities. I particularly liked the differences in the syntax of sentences and shown accents that highlights their social and class standing.
This is also portrayed through the evocative descriptions of the various settings and lifestyles. There is no doubt that the author has thoroughly researched the decades that Her Nanny’s Secret is set against.
There are various themes that run throughout the book: The main theme of secrets is threaded around strong elements of romance and familial love, and, crafted around those, are themes of life’s hardships, loyalty, duty, jealousy and rivalry.
I try not to give spoilers in my reviews, but I hope the above gives a flavour of Her Nanny’s Secret. This is a well-balanced, evenly paced and well written novel and one I have no hesitation in recommending to any reader who loves romance, but also enjoys a family story.
Originally from mid-Wales, Jan lives in Cardiff with her husband.
After retiring from a career in teaching and advisory education, Jan joined a small writing group in a local library where she wrote her first piece of fiction. From then on, she was hooked!Fascinated by family secrets and ‘skeletons lurking in cupboards’, Jan’s dual narrative novels explore how decisions and actions made by family members from one generation impact on the lives of the next. Setting plays an important part in Jan’s stories and as well as her native mid-Wales, there is always a contrasting location – Greece, Sicily and northern France
To find out more about Jan, she may be contacted on:
On Saturday 16th January 2021 we had our first Showboat Literary Online. We had a great line up of writers, lots of fun – and lots of interviewing glitches ( for the editing team at Showboat to sort out in order to showcase the event in the next months. But, most importantly, it was interesting to listen to all those who appeared to give us the lowdown on their writing and latest books.
Thorne Moore and I shared the interviewing chair. This is what Thorne had to say about the day, “:I expect everyone is saying it, but it was so good, after a year under siege, to be able to meet up with other authors again and talk about books, writing and the joys or otherwise of publishing, just to remind ourselves that the world will be back on its axis one day.”
And, just to remind everyone, these are two of Thorne’s books, published by Honno.
I was very pleased to take part in Showboat TV’s first Virtual LitFest. As always, I worried about being in the limelight but interviewer Judith put us at ease straight away. It gave me an opportunity to promote my two novels published during lockdown and reading an extract from my debut was a highlight. Afterwards we went into breakout rooms with other authors to chat about our books and our writing. I enjoyed ‘meeting in person’, albeit virtually, writers I follow on social media as well as catching up with others I haven’t seen for some time. A successful day, I think. Thank you, everybody.
I was thrilled to be invited to join in the Showboat TV event on 16th January, especially as Judith Barrow, who I’ve known for some years, was my interviewer. One of the joys of Zoom events is that sometimes you suddenly come face to face with people you haven’t seen for ages, even if it is via cyberspace and not in a café. I also liked how we were reassured our presence in the waiting room was noted. Also, there was a relaxed atmosphere and plenty of laughs so hopefully viewers will enjoy visiting these interviews.
I just wanted to thank Judith Barrow for helping us to showcase our work at yesterday’s LitFest and to send my gratitude to Showboat TV for their time and effort in organizing it and making it happen. I had a really enjoyable time. Judith was the perfect host – friendly, reassuring and generous with her questions. Any apprehensions were quickly dispelled and the meeting up with people afterwards was a genuine pleasure. Showboat TV managed my tech ignorance without making me feel like an idiot and I’d definitely sign up to another one!
The event was great idea. The time slot for each interview was spot on – long enough to introduce the work and answer a few questions. The chat room was great for catching up with old friends and making new ones. I found I was torn between watching the interviews and meeting up with fellow authors! All credit to everyone, it was an enjoyable event and can hopefully be repeated
I was very excited to take part in Showboat TV’s Online Lit Fest. It was the first opportunity I’d had to talk publicly about my new novel, Emmet and Me, and it felt absolutely wonderful to discuss books and writing again – a rare delight for me during the pandemic!
On the whole a rewarding day. I enjoyed my interview and the opportunity to talk about my book, and meeting other writers, so rare in these strange times. As an expat living in Kent, it was good to connect with Welsh writers, and heartening to see that the grand tradition of Welsh volubility is alive and flourishing. I’m most impressed by so much creativity and dedication . Once I realised that the tech gremlins weren’t conspiring against me I relaxed and enjoyed it. Diolch yn fawr.
Fabulous opportunity to have a literary festival online and thanks to www.showboat.tv for making it happen. Sincere thanks also to Judith Barrow and Thorne Moore for their sensitive interviews, making everyone feel at ease. I hope there will be another one, when perhaps the public could join in an open forum too, helping us to reach out to readers old and new. I really enjoyed getting together with other local authors again and learning more about their work.
Showboat’s Lit Fest was the first online one I had done. From the very beginning I was made to feel comfortable. I popped into room 2 before my interview and networked with a few authors, then I went on to be interviewed by Thorne Moore. It went well and I did a reading, then I was back in Room 2. I found myself discussing everything from being BAME to illustrating. It was a wonderful day and I enjoyed myself. Goodness it flew past fast. I loved every minute. I would jump at the chance again.
The event was great to be honest. The short slots for each interview was just right. Having the chat room was a good idea to catch up with old friends. The only thing I would say is if there was more notice for the audience, then maybe there may be more chance of questions. Other than that… an enjoyable LitFest.
I thought the online Litfest was a great success and I was so grateful to be included. I was a little nervous at first but you and Thorne did a great job creating a relaxing atmosphere during the interviews. It was lovely to catch up and see all the authors. Writing can be a lonely business and we’ve all missed out on the social gatherings at the book fairs.
I thought it was really well done overall. the interviews and break out sections worked fine. The only thing I found was that when I was looking for it, I went on the showboat.tv site, but I couldn’t find a link to the event, so I had to go hunt a direct link, and that was okay because I had them to hand, but for other viewers, it might have been a bit more difficult. Generally though, a great day. Well done and thanks for the opportunity.
Helen May Williams I really enjoyed the event; especially chatting with Thorne about my writing. There’s so much to talk about, since I write in different genres. Besides a lifetime’s worth of academic writing, I’ve published post-romantic poetry in The Princess of Vix and linked haiku in Catstrawe. In Before SilenceI translated haiku by Michel Onfray, a popular but controversial French philosopher and now I’ve published a biographical novel, June. All my writing starts with an idea but then involves a lot of research before creating the finished text. I could have talked for hours!
And that was our line up for Showboat’s Literary Online 2021.
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading the writers’ thoughts on how the day went. Please feel free to follow them on social media and check out all their brilliant books.
I am so pleased to be talking with Jan Baynham on my blog today. Having known Jan for some years and seen her writing going from strength to strength I was thrilled to hear that she is one of the contenders for the Romantic Novelists’ Association (RNA) 2020 prestigious Joan Hessayon Award for new writers, the award for all the authors whose debut novels have been accepted for publication after passing through the Romantic Novelists’ Association New Writers’ Scheme.Before I knew this I’d read, loved, and reviewed her book. This is my review:Her Mother’s Secret.
I have always been intrigued by family secrets and the fact that these sometimes do not come to light until after a person has died. I read of someone who was sorting through her mother’s things after her death and found a diary. In there, the young woman learned about a part of her mother’s life she knew nothing about. The ‘what ifs?’ started in my head. At the time, I’d been reading a novel where the rustling in the trees sounded like whispers and inanimate statues took on the form of ghosts of the people they represented. Perhaps the whispering could show the presence of a past family member. Always fascinated by the bond between mothers and daughters, this was basis for Her Mother’s Secret. Very often, the close relationship between mothers and daughters means that they would know things about each other no one else would. I wanted to explore how my character, Alexandra, would feel when she found out about her mother, Elin’s secret life. How could her mother have kept this from her? How would she feel? I needed Elin to have been able to keep her secret from everyone, even her own mother, until she died. Did Elin have a conscience when she left her diary to Alexandra?
I decided that Elin would be an artist, having just finished art college. She travels to Greece to further her painting skills and while there, something happens that she never mentions again. I chose a setting where the colours would be more vibrant and intense perhaps than in her home country of Wales. Having visited many times and being struck by the wonderful palette of colours seen in every landscape, Greece was my obvious inspiration. Elin’s daughter, Alexandra, arrives on Péfka, a small island off the Peloponnese in Southern Greece, to follow in her mother’s footsteps to find out what happened there twenty-two years earlier. Péfka is purely fictional and is not based on one particular place; it’s an amalgam of areas I’ve visited – a beach or street here, a taverna or workshop there where I’ve met characters when getting out into Greek villages. Every holiday has inspired me with contributions to create characters and settings that are hopefully authentic showing the climate, the vivid colours of the sea and the flowers as well as the warmth of its people.
Her Mother’s Secret was published in April this year by Ruby Fiction. I’m grateful to the Romantic Novelists’ Association for the role its New Writers’ Scheme played in helping me realise my dream of becoming a published author. The novel was critiqued on two occasions by experienced scheme readers. The first time, I’d submitted a partially written manuscript that was followed by the full manuscript the next year. The helpful and incredibly positive advice I received on both occasions was invaluable and gave me the motivation to submit my novel to publishers. Having ‘graduated’ from being unpublished to published via the scheme, I am eligible to be a proud contender for the 2020 Joan Hessayon Award along with twenty other debut novelists.
Blurb forHer Mother’s Secret:: A secret left behind in the summer of ’69 …
It’s 1969 and free-spirited artist ElinMorgan has left Wales for a sun-drenched Greek island. As she makes new friends and enjoys the laidback lifestyle, she writes all about it in her diary. But Elin’s carefree summer of love doesn’t last long, and her island experience ultimately leaves her with a shocking secret …
Twenty-two years later, Elin’s daughter Alexandra has inherited the diary and is reeling from its revelations. The discovery compels Alexandra to make her own journey to the same island, following in her mother’s footsteps. Once there, she sets about uncovering what really happened to Elin in that summer of ’69.
About the author:
After retiring from a career in teaching and advisory education, Jan joined a small writing group in a local library where she wrote her first piece of fiction. From then on, she was hooked! She soon went on to take a writing class at the local university and began to submit short stories for publication to a wider audience. Her stories and flash fiction pieces have been longlisted and short listed in competitions and several appear in anthologies both online and in print. In October 2019, her first collection of stories was published. Her stories started getting longer and longer so that, following a novel writing course, she began to write her first full length novel. She loves being able to explore her characters in more depth and delve further into their stories. She writes about family secrets and the bond between mothers and daughters. Set in the last year of the ‘60s, Her Mother’s Secret takes you to sun-drenched Greece, her favourite holiday destination.
Originally from mid-Wales, Jan lives in Cardiff with her husband. She values the friendship and support from other RNA members and regularly attends conferences, workshops, talks and get togethers. She is co-organiser of Cariad, her local RNA Chapter.
‘Her Mother’s Secret’ is available on from Amazon:
Another wonderful sixties saga from the author of Her Mother’s Secret.
How far would you travel to find the truth? It’s the 1960s and Jennifer Howells is a young woman with the world at her feet, just on the cusp of leaving her Welsh village for an exciting life in the city. Then the contents of an inconspicuous brown envelope turn Jennifer’s world upside down. The discovery leaves her spiralling, unsure who she is. Overnight, Miss Goody Two Shoes is replaced by a mini-skirted wild child who lives for parties and rock’n’roll. But Jennifer’s experience with the excesses of sixties’ culture leaves her no closer to her true identity. She soon realises she’ll have to travel further – first to Cardiff, then across the ocean to Sicily – if she wants to find out who she really is …
It’s 1969 and free-spirited artist Elin Morgan has left Wales for a sun-drenched Greek island. As she makes new friends and enjoys the laidback lifestyle, she writes all about it in her diary. But Elin’s carefree summer of love doesn’t last long, and her island experience ultimately leaves her with a shocking secret … Twenty-two years later, Elin’s daughter Alexandra has inherited the diary and is reeling from its revelations. The discovery compels Alexandra to make her own journey to the same island, following in her mother’s footsteps. Once there, she sets about uncovering what really happened to Elin in that summer of ’69.
I looked forward to reading this debut novel by Jan Baynham for quite a while and I wasn’t disappointed. The author has an easy writing style that I really like, I love the story, which has a brilliant dramatic opening and, unusual for me, I read the book in one fairly long session.
Her Mother’s Secret is set against the background of the Greek island of Péfka during completely different eras; 1969 and 2011 .These two time frames are linked by the two main characters, Alexandra and her mother, Elin and are connected through time, by the diary that Alexandra has found after her mother’s death.
I don’t like giving spoilers in my reviews; I try to explain what I like about a book.
Both Elin and Alexandra are complex and well-rounded characters, and very much of their time. And, although they are never together in any scenes in the novel, the love they had for each other is threaded throughout Her Mother’s Secret. But there is one big difference in the two; Elin Morgan is following her dreams by becoming an art student at a summer painting school, run by a famous artist, on Péfka. Alexandra, still grieving, is on the islandseeking answers to the disclosures in her mother’s diary
And the author has ensured that the reader becomes engrossed in these characters by intertwining their stories with a cast of believable minor characters and the detailed and redolent descriptions of the Greek island, the harbour, the art school The portrayal of all the settings give an evocative sense of place.
The book moves at a good pace with a number of twists and turns that sometimes took me by surprise and sometimes gave me a feeling of ‘Ah-ha!; my suspicions, picked up through the foreshadowing the author has slipped into the story, coming to fruition is always satisfying to a reader.
There are many themes running through Her Mother’s Secret: of love, relationships, mystery, crime, secrets and friendships, all woven to give a good balance of romance with a believable darker side of life.
All in all, Her Mother’s Secret is a novel I would recommend to any reader who enjoys a story that is grounded in the Romance genre but reveals itself to be so much more.
About the author:
After retiring from a career in teaching and advisory education, Jan joined a small writing group in a local library where she wrote her first piece of fiction. From then on, she was hooked!
She soon went on to take a writing course at the local university and began to submit stories for publication to a wider audience. In October 2019, her first collection of short stories, ‘Smashing the Mask and Other Stories’ was published.
Following a novel writing course, Jan began to write her first full length novel. She loves being able to explore characters in greater depth and delve into their stories. She writes about family secrets and the bond between mothers and daughters. Partly set in the last year of the 60s, ‘Her Mother’s Secret’, takes you to sun-drenched Greece, her favourite holiday destination.
Originally from mid-Wales, Jan lives in Cardiff with her husband.