Roos Hall, in Suffolk, is reputed to be haunted by several ghosts, among them the pale face of a small
girl peering out from the topmost gable window. In the lane which passes the house witnesses
have seen the spectre of a black carriage and horses driven by a headless coachman. Black Shuck, the
phantom dog of the East Anglian marshland, is also known to frequent this ancient road.
While the principal characters in this book are fictitious, the story is based on historical fact: scenes of
rural, social, naval and colonial life in the late 18th and early 19th centuries are combined with the story
of the Jarvis family of Beccles, Suffolk, and the lives of two orphans.
The author describes how the gentry
dealt with illegitimate offspring, and how their outlook and achievements were affected by ignorance of
their true birth. Jess, the heroine of this book, is one of a host of vivid characters who populate this
blockbuster novel. The heroics of Lord Nelson, sea battles, and the horrors of the slave trade are
contrasted against the gentility of country life in England.
When Janet T. Sawyer retired to the Westcountry after forty years in Commercial Law in the City
of London, her ambition was to use her History Degree she had gained long before at the University
of Birmingham in order to research and write historical novels. Seeing a need to improve the teaching
and understanding of British history, in this book she has wrapped real historical events within a family
story and romance.
“Its purpose,” she says, “is to inveigle you, the Reader, into appreciating features of the Agricultural
Revolution in East Anglia, Lord Nelson’s naval victories, the development of the Raj in India, and the
horrors of the Atlantic slave trade, all within the space of one useful volume. Enjoy!”
The author’s grandparents farmed at Ringsfield and later ran a dairy farm in Beccles, Suffolk. Her parents
were married at Beccles Church, where the parents of Admiral, Lord Nelson, were wed. All the
manifestations of Black Shuck in this tale werewitnessed by members of the author’s family or their
ISBN 978 184114 594 5, hardback, 236x154mm, 440 pages. Published June 2007.
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