GOOD MORNING, ALL. This month, in place of my usual column, is an interview with author Jane Davis. Her new novel, At the Stroke of Nine O'clock, will be published as an e-book mid-July and is available now for pre-order.
What’s the story behind your latest book?
The short answer is that At the Stroke of Nine O’Clock is a timeless tale of sex, class and murder.
The slightly longer version involves what may have been coincidence, or simply an indication of the times. What happened was this: I read three biographies back to back, and in each the subject had a connection with Ruth Ellis, the last woman to be hanged in Great Britain. I turned to my bookshelves for a yellowed paperback that has been in my possession for over thirty years. Ruth Ellis: A Case of Diminished Responsibility? I’d forgotten that the book begins with a foreword by co-authors Laurence Marks and Tony Van Den Bergh in which they reveal how, during their research, they both discovered that they had various links to players in the story of Ruth Ellis, if not Ellis herself. One of David Blakely’s other lovers. The partner of a psychiatrist who had treated Ruth Ellis. The brother of the manageress of the Steering Wheel club who had thrown Blakely and Ellis out for having a drunken fight on the premises just days before the shooting. The Catholic priest who, while serving as a prison chaplain sat on the Home Office committee tasked with deciding if Ellis was fit to hang. The list goes on.
But even those who had never met Ellis had an opinion about her, and all were affected by her demise.
Work-wise, there were few options for women, particularly working class and upper class women. Having stepped up to the challenge of the running industry and keeping the economy afloat once again during the Second World War, women were gain expected to hand their jobs back to the men and get back in their kitchens.
Rather than tell the story in Ruth’s voice, I wanted to show how much she had in common with many women of her day. That’s why I chose to tell Ruth’s story through the lives of three very different women, all of whom have experiences that in some way mirror Ruth’s, so that by the end of the book, each has a reason to say, ‘There but for the grace of God go I.’ I hope that’s also the reaction most readers will have. With social changes, the removal of many of the taboos and barriers Ruth faced would have made the lies she told unnecessary. I like to think that Ruths living today won’t be driven to the same point of despair. Help would be available.
Like most working-class daughters, Caroline Wilby is expected to help support her family. Alone in a strange city, she must grab any opportunity that comes her way. Even if that means putting herself in danger.
Star of the silver screen, Ursula Delancy, has just been abandoned by the man she left her husband for. Already hounded by the press, it won’t be long before she’s making headlines for all the wrong reasons.
Patrice Hawtree was once the most photographed debutante of her generation. Now childless and trapped in a loveless marriage, her plans to secure the future of her ancient family home are about to be jeopardised by her husband's gambling addiction.
Each believes she has already lost in life, not knowing how far she still has to fall.
Six years later, one cause will unite them: when a young woman commits a crime of passion and is condemned to hang, remaining silent isn’t an option.
“Why do I feel an affinity with Ruth Ellis? I know how certain facts can be presented in such a way that there is no way to defend yourself. Not without hurting those you love.”
Find Jane @
Hailed by The Bookseller as ‘One to Watch’, Jane Davis is the author of nine thought-provoking novels.
Her debut, Half-truths & White Lies, won the Daily Mail First Novel Award 2008. Of her subsequent three novels, Compulsion Reads wrote, ‘Davis is a phenomenal writer, whose ability to create well-rounded characters that are easy to relate to feels effortless’. Her 2015 novel, An Unknown Woman, was Writing Magazine’s Self-published Book of the Year 2016 and has been shortlisted for two further awards. Smash all the Windows was the inaugural winner of the Selfies (best independently-published work of fiction) award 2019.
Jane lives in Carshalton, Surrey with her Formula 1 obsessed, star-gazing, beer-brewing partner, surrounded by growing piles of paperbacks, CDs and general chaos. When she isn’t writing, you may spot her disappearing up a mountain with a camera in hand. Her favourite description of fiction is ‘made-up truth’.
Please drop your comments you in the box below. (Comments are moderated, so they won't appear immediately! Your email address won't appear at all. 💚)
Please share today's column and thank you so much for reading, I appreciate it MASSIVELY. To get THIS FUNNY IRISH LIFE FREE via email every month, go to the Follow by Email box at the top right of the page. Your email address will NEVER be shared or misused.
To find out more about me, click on the links/information at the sidebar on the right.