Bookseller Review

Bookseller reviewPretty chuffed to be the Historical Fiction choice of Caroline Sanderson in the Independent Author Preview section of the June edition of The Bookseller.

I would take issue on one point – I did not suggest that the outcome of the Battle of Waterloo was different – Napoleon did lose – but everything that happened after July 15 (in A Set of Lies) is certainly not as it is accepted to have been.

The End of June 2015

We’re half way through the year – the nights are drawing in and next Christmas is nearer than last.
It is also:
1 year since Skye Lacey (in A Set of Lies) is about to leave The Lodge, the home she has lived in since she was a baby.
3 years since Colin and I moved to the Isle of Wight (and we’re still here!)
7 years since Runaways (my third book and the last of The Iniquities Trilogy) was published
9 years since my first book The Last Dance (the first part of The Iniquities Trilogy) was published
20 years since Anya, in Highly Unsuitable Girl, discovers she is unable to have children and 47 years since the court case as she fights to gains custody of her dead husband’s children
37 years since, in Her Parents’ Daughter, Jane begins work in a dead-end Council job after leaving the psychiatric hospital where she had spent more than 18 months
39 years since, in Walking Alone (the second part of The Iniquities Trilogy) Holly and Carl went for a walk along the Thames at Dorchester while Oliver and Crispin try to recover from their hangovers.
67 years since the girl given the name Monika Heller is met by Ted Mottram at Lime Street Station, Liverpool in The Last Dance
105 years since my father, Tom Banks, was born (frightening to think that was nearer the beginning of A Set of Lies than the end)
AND 200 years since Napoleon Bonaparte (in reality and in A Set of Lies) is weighing up his options as he tries to escape the Prussians and the Bourbons who want him dead.

23 June 1815

Emmanuel, Compt de Las CasasTwo hundred years ago, 23 June 1815, was Napoleon Bonaparte’s first day after his abdication (optimistically in favour of his son the King of Rome).

A great many people, including the Bourbon royal families of Europe and the Prussians, wanted him dead.

He gathered his entourage around him (including Emmanuel, Comte de Las Casas, an Anglophile) with a view to making his escape to America.

Read in A Set of Lies how British spy Bernard Lacey had planned, over a period of 13 years, for the moment of Bonaparte’s defeat and how his scheme was about to come to fruition…..


A year ago today


In A Set of Lies, on June 19th 2014, it is now nearly two weeks into Skye, Fergal and Carl’s quest. They have discovered the clues they didn’t know they were looking for and they have found Sir Bernard Lacey’s diaries. But they can’t read them.

Sir Bernard was a spy. He wouldn’t write sensitive information in plain text would he?

An old friend of Carl’s has arrived on the island and a year ago today she was in the process of decoding many pages of code. But time is running out…..

Anniversary? What anniversary?

Castelreagh McCartney First: Happy Birthday for 18 June to Sir Paul McCartney – a 73rd anniversary to savour.

Also born on June 18 (173 years earlier in 1769) was Viscount Castlereagh. He was British Foreign Secretary in 1815 and instrumental in what happened to Napoleon after his surrender to the British on July 15 1815.

Second: in A Set of Lies Bernard Lacey is in Paris finalising the arrangements for his plan and Ennor Jolliffe is on the Isle of Wight (under the protection of Lady Frances Frensham) in the final preparations before playing the part of his life.

Meanwhile: just south of Brussels, Napoleon Bonaparte prepared to fight the battle he was very confident of winning…..



The last days of Power and Freedom

LignyNapoleon, having escaped Elba, re-established himself as Emperor and raised a vast (if largely untried) army, was facing the combined forces of Austria, Prussia, Russia and the United Kingdom who threatened to invade France. On the basis that attack is the best form of defence Napoleon sought to defeat the Prussians and the British before the armies could link up and on 15th June 1815, by clever use of misinformation, established his position between those two armies in what is now southern Belgium.

On Friday 16th June 1815 two of the main protagonists of the more famous battle which was to follow two days later faced each other in the Battle of Ligny.

Field Marshal Blücher, commanding the Prussian army (84,000 strong), was facing up to the Armée du Nord (68,000 men) under the command of Napoleon Bonaparte. 24,000 men were killed or wounded.

The Duke of Wellington had been caught unprepared as he was, famously, attending the Duchess of Richmond’s ball in Brussels when he was told of the proximity of the French. He engaged a smaller French army at Quatre Bras. 9,000 men were killed or wounded.

Two days later, Sunday 18th June, the French fought the British under Wellington and, against all odds, Blücher’s battered Prussian army arrived on the field of Waterloo just in time to turn the tide of battle against Napoleon. 65,000 men were killed or wounded.

History records that these mid-June days two hundred years ago were the last days of Napoleon’s power and freedom.

But perhaps what history records of the events after June 18, 1815 is all A Set of Lies.


This week last year in A Set of Lies

LibraryA lot was happening in Yarmouth this week a year ago.

On Wednesday 4th June Skye Lacey met her father and was told that she was to leave The Lodge, her home on the Isle of Wight which held so many secrets.

On Thursday 5th June she had a phone call from Fergal Shepherd, a man who worked for her father, and reluctantly accepted that he had to visit The Lodge to make an inventory.

On Friday 6th June Skye met Fergal for supper at The George in Yarmouth and decided she had to trust him.

On Saturday 7th June she shows him what she has found and he shares her suspicions. After an urgent phone call Carl Witherby arrives on the island and the quest begins.

On Sunday 8th June, after one day, Fergal returns to the mainland and Skye and Carl try to work together. Skye does not want to spend the time working through all the books in the library.

On Monday 9th June, after another tiresome day for Skye though fascinating for Carl, Fergal returns to the island and progress is reviewed.

They have only until the end of the month before Skye has to leave The Lodge…….