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Thursday, 12 April 2018

Welcome Author Marilyn Pemberton!



I’m delighted to welcome author Marilyn Pemberton onto my blog today to talk about her beautifully written debut novel, The Jewel Garden.

Marilyn is one of my Monday Night writing students, and it’s been my pleasure over the last few years to hear extracts of Marilyn’s book and to follow her journey from just an idea right through to publication.

Marilyn has always worked in IT and is still a full-time project manager. However, at the age of 40 she decided she wanted to exercise the right side of her brain and so commenced a part-time BA in English literature at Warwick University. This progressed to an MA and then to a PhD on the utopian & dystopian aspects of Victorian fairy tales.

After giving a paper at a conference she was approached by a publisher who suggested she gather together some lesser known fairy tales and as a result Enchanted Ideologies: A Collection of Rediscovered Nineteenth-Century English Moral Fairy Tales was published by The True Bill Press in 2010.

During her research Marilyn “discovered” Mary De Morgan, a Victorian writer of fairy tales. She  became somewhat obsessed with De Morgan and in order to share her research she wrote Out of the Shadows: The Life and Works of Mary De Morgan, which was published by Cambridge Scholars Publishing in 2012.





Despite her intensive research there were still many gaps in her knowledge and because she just could not let De Morgan, or the act of writing, go, she decided to write a fictional novel based on De Morgan’s life - the result being The Jewel Garden.






Here’s the blurb for The Jewel Garden

It was a time when women were starting to rebel against Victorian conventions and to strive for their independence. This is a story of Hannah Russell’s physical, emotional and artistic journey from the back streets of the East End of London to the noisy souks and sandy wastes of Egypt; from the labyrinthine canals of Venice to the lonely corridors of Russell Hall in Kent. Hannah thinks she has found love with Mary De Morgan, a writer of fairy tales and one of William Morris’s circle of friends. But where there is devotion there can also be deceit and where there is hope there also dwells despair.


Enjoy this extract from The Jewel Garden by Marilyn Pemberton as Hannah sails out to Egypt from England.

The next morning I awoke early. The sun was only just rising and had not yet warmed the air, but I decided to wrap myself up well and to sit on the upper deck and to savour the birth of the day. There were already a few passengers already on deck, but I managed to find a deck chair that offered protection from the cool breeze, but provided a wonderful view out to sea.

When I first looked out I thought that there was nothing to see but the vast flat expanse of blue that stretched to infinity. But the longer I looked the more I saw: the smudge of smoke from another ship on the horizon; a flock of black cormorants skimming the surface of the ocean, coming from goodness knows where, going to goodness knows where; a single small white cloud marring the otherwise clear azure dome.

And the sea itself, not flat after all, but just like blue icing on a Christmas cake that the cook had patted with a spatula and then brushed with sugar. I imagined rather than saw the brightly coloured shoals of fish that darted hither and thither in the dark depths. The surface was suddenly, joyfully, broken by five shiny porpoises, arching in synchrony through the air. I saw them for but a few seconds, then no more and I wondered if I had imagined them.


Marilyn is a member of the Society of Women Writers & Journalists and has just won first prize in one of their short story competitions. She is also a member of the Historical Novel Society and The Society of Authors.



She is currently working on a new historical novel, set in 18th century Italy that tells of two young boys who are bought from their families, castrated and then trained to be singers. This was something that was actually done at the time, though this story is purely fictional. It follows the boys’ careers, one who becomes a successful singer and the other who does not.

I would like to thank Marilyn for being on my blog – and I can’t wait to read her next novel.

The Jewel Garden by Marilyn Pemberton, published by Williams & Whiting.

Available in print and as an ebook:

Discover more about Marilyn:  https://marilynpemberton.wixsite.com/author
Blog: writingtokeepsane.wordpress.com


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