Letters from Elsewhere

Today’s guest has travelled here through air and time. Joseph Flynn comes from 18th Century Ireland, where he plays an important role in Heart of Stone by John Jackson. He is Agent to Lord Belvedere, the former Robert Rochfort. He also forms part of an intelligence network, put in place in a turbulent Ireland, following the Cromwellian Wars.

Joseph has brought a letter to Mr Stafford, a very highly placed functionary at the Horseguards, headquarters of the British Army. Let’s read what he wrote.

To Mr. Stafford,
Principal Secretary,
Horseguards,
London.

My dear Mr Stafford,

As requested, I have been following the activities of my employer here in Westmeath.
As your Lordship knows, the Rochfort family remain a dominant force here. The harvest has been terrible, and Mr George Rochfort seems determined to force as many families from their farms as possible. Lord Robert and his lady wife are a curious couple. She is young and sweet natured. Everyone on the estate, and here in Mullingar, loves her. She always makes time to speak to those she meets, including myself. A most amiable lady.
His Lordship is not so amiable. He neglects his estate, and as his agent, that is a matter of much concern to me. I try frequently to bring important matters to his attention, but without success. He seems to have no time for anything but the plans for his new house.
I hear that recruiting for the Army is poor. If the local men can stay on their land, they will. Some of the recruits come from families who have been thrown off their land. They must join the Army or starve. We need a soft winter.

For the rest, the county of Westmeath remains calm. I hear no complaints from the garrison, other than the usual complaints of the soldiery. I have heard occasional reports of French priests wandering the land. Should I hear anything of a definite nature, I will inform your Lordship.

My contacts do advise me that Lord Belvedere, my employer, is most certainly not a popular person. When in his cups he has been known to blurt out matters which should better be left unsaid. Although his young wife seems a most engaging and delightful lady, and, as I stated, is extremely popular in Mullingar and the area, the same cannot be said of her husband. She has already given his lordship a daughter; an event which, for most men would be a cause for rejoicing. Not so for his lordship. He seems to be putting the lack of a son and heir before all other concerns.

I continue to observe all I can, and assuring you of my diligence in service of his Majesty, I remain your humble and obedient servant,

Joseph Flynn. Agent to the Lord Belvedere.

I see. You’re spying on your employer. I suppose you think that’s in a good cause, do you? Ah, he’s gone.

About Heart of Stone

Heart Of Stone by John JacksonDublin, 1730

When young and beautiful Mary Molesworth is forced to marry Robert Rochford, widowed heir to the earldom of Belfield, she finds that her idea of love is not returned. Jealous, cruel and manipulative, Robert ignores her after she has provided him with a male heir, preferring to spend his nights with his mistress. Power-hungry, Robert builds up a reputation that sees him reach for the highest positions in Ireland.

Caught in an unhappy marriage, Mary begins to grow closer to Robert’s younger brother, Arthur. Acknowledging their love for each other, they will risk everything to be together. But Robert’s revenge threatens their lives and tears them apart.

Will Mary and Arthur find a way to escape Robert’s clutches?

Based on real events, Heart of Stone is a tale of power, jealousy, imprisonment, and love, set in 1740s Ireland. It is available from Amazon.

About John Jackson

John JacksonFollowing a lifetime at sea, John Jackson has now retired and lives in York. After thirty years of non-fiction writing, drafting safety procedures and the like, he has now turned his hand to writing fiction.

An avid genealogist, he found a rich vein of ancestors going back many generations. His forebears opened up Canada and Australia and fought at Waterloo.
A chance meeting with some authors, now increasingly successful, led him to try to turn some of his family history into historical novels.

John is a keen member of the Romantic Novelists Association and graduated through their New Writers Scheme. He is also a member of the Historic Novel Association and an enthusiastic conference-goer for both organizations.

He describes himself as being “Brought up on Georgette Heyer from an early age, and, like many of my age devoured R L Stevenson, Jane Austen, R M Ballantyne, and the like.”

You can find John on Facebook and Twitter, and on his website.

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I’ve just finished reading an amazing book. Books that I mention on this blog are all special, but this one is extra special and I’m shouting about it from every rooftop I can find.

Here’s my review:

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I was in Liverpool, Australia, New Zealand and Ireland – not now, but nearly two hundred years ago. Actually, I’ve only been to one of those places and what I saw in no way prepared me for what I read in this book. The descriptions are so vivid, the scenes so real that I felt I was there with the characters, through all their hopes and suffering.

I’ve never read a historical story that has held my attention as this one did. Most historical fiction has sections that are less interesting, that I have to struggle through to move on to more appealing parts. But this novel captivated me throughout.

I’ve read Jo Carroll’s travel memoirs, but never realised she was capable of this. I salute her and sincerely hope she’s planning more novels like this one.

Blurb

It’s 1848. And Sara, aged fourteen, must leave her family in the stinking potato fields of Ireland to seek a better life with her wealthy aunt in Liverpool. But her uncle has different ideas.

Will she find solace among the dockers? She finds love, but becomes embroiled in the unrest of the Irish men and women who live in squalor in the Liverpool slums. Yet her efforts to help them only enrage her uncle further.

Her escape takes her to the other side of the world. But there is no comfort in the dusty outback of Australia nor the gold fields of New Zealand. For she has left behind something more precious to her than life itself.

I offered to proofread this book. In the end, I fell in love with it and did a lot more than proofreading. I suppose what I did was closer to editing. Not that it needed a lot of editing. The author obviously has extensive background knowledge and has worked hard to weave an intriguing plot round the places and things he describes, with the help of some believable and well-rounded characters.

In addition, this novel tackles a difficult topic that needs to be discussed more: the exploitation of youthful beauty – the sale of children’s images.

David Rory O’Neill blogs here, and you can see descriptions of all his novels on his blog.

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There’s going to be a gap on this blog while I catch up with real life. I’ll be back next month.