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Review by Suze
It's 1909 and Bea and her family have to move out of Tressillion House. Bea now has to look after her mother and sister, who aren't happy with their current status. Marriage is how she's expected to do that. Getting married is a way to achieve a better financial standing once more and there is a candidate, but does Bea actually want to tie herself to someone she doesn't love? Bea wants a career instead, she'd like to make her own success. When she discovers the White Camellia, a tearoom where the suffrage movement is coming together, she's finally found a place where she can be herself. Can she make her own plans for the future?
Sybyl has taken another huge step in life, she managed to purchase Tressillion House. It's finally hers, but what can she do with it now that she owns it? The property offers several options, but it hides plenty of secrets as well. While Sybyl doesn't want to love the house, slowly she's starting to feel at home nevertheless. Will Tressillion House change the direction of her future and what will happen when past and present finally come together?
The White Camellia is a brilliant story about two strong and capable women. Bea is creative, talented and fierce. She knows what she wants and she's willing to work hard to achieve her goals. Because of family problems life has been difficult, but she's fighting for better prospects. I immediately loved her spirit and her adventurous personality. Sybyl is a smart business woman. She knows how to get things done and she has a good head on her shoulders. She might be angry, but her good heart keeps winning it from the hatred she carries inside. I loved the development of her characters, she becomes more and more intriguing and was anxious to find out her secrets. I loved how Juliet Greenwood alternates between her two fantastic main characters, her writing is both beautiful and gripping and it kept me on the edge of my seat.
Juliet Greenwood has chosen an interesting historical period for The White Camellia. I loved the captivating way she writes about the suffrage movement and the way they come together in the lively tearoom and could easily picture the actions of the women, the fights with the police and the determination of the characters to follow their own plans and make their own choices. Juliet Greenwood effortlessly took me away to a different place and time and managed to mesmerize me from beginning to end. The research behind her stories is always incredible and I love the way she translates knowledge into stunning readable adventures that take my breath away. The White Camellia is another true gem, I loved this book with all my heart.
If you love historical fiction and like strong female main characters The White Camellia is an absolute must-read.
About Juliet Greenwood
Juliet Greenwood is published by Honno Press. Her books are set in Cornwall, London and Wales in Victorian and Edwardian times, and follow the lives of strong, independently-minded women struggling to find freedom and self-fulfillment. Her novels have reached #4 and #5 in the UK Amazon Kindle store, while ‘Eden’s Garden’ was a finalist for ‘The People’s Book Prize’. ‘We That are Left’ was completed with a Literature Wales Writers’ Bursary.
Juliet’s great grandmother worked as a nail maker in Lye Waste, near Birmingham in the Black Country, hammering nails while rocking the cradle with her foot. Juliet’s grandmother worked her way up to become a cook in a big country house. Their stories have left Juliet with a passion for history, and in particular for the experiences of women, so often overlooked or forgotten. Juliet lives in a traditional cottage in Snowdonia, in the UK, and loves gardening and walking.
‘The White Camellia’, Honno Press, September 2016
‘We That Are Left’, Honno Press, 2014
Amazon UK Kindle #4 May 2014
‘Eden’s Garden’, Honno Press, 2012
Finalist for ‘The People’s Book Prize’, May 2014
Amazon UK Kindle #5 June 2014
The Inspiration of the Cornish coast
By Juliet Greenwood
Big old houses, crumbling away on a Cornish cliff, a family feud going back over the generations, and a heroine battling against the odds …
I loved writing ‘The White Camellia’, which is set in Cornwall and London during the Edwardian period. A touch of Downton Abbey, but with the family ruined and scattered by folly and greed, and having to pick up the pieces again, while a woman who has built a fortune from nothing takes over their abandoned mansion, and is forced to face the demons in her own past. And at the middle of it all, an old goldmine with secret that will not rest …..
There’s nothing like the windswept coastline of Cornwall to set as the backdrop to a family mystery. I loved Daphne du Maurier and Agatha Christie when I was growing up, and ‘The Shell Seekers’ is still one of my favourite novels. Apart from when I lived in London, I’ve always lived very close to the sea. I love its many moods, sometimes calm, sometimes wild. I love clear, cold winter days when the sea is so smooth and blue you can’t see where the sky begins, and storms where the waves go crashing against the land.
So the Cornish coastline was the obvious choice when I began to work on the story of ‘The White Camellia’, with its passionate heroine, Sybil, who takes over the house she once hated and has to come to terms with the consequences of her past actions, and maybe, just maybe, find peace and love again. Like the sea, human beings change, which is always the fascination of writing a new story. The characters you start with inevitably become so much more as the story takes shape. This is exactly what happened to Sybil, and her love-hate relationship with crumbling Tressillion House and its ruined garden, which became so much more than the house on the cliff that was the first inspiration for the story.
Of course, stories have many inspirations. Tressillion House was inspired by a romantic old house in Devon, where I often used to go with friends. The story of the goldmine was inspired by my grandfather’s desperate bid to escape poverty in the 1920s, and the unexpected consequences of his actions that still reverberate down the generations. The seascape was inspired both by my favourite Cornish beaches, and those where I live now, in North Wales. And running through it all are the wild cliffs of North Cornwall and the exhilarating (if at times terrifying) power of the sea. I have a feeling I might have to return soon, to find more inspiration ….
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