Jean Fullerton

Fall in Love with the Past

Well not him personally, I understand he’s a really nice chap, but just his books. And I’m not annoyed with him for him being a universally known author while I’m a struggling mid-list one so please let me explain my annoyance.

I’ve just come back from a week’s cruise and his books along with other old favourites like Maeve Binchy and Joanna Trollope, seem to be as numerous as sunbeds on the ship.  I’m annoyed because with so many fabulous authors out there people still seem to grab the same old thing from the airport W H Smiths before boarding their flight.

Given that most people cite ‘time to read’ as one of the things they enjoy most about relaxing on a beach they seem to give very little thought to the matter before they check in at the airport.  So as a public service to my favourite people – readers – I thought I’d give you a few of recommendations for authors you may not have discovered to pack in your suitcase.

 

holy-thiefIf you like a good thriller/murder why not try The Holy Thief by William Ryan the first of his Korplev Mysteries.

Set in 1930’s Moscow under Stalin’s oppressive and paranoid regimen we follow the fortunes of Captain Alexei Korolev a detective in the Moscow Criminal Investigation Department.  Not only is this a cracking detective story but a fabulous insight into the corrupt, blood-soaked world of communist Russia at the time.  Fabulous read and highly recommended.

 

 

If you’re after an intelligent action hero in uniform then The Scarlet Thief by Paul Fraser Collard might be for you.  The first of the Jack Lark series is set during the Crimean war anThe scarlet Theifd

features Private Jack Lark of her Majesty’s King’s Fusiliers. As Jack is a good old East End lad from the Victorian rookery of Spitalfields I was willing the story to grab me from the start and it did.    I won’t say too much as it would spoil some of the twists and turns but the book starts at a breakneck pace and continues to the end. Again good period details which don’t intrude on the action.

olive tree rollover

 

 

The Girl Under the Olive Tree by Leah Fleming. In the same vein a heart-wrenching read, which follows the fortunes of Penny Georgiou a half British and half Greek nurse. We meet her in pre-war Athens and then as she ministers to the sick in German occupied Crete.  It’s fantastically atmospheric and holds your interest on every page with a very satisfying ending.

BRAG_AURELIA-192x300

 

So far I’ve given three historical recommendations but now I’d like to throw you something of a ‘curve ball’ with my next recommendation Aurelia by Alison Morton. This is the 4th in her Roma Nova series and is set in the alternative world of Roma Nova a remnant of the Roman Empire that survived into the 20th century.  Morton does a brilliant job constructing this modern Roman society within the alternative history of the 20th century minus Hitler and a different configuration of European states. It’s a story of industrial espionage and spies with Aurelia Mitela a serving officer in the Pretorian Guards and member of one of the ruling families, as a sort of female James Bond getting into all sorts of mayhem for Empire and Family.

 

The wild oneAlthough you might be floating in the Med or laying on a beach in Spain you can travel further field; to the Australian outback in fact, with the Wild One by Janet Gover. It’s the second in her Coorah Creek series featuring the small mining town somewhere deep in Queensland. We meet photographer Rachel Quinn and park ranger Dan Mitchell both struggling with unresolved issues and heart-break in their past. As Ms Gover originates from an outback town like Coorah Creek she takes you there right down to the dry dust on your boots. Well recommended although you might want to start with Flight to Coorah Creek, the first in the series.

 

 

Lastly, I’d like to recommend Where Love Lies, by Julie Cohen. It’s a wonderfully crafted novel about Felicity and Quinn, a newly married couple and their fight through a very unusually Where-Love-Lies-pb-cover-260x406threat to their happiness. My sympathies veered between Felicity and then Quinn at the start of the book but then found myself willing them both to win through. Absolutely love the whole story and read it in two days flat but I must warn you to keep a box of tissues handy.

Have a nice holiday and enjoy.

Share this...
Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblr

Follow me on...
Facebooktwitter

 I once asked a group of twelve friends if anyone could put Richard II, Henry II and Edward II in chronological order. I’m sad to report only two managed it and one of those admitted it was a lucky guess. There ensued a discussion about history. Some said they hated it at school while other couldn’t see the relevance of learning about the Tudors, Stuarts or even the Industrial Revolution. However, when I asked them about their family’s history it was quite a different matter. One person’s grandfather served on the North Atlantic convoys, another had a father who fought at El Aleman, two had grandmothers who were evacuated and one had been a land girl.

King Edward II

King Edward II

WW2-disaster-539490 In addition one of us had lost Jewish family members during the Nazi occupation of Europe and my mother had survived the 1943 Bethnal Green Tube Disaster. Suddenly history wasn’t boring anymore. It was touchable. I believe this tangible link between our family history and the dramatic event of the last century goes a long way to explain the huge popularity of all things 20th century.
 Of course the genre of popular fiction described as sagas has long tapped into this rich vein of social history. Traditionally they dealt with the gritty side of 19th century women’s lives, with multi-character and multi-generational stories. However, in the past few years they shifted forward a hundred years and focus more on stories set in the 40s, 50s, 60s and 70s. This has caused a huge surge in popularity for the genre and such novels feature prominently in bestseller lists and supermarkets alike.  The mallin streak
foyle war  This popularity of the mid-20th century social history is also reflected in TV series such as Foyle’s War, Call the Midwife, Inspector Gently and the like. Although first and foremost entertaining dramas, their success is also linked to the undeniable truth that the dramatic tensions between protagonist and the plotlines often hinge on the period’s social history. Docudramas, too, like Cilla and Made in Dagenham also reflect the current fascination with our grandparents’ world.
 It is not just fiction of the 20th century that dominates the TV ratings but factual, too. This is evident by the hugely popular Who Do You Think You Are, Secrets of the Workhouse and Turn Back Time, a series in which volunteers live as their families would have 70 years ago. Who_Do_You_Think_You_Are-

 

 WW1 popies Although during last year’s commemoration of the outbreak of the First World War some documentaries explored the political and imperial causes of the Great War the vast majority focused on the lives of ordinary people on both sides caught up in conflict.

Add to this the thousands of people who are researching their family trees and it could be argued that the interest in all things historical has never been higher.

Of course, I accept there is a massive dollop of nostalgia in all of this but given the
uncertain times we live in perhaps it is understandable. However, maybe by exploring
20th century history through fiction, drama and their family histories people will be
better able to understand the origins of the complex world we live in today.

 

First published in the Historical Writers’ Association’s Historia magazine in 2015.

 

Share this...
Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblr

Follow me on...
Facebooktwitter

 

I thought you’d like to have a look at a Fullerton family heirloom; my mum’s 1948 wedding dress. I used it as the template for the wedding dress Millie helped Connie make in Call Nurse Millie.

 

 

mum and dads wedding 001
back details 1 Although my parents were married on the 14th August 1948, almost six months after cloth rationing ended, other than the slightly longer train, my mother’s dress is in fact a typical war-time wedding dress.
Like most brides of the period my mother, who was a machinist by trade, made her wedding dress and has only covered buttons and press studs to fasten it. front view 1
fabric detail The fabric is rayon, one of the first man-made fabrics and as the brilliant white fabric of modern wedding dresses wasn’t manufactured 65 years ago the colour was ivory although it has now faded to buttermilk.
 As you can see it is a simple design with very few details other than the small peplum at the waist and two beaded bows at the neckline.          construction detail
neck detail 1 The only other style details are the cuffs which are pointed and fastened by press studs; you can even see my mother’s original stitching on them.
   My mum was only 5 foot tall and after she had me and my brother, hovered between a 16-18 dress size. Interestingly I had to buy a size 10 stand to display the dress so perhaps those of us who want to lose weight should try a few months on war time rations! cuff 1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Share this...
Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblr

Follow me on...
Facebooktwitter

Cartoon cheiftain

I suppose like me you always wondered if there was a grain of truth in all those stories you were told as a child about your family history.  I did but now thanks to the wonder of the internet I’m happy to report that apart from a couple of little things, for the most part, what I was told about my Fullertons forbears was true.

My Nan maintained we are descended from Robert the Bruce. Now wouldn’t that be something but sad to say as far as I can tell we aren’t. However, we certainly originated from the Bruce lands in Argyll; Cambeltown to be precise on Kintyre peninsular. This is where the earliest directly linked Fullerton ancestor, Robert Fullerton come from. Although I have no actual date for his birth must have been born sometime in and around 1640 as his son, Archibald, was born in 1670. Continue reading

Share this...
Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblr

Follow me on...
Facebooktwitter

One of the things readers often comment on is the amount of nursing detail I have in my stories. I’m thrilled to hear this as I do put a great deal of time and effort into getting the procedures Millie and Connie undertake right.

Merry and Irving District Nursing

Merry and Irving District Nursing

Although I’ve been a district nurse for over 25 years you’ll appreciate that how I worked during my time on the district is very different from the limited drugs and equipment Millie and Connie had at their disposal. Continue reading

Share this...
Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblr

Follow me on...
Facebooktwitter

Dyslexia affectsOne of the main problems I had to overcoming along the road to publication was that I’m dyslexic. I’m in good company as it’s estimated that between 6 -10 % of the population have the condition. There are many well know personalities such as Richard Branson, Whoopi Goldburg and the bestselling author Katie Fforde who are dyslexic.

It’s not a problem and there is plenty of evidence that people with the condition are very creative and out-of-the-box lateral thinkers. And I say blessed because I think we are and I firmly believe I would be the writer I am without my dyslexia. Continue reading

Share this...
Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblr

Follow me on...
Facebooktwitter

Yes I confess. Although I’ve been happily married to my Hero-at-Home for 37 years I have let another man into my heart. I couldn’t help it. It seemed innocent enough at first but before I knew it I was in the middle of something beyond my control. But please don’t judge me; not until you read all the facts.

Aiden TurnerIt all started harmlessly enough in my first book No Cure for Love. Set in 1832 in Victorian East London I need a sweetheart for 13 year old Josie O’Casey and so I invented Patrick Nolan. Tall, Irish and with melt-you green eyes and a mass of curly black hair he was already half the man he would grow to be. He was honest and fearless, too. Not only did he saved Josie from the sadistic Danny Donavan but breaking free from the poverty of his birth he carved out his own way in life by signing on to a merchant ship on the open sea. Continue reading

Share this...
Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblr

Follow me on...
Facebooktwitter

I’d like to tell you about the area where I was born and write about, East London.

East London Street

East London Street

The Fullertons came to the Wapping area of East London from Rothesay in Scotland in the 1820s and my great-great-great grandmother, Elizabeth Fullerton, is shown on the 1841 census as living in Star Lane at the back of Cable Street. It was natural then when I started writing eleven years ago that I looked no further than my own backyard for inspiration. Why wouldn’t I, when East London has such a rich vein of pageant and spectacle? Add to that the river pirates, the gangs, pubs and music halls that were a feature of the teaming waterfront and there’s drama enough for any writer. Continue reading

Share this...
Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblr

Follow me on...
Facebooktwitter
Ripper Street

Ripper Street

It’s no surprise to me that the two prime slots on the BBC Sunday night schedule are both filled with stories set in the place where I was born East London. The lawless alleyways, courtyards and tenements of the area have long been a rich source of inspiration for both popular and literary fiction.

Along with his journalistic exploration of East London Dickens, accompanied by members of Scotland Yard’s newly formed CID, visited pubs, opium dens and penny gaffs. He also used East End locations in his books such as the Red Cow public house in Pickwick Papers and his most famous villain, Fagan, was supposed to have been based on an East End fence named Ikey Solomon.

Dickens wasn’t alone in finding the squalid streets east of the City rich pickings. It’s just a short stroll along the Highway to Limehouse where Fu Manchu, Max Rohmer’s dastardly and inscrutable baddie, masterminded a Chinese criminal empire. Continue reading

Share this...
Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblr

Follow me on...
Facebooktwitter