This book is in final proofread and will be released on Thursday 16th August.
It is Book 3 of the Dorset Chronicles. The first two books, A New Lease on Freedom and It Takes a Rogue, dealt very much with historical fiction in my region of the world – Dorset. They had scenes elsewhere, for instance Bristol, London, Holland.
A Simple Mistake is a little different. Over half of it still relates to events in Dorset with near disasters and dangers looming for our small group of protagonists. But the history of 1689 really demanded another dimension for that year, and 1690, is all about Ireland. James Stuart, the deposed/ abdicated king (depending on your point of view!) landed at the bottom of Ireland in March 1689 and took most of the country pretty quickly.
I say most because Ulster held out and, within Ulster, Londonderry in particular. This is a fascinating time. The city was Derry until Elizabeth I sent planters over to settle the land. Londonderry, to me, means a younger cousin to London, or perhaps a child of the English capital. The siege of Londonderry was a momentous affair and Bridget Browne, a descendant of the planters a century earlier, lived through it in my imagination, just as I would have loved to experience it. Not the hunger, the fear, the bombardment – I’m far too much of a coward and creature of comfort to enjoy such conditions – but the fellowship both of determination and pride and the excitement of holding out!
This was war and very few wars have a clear cut right on one side or another. Some do, for instance nobody could seriously argue that the Second World War was not a just war, wit the allies standing up to the evil of fascism. But the war in Ireland in 1689-90 was not one of the few. Both sides had right and both sides had wrong. Young Bridget Browne could expect to live a life without being invaded, yet she, as an intelligent woman, could see that her types had literally been “planted” upon the native Irish. She concludes that the war she experienced was not so much about Catholics against Protestants, just as perhaps many of our modern day struggles suggest Muslims against Christians. Her conclusion was that it was greed, fear and ambition behind the cruelty she witnessed.
A chunk of the middle of the book is in Ireland, dealing both with the siege of Londonderry and with fictitious adventure surrounding this period. After all, Matthew and Thomas Davenport have to have reasons to go to Ireland.
But if you like the Dorset connection, do not fret! The story returns to Dorset where there is a momentous attempt to unseat the natural order of things in the north of the county, leaving the residents reeling from bankruptcy, intrigue and disaster. And here again, the prime motivations behind Parchman and his crew are jealousy, ambition and hatred. To find out whether they succeed, you will just have to buy the book! Out on 16th August so make it a date in your diaries, settle back and enjoy the latest instalment of the Dorset Chronicles.