Friday, October 11, 2019

Guest Author Day with Jane Fenwick and a Giveaway

Romance over Realism by Jane Fenwick @jane_fenwick60 #neverthetwain #historicalcrimenovels #romance #victorianwhitby
We read for different reasons. From time to time we all need a little escapism when reading but when writing historical crime a little realism can set the scene nicely. In Never the Twain April and May are forced into a situation that might seem strange to our modern eyes. Their mother dies leaving them without means of support and this leaves them at the mercy of their ‘Aunt’ Elizabeth, a self serving actress. (the theatrical masks on the cover are a nod to her) Here in the 21st century we have a social care system that although not perfect, does provide people with a safety net if things go wrong. No such cushion was available in the 1890’s and so April and May are set on a path of ruin.

There would have been very few employment options open to young girls in a harbour town such as Whitby. Those that were available would have been poorly paid and without benefits such as maternity cover, sick pay or pensions. Often work was seasonal such as herring fishing. April, the more reticent of the twins, is all for trying alternatives to entering Mrs Jensen’s brothel but May sees the dangers of two young women trying to go it alone. Women in the 19th century had few rights and without the protection of a man, be it father, husband or brother, they would be easy prey to the crooks. If they failed to earn enough as shop workers to keep a roof over their heads they would inevitably enter the poverty trap and that was to be avoided at all costs.

In Victorian times poverty meant fending off diseases and malnutrition, continuous hunger and poor living conditions. It also meant not having a voice, a vote or legal protection. April and May were educated but would have found it hard to secure work, especially work that kept them in comfort. Gutting fish or sewing sails would have been beneath them and would have barely paid them enough to keep body and soul alive. Young women in Victorian Whitby would have worked in some capacity or other since childhood and at around the age of twelve they would be expected to add the family’s coffers as adults.

May sees a slippery slide into poverty with only the workhouse to fall back on. She fears living hand to mouth in a hovel; May was right to worry about what their living conditions might be like. In all possibility they would be sharing their space with mice, lice, fleas and bedbugs. Living conditions in Whitby would have been poor but at least their water supply was better than in most places as Whitby was served by several fresh water springs; hence the growth of tourism with people visiting to take the spa waters. Nevertheless their circumstances would have been lowered. May’s idea to enter the brothel temporarily seemed the better option to her and eventually she convinces her sister.

In the 19th century uneducated women had few employment options to choose from. In Whitby most women would have been involved in the fishing industry in one way or another. Gutting fish was back breaking, cold work and poorly paid. Sewing sails or rope making was marginally better as it was usually done indoors but both occupations were hard on the fingers and as equal pay was light years ahead they would be paid less than the men they laboured alongside.

Women without a male bread winner struggled to survive, especially if they had children to support. The prospect of being widowed early was an expected part of being married to a fisherman yet there were no state benefits to fall back on if the worst happened and a husband was lost at sea. Without a man’s wage for support his wife and family would often find life hard; even respectable women sometimes resorted to prostitution to put food in their children’s mouths. May convinced April that this life of deprivation was what awaited them if they tried to find work for themselves.

Until their mother’s death the twins had lived relatively easy lives at a coaching inn. Elizabeth saw they had been spoiled and were not fit for the workplace. Her solution was a harsh one but perhaps she was a realist and saw that two beautiful young girls would be easy prey to the unscrupulous. At best they would have had to sell what few possessions they had and most likely would have taken to gin to numb the reality of their terrible lives, lives that would have been considerably shortened if they couldn’t earn enough money to live independently. Women living alone at this time were frowned upon. This alone was enough to condemn them. They would be viewed with suspicion so they were damned before they started!

After their escape from the brothel both girls were relieved yet April still fears for their future. She sees Edward as someone who can provide them with the means to secure respectable work as governesses or companions. She sees she is still a slave but of a different sort. May has more romantic ideals. Making a good marriage was important for the middle and upper classes at this time and May rightly sees that they can move into a higher society if one of them marries well. Marriage of course did not give women more rights, in fact it possibly gave them less as they were passed on as ‘chattel’ from their father’s care to that of their husbands. Spinsters didn’t fare any better - they were pitied and viewed as a burden to their families, only fit to look after children or go about giving alms to the poor. For the sake of the story April’s wishes had to be overturned; it would have been a short story had they managed to become governesses’ and lived happily ever after!

Never the Twain: A twin tale of jealousy and betrayal, love and murder.

The year is 1890. The port of Whitby is heaving with sailors and where there are sailors there are brothels doing a roaring trade. Beautiful identical twins April and May are in desperate straits. They have been abandoned by their actress mother and are about to have their virginity auctioned off to the highest bidder by a notorious brothel madam.

Their fate is hanging in the balance when Captain Edward Driscoll a handsome, wealthy shipping tycoon from Glasgow saves them before they can be deflowered.

But have they exchanged one form of slavery for another?

April, reluctantly swept up in her twin’s secrets and lies unwittingly becomes embroiled in a murderous conspiracy. Is May’s jealousy stronger than the twin bond which has always connected them?

Available from:
Amazon UK:
Amazon US:

Never the Twain: A dark blend of Gothic romance and murder.

Jane Fenwick lives in the market town of Settle in Yorkshire, England. She studied education at Sheffield University gaining a B.Ed (Hons) in 1989 and going on to teach primary age range children. Jane decided to try her hand at penning a novel rather than writing school reports as she has always been an avid reader, especially enjoying historical and crime fiction. She decided to combine her love of both genres to write her first historical crime novel Never the Twain. Jane has always been a lover of antiques, particularly art nouveau and art deco ceramics and turned this hobby into a business opening an antiques and collectables shop in Settle. However her time as a dealer was short lived; she spent far too much time in the sale rooms buying items that ended up in her home rather than the shop! Animal welfare is a cause close to Jane’s heart and she has been vegetarian since the age of fourteen. For the last twenty years she has been trustee of an animal charity which rescues and rehomes cats, dogs and all manner of creatures looking for a forever home. Of course several of these have been “adopted” by Jane!

Jane has always loved the sea and although she lives in the Yorkshire Dales she is particularly drawn to the North East coast of Yorkshire and Northumberland. This coastline is where she gets her inspiration for the historical crime and romance novels she writes. She can imagine how the North East ports would have looked long ago with a forest of tall - masted ships crammed together in the harbours, the bustling streets congested with sailors, whalers, chandlers and sail makers. These imaginings provide the backdrop and inspire her to create the central characters and themes of her novels. As she has always loved history she finds the research particularly satisfying.

When she isn’t walking on Sandsend beach with her dog Scout, a Patterdale “Terrorist” she is to be found in her favourite coffee shop gazing out to sea and dreaming up her next plot. Jane is currently writing a historical saga series again set on the North East coast beginning in 1765. The first two books are being edited at the moment; My Constant Lady and The Turning Tides. Look out for My Constant Lady in 2020.

Find her on Twitter , Instagram , Facebook , Pinterest or Web.


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