As a book reviewer I have made contact with authors from all across the globe and feel immensely privileged to be able to share some amazing work. However, there is always something rather special when a book comes to my attention which has been written by an author in my part of the North of England. So with this in mind I have great pleasure in featuring some of those authors who are literally close to my home. Over the next few Saturdays, and hopefully beyond, I will be sharing the work of a very talented bunch of Northern authors and discovering just what being a Northerner means to them both in terms of inspiration and also in their writing.
Today I'm delighted to welcome Ian Skillicorn - publisher of Corazon Books to talk about
Northern Writer, Naomi Jacob
These days, anyone under forty-something may not have heard the name Naomi Jacob. But for most of the twentieth century it adorned the spines of books on countless shelves in libraries and homes around the country. Readers loved her tales of romance and village life, as well as her family sagas and moving historical novels.
Naomi Jacob was as fascinating as any of her fictional characters. During her long life, she was a teacher, an actor, a political activist, and a broadcaster (often appearing on BBC’s Woman’s Hour). She entertained the troops during the Second World War, and helped Jewish refugees in Italy after the conflict.
But it was as an author that Jacob was best known. Her first novel, published in 1925, became a bestseller, and over the next five decades she wrote over forty novels, as well as plays and a series of autobiographies.
Jacob was a proud Yorkshire woman born and bred, and although she spent much of her life in Italy, she never forgot her northern roots. Many of her books are set in Yorkshire, and her love and respect for its people are clear from her writing. These novels feature romances between couples who have to overcome obstacles such as differences in age or class. They are full of wit and kindness, but also describe the poverty and petty prejudices of years gone by. Jacob delights in the Yorkshire people’s dialect, words of wisdom, and their no-nonsense way of looking at the world. And she isn’t afraid to deny her readers a neat, happy ending!
Another aspect of Jacob’s identity that was very important to her, was her Jewish roots. While her mother’s family had a centuries-old connection to Ripon in Yorkshire (her grandfather was the town’s mayor twice), her paternal grandfather was a Jewish refugee from Prussia. Although she was brought up in the Church of England, Jacob was proud of her Jewish heritage. In fact, arguably her most famous novels are the seven-volume Gollantz Saga, which follows several generations of a Jewish family from nineteenth century Vienna to England after the Second World War. This gripping family saga vividly describes the historical period the family lives through, but in essence it is about the universal themes of love, the importance of family and friendship, and the unintended consequences of loyalty and ambition.
Ill-health forced Jacob to move to the gentler climate of Lake Garda in Italy, where she wrote most of her novels. A very disciplined writer, she published one or two books every year of her career. She wrote until lunchtime or early afternoon, and then sat with friends in local cafés, where she would smoke cigarettes and drink grappa, speaking fluent Italian with a Yorkshire accent.
One of the main passions behind my publishing imprint, Corazon Books, is to introduce today’s readers to authors who were once household names, and to make their stories available for a new generation. While much of Naomi Jacob’s work was set in the era in which it was written, the passing of time means these novels now take on an extra layer as, to us, they become historical fiction. Jacob has much to tell us about the human spirit, and we can find the same entertainment, comfort and escape in her novels, that meant so much to her original readers, all those decades ago.
About Corazon Books
Corazon Books publishes bestselling fiction, specialising in romantic fiction, historical fiction and family sagas, and medical fiction. I am proud to have published new editions of works by acclaimed authors such as Catherine Gaskin, Sophie King and Naomi Jacob.
Many Corazon Books titles have reached the top of the Amazon Kindle charts, including The School Run by Sophie King (Amazon Top 10 – over 100,000 copies sold to date), The Property of a Gentleman by Catherine Gaskin (Amazon Top 25) and bestsellers in a number of genre charts; including medical (The Country Doctor by Jean McConnell), nursing (the Jane Grant series) and romantic comedy (Your Place or Mine? by Sophie King).
Corazon Books also supports new writing, with exclusive publishing competitions such as The Sophie King Prize and The Write Time competition, in association with Mature Times newspaper. In 2015, Corazon Books has published work by debut novelists Sue Shepherd (Doesn’t Everyone Have a Secret?) and Cath Cole (Home from Home).
Find out more about Corazon Books on their website by clicking here
Follow on Twitter @CorazonBooks or @ian_skillicorn
Huge thanks to Ian for this fascinating post about Naomi Jacob and for all his support of Jaffareadstoo.
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