Historical Novelist Number 15

You will notice that today I am not writing about lofts, boxes of junk or excessively heavy weights. That is probably because I am suffering from a surfeit of the same. Normal service may or may not resume when my weakened body returns to what passes for normal.

indexToday’s historical novelist is one who held the rank of ‘favourite’ for many years and I eagerly awaited each new offering. E V Thompson released at least one book every year from his first Chase the Wind, in 1977 until his death in 2012 and I have all but the final half a dozen. Most of his books are set in Cornwall, although he does make use of his experiences in Africa to move to that continent for some of his books, notably those of his most famous Retallick saga. I can’t understand how this series has been overlooked by the makers of costume dramas. My liking for these books stems more from their geographical context than their historical background, which is predominantly Victorian. The reason that I abandoned the later books is because they were becoming a little formulaic with boy choosing between rich girl and poor girl in many of them. This makes them sound like romances and I don’t think that is a fair description. Some are fast paced adventure stories with a love interest thrown in.

The setting is always clearly drawn, be it the Cornish coast, mining towns, the Bristol slums or the wilds of what was then Rhodesia and I think that this is Thompson’s strength. If you love the west country you will enjoy his Cornish novels. Apart from the long running story of the Retallick’s, which spans several generations, there are other mini series amongst Thompson’s output, such as those featuring Amos Hawke or the Jago family. I am a sucker for a saga so these appeal but I was also fascinated by The Dream Traders, which taught me about the Opium Wars, The Music Makers, set during the Irish Potato famine and Seek a New Dawn, which begins in Cornwall but moves to the copper mines of South Australia.

Another historical novelist will be pulled from the advent box tomorrow.


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