Monday 30 January 2017

My Life in Books ~ talking to author Jane Cable @JaneCable

My Life in Books is an occasional feature on Random Things Through My Letterbox
I've asked authors and people in publishing to share with us a list of the books that are important to them and have made a lasting impression on their life

I'm delighted to welcome author Jane Cable to Random Things today. Back in March 2015 I read and reviewed Jane's novel The Faerie Tree.
Here's a little taster from my review:

"The Faerie Tree was not what I was expecting at all, it far exceeded my expectations. This is high quality writing, and the author is very talented. Her characterisation is outstanding, the story is impeccably paced and very convincing.  A great novel, and one that I'd certainly recommend."
Jane's latest ebook, Another You was published in December last year. Here's a little bit about it:

"Marie Johnson is trapped by her job as a chef in a Dorset pub and by her increasingly poisonous marriage to its landlord. 

Worn down by his string of affairs she has no self-confidence, no self-respect and the only thing that keeps her going is watching her son, Jude, turn into a talented artist. 

But the 60th anniversary of a D-Day exercise triggers chance meetings which prove unlikely catalysts for change. 

First there’s Corbin, the American soldier who she runs into as she’s walking on the cliffs. He is charming and has a quaintness about him, calling her an ‘English rose’. 

Then there’s George the war veteran, who comes to dine at the pub, and his son Mark. George fascinates Marie with his first-hand accounts of the war, whilst Mark proves helpful in making sense of the pub’s financial situation. 

And there’s Paxton. Another American soldier with an uncanny resemblance to Corbin. Young, fit and very attractive, Marie finds him hard to resist. But little does she know Paxton is also battling some inner demons. 

As the heat of the summer intensifies, so do the issues in Marie’s life. 

Why is Corbin so elusive? Why is the pub struggling to make ends meet? Why has Jude suddenly become so withdrawn and unhappy? 

Can she help Paxton open up and begin to deal with his pain? 

Or will she be shackled to the pub and her increasingly spiteful husband forever? 

But as events unfold, Marie finally realises that she is not trapped, but stuck, and that it is down to her to get her life moving again. 

Perfectly blending the complexities of twenty-first century life with the dramatic history of World War Two, Another You is a charming tale that will warm your heart."

Jane Cable is a writer of romantic suspense novels. Her first, The Cheesemaker’s House, was a finalist in The Alan Titchmarsh Show’s People’s Novelist Competition and won Words for the Wounded’s Independent Novel of the Year Award. Her latest book, Another You, is published by Endeavour Press and tells the story of how chance encounters around the 60th anniversary of D-Day help downtrodden Marie to rebuild her self confidence and to find new love.

Find out more at
Follow her on Twitter @JaneCable

My Life in Books ~ Jane Cable

I grew up in a house of books. My father was an English teacher and in later life a poet and a reviewer for welsh literary journals. When my mother had time – particularly in retirement – a novel was never far from her hand.
Perhaps it was inevitable I would write. It was something I always wanted to do but I could never finish a full length manuscript until I was in my forties. It wasn’t just real life getting in the way, somehow I never had the staying power. But literary influences started from a very early age, even though you don’t realise it at the time. It’s been a fascinating journey looking back for this article, but like most of the other writers featured the hardest thing has been limiting it to ten books.

When I was a child my father read to me every Saturday and Sunday morning. I’d climb into bed next to him and we’d travel together to the worlds of his childhood in the 1930s (Jennings, Just William) and venture on more contemporary voyages of discovery (Moomins, Joan Aitken). But a firm favourite was a book of poetry, each one about a king or queen of England, in chronological order. The verses were light and memorable and to my fascination ended with King George V as the monarch at the time of publication.

There are many books I could have picked from my junior school years but this is the one which has stayed with me to adulthood. Quite literally – my Puffin paperback is falling apart from frequent use. I rarely read books more than once and was never really one for animal stories, but Adams was able to elevate rabbits to human complexities of emotion and motivation. The epilogue when Hazel leaves Watership Down for the last time is one of the most beautiful descriptive passages I’ve ever read.

As a teenager I read countless historical novels and loved the Plantagenet dynasty with a passion. This book was given to me by a lecturer friend of my father’s who doubtless thought I should be reading something with a little more substance. It’s actually a detective novel where an incapacitated policeman reviews the evidence for the murder of the princes in the tower from his twentieth century hospital bed. I loved the way the book was different – and looking back it taught me a great deal about the value of meticulous historical research.

If I could take one book to a desert island, this would be it. Delderfield had the gift of creating a landscape and peopling it with fascinating characters whose stories mixed together in the most natural way.

A difficult book, Regeneration is Barker’s fictionalised account of the treatment of Siegfried Sassoon and Wilfrid Owen for shell shock during the First World War. There was a family resonance for me as my grandfather was a neurologist who had worked in the same field in the 1920s. I found the book challenging and harrowing and it was the first time I remember reading about mental health issues. Years later an editor told me I couldn’t write about ‘that sort of thing’ but Regeneration had showed me that I could.

One of the most enjoyable and well rounded books I’ve ever read. Not quite a romance, not quite a saga, the storyline and characterisation are beautiful. If I ever reach Rosamunde Pilcher’s level of skill I’ll be a happy writer.

In terms of my writing life this book opened my eyes more than any other. I loved the way Niffenegger took the reader through the most frankly incredible experiences yet stayed grounded in the real world. It showed me just what is possible if you can make people care enough about your characters.

I struggled with Kate Mosse’s more famous novels but this shorter book held me spellbound as it shifted seamlessly between the middle ages and the 1920s. The beauty and poignancy of the narrative continues to haunt me and the language was so vivid I could smell the trees and feel the cold burn my cheeks. Quite some feat as I was reading it on holiday in the Maldives. It showed me just how good a well crafted ghost story could be and is a gold standard for me to aim for. As Kate Mosse also lives near Chichester I’ve had the pleasure of meeting her and she is a real mistress of her craft.

Cricket has always played an important part in my life and I rekindled my writing career in my forties by freelancing as a cricket journalist. I’ve read a huge number of biographies from the sport but this one is different as it charts Trescothick’s battles with depression. He was the first high profile sportsman to go public about how much he suffered and I have huge admiration for his courage.

My list wouldn’t be complete without some grown up poetry and I thought long and hard about whether the book should be one of my father’s collections. But Glyn was a friend of both my parents and on the morning my mother died I read to her from this book so it carries a very special happy memory of our final hours together. As well as being my best friend my mother was a huge supporter of my writing who always believed in me.

“All in that kitchen’s warmth, that mother’s glow,
    Was bless-ed, nothing was abandoned.”
Glyn Jones – Goodbye, What Were You?

Jane Cable ~ January 2017


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