|Read our review|
|read our review|
|Read our review|
|read our review|
Camille is quite headstrong, with a tendency to ignore convention, take risks, not toe the line. Mariele is less so, at first in awe of, and perhaps a little envious of Camille. But neither is stereo-typically 'feisty' and both are hugely aware of their place in society, and their duty, despite railing against it at times. Camille lives life to the full in part because of the death of her sister, Juliette. It is as if she is living life for the both of them, and this drive, born of such a loss, felt very credible. She knows, even before the siege begins, that life is fragile and can be snuffed out in a moment. This knowledge informs her actions.
The horrors of war, the effects of the violence not only on the soldiers but on the civilians, are graphically and unsparingly described. The author has an economy of words which gives us the bare detail, and somehow makes it more visual. However for me the main interest lies in the development of the young women and their burgeoning awareness not only of what war can do to people's lives, but of their own place in the world. Did it take war to make them realise that marriage and children are sometimes not enough, or was it the age in which they were living? There is a stark contrast between their privileged existence and the plight of the poor of Paris. The women who live in the poorer quarters agitate for change and a powerful message comes through that women from all corners of society want, nay demand, more rights.
Woven into this driving narrative are the individual stories, the breaching of the divide between rich and poor, and the brave people who put their lives and careers on hold in order to help the war effort. One such example is the actress Sarah Bernhardt who here is shown turning her theatre into a hospital. In such times, social niceties have to be ignored, to the acceptance of some and to the horror of others: there are situations where young ladies cannot be chaperoned, for example; these moments, and the day that Mariele brings two poor children back to her family's grand house, demonstrate that this was an age where the older generation in particular were at first scandalised and then had to grow to accept the changes all around them, changes that would endure beyond the war.
This period of French history is not one with which I was familiar, and the author has a knack of providing just enough information about the military campaign without slowing down the narrative. There is no awkward exposition, and no 'info dumping'. The characters who provide the news do so in a believable and logical way; they would indeed have been the ones to receive the intelligence. Other characters talk about what they've read in the newspapers, in a very conversational style.
The only thing I would have liked to have seen explained is how Andre, a young man of Camille's acquaintance, initially came to be doing his dangerous work, more of which I won't say, for fear of spoilers.
|now also in paperback|
Father, grandfather, husband and treasured friend
A kind, generous, witty and supportive gentleman
Some while before Christmas 2020 my dear friend, and stalwart supporter of indie writers became ill – terminally, as it turned out, with diabetes and circulation problems, cancer, Covid 19 and then a stroke, which left him bed-bound, unable to use his hands efficiently and affected his voice. Before all this happened, I was intending to indie-publish Richard’s first short novel, The North Finchley Writers’ Group, and thereby help him achieve a life-long ambition of publishing a novel. He had already been immensely proud of the two volumes of short stories of Melody Mayhem that had been published for him by Gaskell Press in 2020, but NFWG was to be a full ‘writ long’ story.
It had started, however, with a simple short story about a group of writers, which I casually suggested could make a darn good short novel.
Richard thought about the idea... and started writing.
I loved what he came up with, a fly-on-the-wall type story where the reader eavesdrops on the members of a writers’ group based in North Finchley, London, where Richard lived for several years and remained an area close to his heart. The group members have their secrets, their hopes, their despairs (as writers, don’t we all?) and there’s a bit of romance flourishing for good measure. Richard cleverly wove into the story some hints and tips for budding new or novice writers: choosing character’s names, cover design tips, some ‘dos and don’ts’ – all knowledge gleaned from his love of supporting new and established indie authors to ‘do well’
Richard was passionate about this support. He had been an avid reader since childhood when he discovered the 'romances' (as they called them then) of H. Rider Haggard and Edgar Rice Burroughs. Dejah Thoris, he claimed, was probably his first crush. Nevertheless, it wasn't until he retired in 2013 that he began writing short stories seriously, contributing regularly to Discovering Diamonds' annual feature of Stories Inspired By A Song, and also to a Richard III-based anthology, entitled Right Trusty and Well Beloved.
Sadly, he became ill before NFWG had completed its editing – so I took over the task of the ‘final polish’. As his medical problems increased I decided to pull out all the stops to ensure that he achieved his life-long ambition of having a novel published. I was determined that Richard would hold a copy of his little paperback in his hands and enjoy some of the favourable reviews that followed. I’m so pleased that this was achieved – thanks to Cathy Helms of Avalon Graphics for designing the classy and eye-catching cover, to Alison Morton who formatted the text ready for publishing, to Caz Greenham, Elizabeth St John, Nicky Galliers and Annie Whitehead for proof reading and editing – and especially, to an author who wishes to remain anonymous, who funded some of the cost involved.
|Richard's passion for music|
inspired many of his short stories
I first ‘met’ Richard when, in 2011, purely on a whim, he applied to my plea for more reviewers for the Historical Novel Society’s indie authors reviews, of which I was, then, Managing Editor.
Having always enjoyed reading about characters of history, he thought, “well, why not?” He soon found himself caught up, not only in the stories that others had created, but the hoary problem facing all independent writers. Like many, he had assumed that Indie Publishing was either something akin to Vanity Publishing or books that weren't good enough for mainstream publishers.
“How wrong I was!” he later said.
Richard quickly cottoned on to the fact that many indie-written novels were good – very good, in fact. He also realised that indie writers had a hard time getting noticed, so set about “doing something to help”. He did this by reading, reading, reading – and giving fair, honest, constructive reviews. He would always consider that the author had spent blood, sweat and tears in producing their baby – for indies, financing and publicising it themselves. Therefore every effort should be made by a reviewer to honour that commitment by being fair.
At the tail end of 2016 I decided to open my own review blog (Discovering Diamonds) and Richard wholeheartedly and enthusiastically supported and assisted me to set the site up. #DDRevs (as it is fondly called) went from strength to strength with Richard as our Senior Reviewer (I repeatedly assured him that this meant our ‘top’ reviewer – not our eldest!)
Richard took the time to correspond with authors who hadn’t quite got things right, explaining why and suggesting another edit, or a quick proof read to correct the too-many typos. His greatest pride was reviewing, and loving, Paul Marriner’s novel The Blue Bench, which I subsequently selected as the #DDRevs Book Of The Year.
Richard was also my ‘Book Buddy’, he would read through my early drafts and give his honest feedback and opinion. In return, I gave his name to a character in my Sea Witch novels – Richie Tearle appears in On The Account (and will be in future Voyages)
I miss our email correspondence, and it will be a lasting regret that we never actually met. I even miss his terrible jokes that were so bad, you just had to laugh.
Richard was born in Muswell Hill, London and nearly went to school with the Kinks and Rod Stewart. Starting work at the Ever Ready Company in 1964, he moved on to the Performing Right Society and ended his working life as a Civil Servant. Retiring in 2013, he lived in Lichfield, Staffordshire. He leaves four children and an equal number of grandchildren, and many writers who will remember him with deep fondness and gratitude.
Richard was a life-long Tottenham Hotspur football supporter, liked most sports, especially tennis, and also followed the New Orleans Saints in the NFL.
He said of himself: “I take neither life nor myself seriously.”
Tributes from fellow authors:
From Annie Whitehead:
Comments From Facebook:
Kathryn Gauci: Oh no! I am so sad to hear this. He was always so supportive of me and we shared some fun posts. A huge loss. Condolences to his family.
Judith Arnopp: Very sad, he will be missed
Judith Greenwell: Sorry to hear the news, my deepest sympathy to Richard's family. RIP Richard.
Dave McCall: Really, really sorry to hear this. I'm just 80% through The North Finchley Writers' Group - it's a great legacy Richard's left us!
Paul Marriner: Sad news. He was such a good guy, a very good writer and so supportive of others.
Debbie Young: I'm so sorry to heart that, Helen, and my heart goes out to him, his family and his many friends. It was a wonderful thing you did to get his book across the finishing line while he was still able to appreciate it
MJ Logue: Oh I am so sad to hear this.
Liz Barrett: A lovely man who Dave and I got to meet. He will be very sadly missed.
Erica Lainé: I am so very sorry. He was exceptionally supportive of writers. He will be missed by his community.
Colin Crosby: I am so sorry to hear this. I met Richard several years ago when I led a Guided Walk in Lichfield, and found him a convivial companion. Rest in peace, Richard
Mary Anne Yarde: Such sad news.
Janet Lonton Was Sparey: So very sorry to learn of Richard's passing. My deepest sympathy.
Wendy Myers: How very sad. Thoughts to his family and friends.
Elisabeth Anne Millard: Sad news condolences to his family and friends
Claire Dunn: Very sad.
Kelly Confer-Stambaugh: Sincerest condolences to Richard’s family
Marsha Lambert: Very sad news! My condolences
Jeanette Taylor Ford: Oh, I'm so sorry to hear that. I was looking forward to being able to tell him how much I enjoyed his book. My condolences to all the people who loved him.
Jane G. Harlond: I can't believe we won't have Richard with us any longer. So very sad. Love and good wishes to all family and those of you close to him.
Alison Morton: Very sad. He loved books and his reviews were detailed and enthusiastic and always full of support advice for authors, all delivered in a gentle but well-defined voice. His short stories were atmospheric and clever. Vale, Richard!
Loretta Livingstone: Oh, I'm so sad about that. I didn't know him well but we had chatted. I know his son was reading reviews of his books to him and hope it gave him joy to realise his dream of publishing.
Clare Flynn: Oh no. I am really sad and sorry to hear that. He will be missed. Condolences to his family.
Wendy Percival: So sorry to hear the sad news. I was wondering only the other day how he was getting on. My condolences to his family.
Liz St.John: So saddened. A fine and generous man, and a dear friend to writers everywhere. My thoughts are with his family for such a heartfelt loss.
Inge H. Borg: So sorry to hear this. He was such a staunch supporter of his writer colleagues. My condolences to his family.
Lisa Williams Adair: My sincere condolences his family.
Katherine Pym: I am so sorry to hear this. I wondered where he'd gone to when I stopped seeing his lovely reviews. Sadness all around.
Deborah Swift: Really sorry to hear it. A much loved member of our community who always supported other writers with a generous spirit.
Char Newcomb: So sorry to hear this. He will be missed.
Cryssa Bazos: I’m so very sorry. Richard has been in my thoughts since learning of his health problems. My condolences to his family and dear friends.
Elizabeth Chadwick: Oh I am sorry to hear that. I never knew him personally, but he always seemed like a lovely man.
Amy Wilson Maroney: What a kind and generous man, and what a profound loss. I'm so sad to hear this news
Paulette Mahurin: I’m so sorry to see this. My condolences to his family and friends.
Derek Birks: A sad loss. Richard was a terrific chap.
Elisabeth Hawkins: I'm so sorry. I'm sending condolences to his family and the many friends he had.
Matthew Harffy: I remember Richard championing my books from the beginning. I always looked forward to his reviews and was pleased to see he'd published a book. My sincere condolences.
BY RICHARD TEARLE
Available on Amazon
Melody Mayhem: A collection of short stories
Melody Mayhem: The Second Movement
The North Finchley Writers’ Group