The Dandelion Clock

The war to end all wars – the wish to end all wishes.

The idea for my present work in progress came from sorting through some old photos I found when I moved house.

They are of my grandparents. Florrie’s family has already been  the subject of an historical series, FOR THEIR COUNTRY’S GOOD, when I discovered her great uncle killed one of Lord Northampton’s gamekeepers and was transported to Van Diemen’s Land in 1841.

Book One – On Different Shores can be seen at On Different Shores

This time, I turned my attention to my grandfather, Bill, who was the love of my young life. He had a way of telling stories with his hands, and he used to describe the vast deserts of Egypt in 1914-18 with a slow sweep of a broad paw. It grieves me that I can’t remember the tales he told, but the spirit of them lives on as does his love of horses, a passion he passed to me.

Research turned up war service records, more photographs and, although the facts are sketchy, much paperwork having been destroyed after the war for security reasons, I have pieced togather enough for a story. It may not be his story, exactly, but it’s a story of any of the young men who left their homes and their sweethearts to fight a war about which they knew nothing and which was, in many places, commanded by men who had military and social seniority but little practical, tactical battle experience.

This is the scenario into which our young men went and the research I’ve undertaken has brought me to tears at the waste of young lives. Many died due to the mistakes made by incompetent generals, and many more to disease, and those who survived and came home found that they and England had changed. They didn’t want the same things they’d craved before they went to war, and many were disillusioned with the England they’d fought for and many had died for.

Gallipoli, Cholocate Hill, Jerusalem, Marne, Ypres, Loos, Somme, Paschendaele: they are names that evoke a sorrowful and morbid fascination, a horror of the waste of the flower of England’s youth – a war to end all wars. But nothing was really settled, and the wounds of war festered and still fester, politically as well as physically.

There are no winners in war and if you ask most ordinary people, the ones who were called upon to lay down their lives, or live with the grief of the loss of their loved ones, they would make a wish to end all wishes – an end to war.

two proposed covers for The Dandelion Clock
Royal Buckinghamshire Hussars 1914

 

The Dandelion Clock will be released in November 2018 to commemorate the centenary of the end of WW1.

Other books by Rebecca Bryn

six book with QR code tweet and book fair.jpg

Independent Author Support and Discussion Page

The Silence of the Stones

Touching the Wire

Where Hope Dares

On Different Shores

Beneath Strange Stars

On Common Ground

 

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FOR THEIR COUNTRY’S GOOD SERIES Saying goodbye

FTCG coomp maybe our love is not meant to beWhen I began the epic tale of Ella and Jem, I imagined one novel, a journey into my family history to discover the truth of family stories. Did I have relations in Tasmania who owned a shipping line? Did one of my forebears kill a gamekeeper and get transported to the colonies? It was a question that fascinated me throughout my childhood, but it wasn’t  until the advent of the world wide web that finding the information became possible.

I still haven’t found any rich relations, but Jem Weston, (real name James Underwood), was a real person, my great-great-great uncle, and he did indeed kill Joe Upton (real name John Dunkley), one of Lord Northampton’s gamekeepers. The research into the truth of the matter has formed the bones of this historical series and has taken me from the rural villages of Northamptonshire, in Victorian England, to the convict stations of Van Diemen’s Land and the goldfields of New South Wales, via the Cape of Good Hope, Cape Horn, and Drake Passage on convict sailing ships and over the Blue Mountains on a hay cart.

It has been a fascinating journey, and I immersed myself in the world of the convicts and their families for almost two years. Jem and Ella have become more than fictional characters or long-dead relations, they’ve become friends, and saying goodbye to them as I wrote ‘The End’ to ‘On Common Ground’ was almost as painful as I imagine Jem’s farewell to his family and loved ones was in 1841.

I didn’t intend to write a novel where one of the main themes was the lack of women’s rights in England in the 19th century, but Ella’s lack of rights over her life, her children, and her body became inescapable, integral parts of the story. The mass of historical records available astounded me. To see newspaper reports of the committal hearing and the trial, the handwritten records of Jem’s time aboard a prison hulk in Plymouth dock, on board HMS Tortoise, and later at Impression Bay Convict Station was moving and connected me across time and oceans to a man I’ve never met but who I now feel I know intimately. To see the birth, marriage and death records, to find the exact location where he is buried and see photographs of his resting place – it’s a strange feeling and has resolved a long-held question – am I, as my mother once told me, related to a bunch of loose-knickered, murdering thieves? It seems I’m guilty as charged.

Links for ‘For Their Country’s Good’

http://mybook.to/OnDifferentShores

http://mybook.to/BeneathStrangeStars

http://mybook.to/OnCommonGround