I am delighted to welcome back to the blog , the author, Jane Jackson to talk about her latest historical fiction novel, The Master's Wife
Hi Jane and welcome back to Jaffareadstoo. Thank you for spending time with us today and for sharing your book with us.
Hi Jo, Thanks so much for inviting me onto your blog and allowing me the opportunity to tell readers about my latest historical romance.
‘The Master’s Wife’ is a ‘stand-alone’ book, but it is also a sequel to ‘The Consul’s Daughter’ (shortlisted for the RoNA historical prize 2016)
That story ended with Caseley and Jago having been through hell to reach their richly-deserved happy-ever-after. Finding the person with whom you want to spend the rest of your life is an emotionally satisfying ending to a romantic novel. But in real life it’s only the beginning of a new and different life as a couple.
By 1881, seven years after the end of ‘The Consul’s Daughter’, Caseley has two young sons so can no longer accompany Jago on his voyages.
What is the worst that could happen to a loving mother and how will she deal with it? This is the story’s premise. But I needed a dramatic background that would echo the crisis Caseley and Jago are facing in their marriage.
I found it when I read Wilfred Blunt’s account of the 1882 uprising in Egypt – a war few in this country have ever heard of – which led to the British Navy’s bombardment of Alexandria.
This beautiful, cosmopolitan city, founded in 331 BC by Alexander the Great, grew to be the largest in the known world. Even as Rome reigned supreme, Alexandria remained prosperous and a magnet to visitors from all over the globe, drawn to the magnificent library of over 500,000 books.
Over the next six centuries it was ravaged by wars then rebuilt. By 646 CE Egypt was under Islamic rule and, according to Christian legend, Muslim conquerors burned the great library. By 1323 war and earthquakes had destroyed the city including the lighthouse of Pharos, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world.
In 1805 Egypt was a satellite state of the Ottoman Empire. Mohammed Ali was appointed viceroy, and the resurrection of Alexandria began. In the 1820s Egypt began growing cotton and by 1840 demand from Europe was making Alexandria rich. As wealth increased so did the importance of banking and commerce.
A rail link was built between Alexandria and Cairo in 1856; the Malta to Alexandria Telegraph was opened in 1861; the cotton boom created by the American Civil War in the early 1860s; and the 1869 opening of the Suez Canal all increased prosperity. Important foreign diplomats established consulates and created a European-style atmosphere. The city remained the capital of Egypt until 1863 when Ismail Pasha came to power.
But by 1879 Ismail’s grandiose schemes had driven the country into bankruptcy. Deposed by the sultan in favour of his son Tewfiq at Britain’s insistence, Ismail left for Italy. Britain and France became joint managers of Egypt’s finances.
Taxed into abject poverty by Ismail, and furious at Tewfiq’s close ties with British and French financiers, ordinary Egyptians had had enough and found a charismatic leader in Egyptian-born Colonel Ahmed Arabi.
Claiming concern for the safety of the Suez Canal (which was never in danger) the British Government sent Admiral Beauchamp Seymour to Alexandria with fifteen Royal Navy ironclads to support khedive Tewfiq. A French flotilla joined Admiral Seymour. This strengthened nationalist feeling throughout Egypt.
On 11th June, after anti-Christian riots in Alexandria, the city's European residents fled and the Egyptian army began strengthening the harbour forts. Admiral Seymour warned Colonel Arabi to stop the work or face his guns. The khedive (prompted by the British) invited him to the palace to discuss terms. But without the sultan’s consent Arabi had no power to negotiate. If he didn’t go to the palace, Alexandria would be fired on. If he did, he would be arrested, charged with treason, and Egypt’s fledgling struggle for self-determination would be over.
At this point the French Admiral declined to take part and took his fleet to Port Said.
At 7.30 on the morning of 11th July, the British fleet began a 10½-hour bombardment that destroyed much of Alexandria.
This is the background to Caseley and Jago’s journey to fulfil the mission with which he has been entrusted. Why is Caseley there at all? Desperate to escape home and its tragic memories, believing this is the last chance for their marriage, she overrides Jago’s objections by reminding him she speaks French - the official language of Alexandria – he doesn’t. For this at least he needs her. I have laughed, agonised, loved and wept with my characters even though I’m the one who created the situations that sweep them from happiness to disaster.
I cherish the illusion that I’m in control. The truth is that when I’m writing they aren’t ‘characters’, they are real people. I step into their world as an invisible observer. But I’m also inside their thoughts and emotions, living events with and through them. I believe I know who they are and how they will react. Then they say and do things I hadn’t anticipated, revealing unexpected aspects of their character. I might have planned the route, but suddenly they are controlling their own destiny. All I can do is hang on for the ride
‘The Master’s Wife’ Jane Jackson Accent Press ebook £2.99
Find the author on her website by clicking here
Follow on Twitter @JJacksonAuthor
My thoughts about The Master's Wife...
I read and reviewed The Consul's Daughter and thoroughly enjoyed getting to know Caseley and Jago and travelled every step of their exciting adventure with them.
In this second book in The Captain's Honour series , The Master's Wife, it is good to meet up again with these well loved characters and to see where life has taken them, and as expected their intertwined lives continue to be filled with challenges which have a devastating effect on both Caseley and Jago,
What I have enjoyed about this series, is the way that the author continually draws you into the story. And with warmth, and fine attention to detail, the characters become real in your imagination and as you become involved in their lives you can't help but become emotionally involved with them. As the story starts to evolve, it becomes noticeable that life is not always very kind to them, nor is life ever predictable, but with fortitude and their challenging love for one another, you start to hope that things may, eventually, turn out well for them.
I thought that this second book was slightly stronger than the first with this story being both sad and dramatic in equal measure. The details of the time spent in Egypt was well researched and what was of particular interest to me was reading about events in history of which I had no knowledge. I thought that the author has done a commendable job of allowing the story to evolve gradually whilst at the same time keeping all the different strands of the story together.
Whilst The Master's Wife sits very comfortably on its own merits as a stand alone story, and yet, as with any book series, I do think it's best to start at the beginning and work through the books in order. However, it is easy to pick up Caseley's and Jago's story and won't detract from the overall enjoyment if you haven't read book one.
Best Read with...salted fish and cool clear water...
My thanks to Jane for this fascinating guest post and also for sharing her novels with me.