The Tyneside Sagas and The Great War Sagas

Spanning seventy years of turbulent Tyneside history, the five books in The Great War Sagas are: The Suffragette/No Greater Love, and A Crimson Dawn, and The Tyneside Sagas are: A Handful Of Stars, Chasing The Dream, and For Love And Glory.

Emily Davison’s grave in Morpeth, Northumberland

Emily Davison, the suffragette from Morpeth Northumberland,who threw herself under the King’s horse at the Epsom Derby in 1913, was the inspiration for this gritty, fast paced novel.

Heartbreakingly moving at times, this is a passionate story of a stubborn, self-willed woman’s battle for personal freedom.

Very often the suffragette movement is associated only with London but there were many brave women in the North who got involved in the fight for the vote and this novel is a tribute to them.

My own family has links with the women’s emancipation movement. My great aunts were suffragists and my great grandmother (also called Janet!) once rushed up to Winston Churchill in Edinburgh and shouted “Votes for Women Mr Churchill!”

The Suffragette is available in paperback and in e-book editions for Kindle (from Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com), and e-Reader

Feedback from readers & reviewers:

This is no romanticised picture of the suffragettes, but a harshly realistic view of their lives and treatment and also of the ambivalence of some of their members. It brings a time and place vividly to life and makes compulsive reading.” – Northern Echo

Yanks at the heartstrings with characters you really care about … Janet MacLeod Trotter is well equipped to join Catherine Cookson on the North East writers’ role of honour. Janet MacLeod Trotter’s third novel on the hardship of First World War Tyneside oozes poverty, grime and sadness, but is written in a style that screams READ ME. The dialogue is sharp and the prose well chiselled.” – Sunderland Echo

Not to be put down until the last page is turned.” – The Morpeth Herald

The book is full of period and local detail, real life drama in the stories of the suffragette movement and the First World War, human dramas ranging from treachery, cruelty, infidelity and illegitimacy to a spot of lesbianism…The result is a well-researched, highly readable and efficiently written drama with no shortage of dramatic incident. The most successful part of the novel is probably the account of Maggie’s imprisonment…at this point the author’s careful research and obvious abhorrence of the force feeding inflicted on hunger strikers combine to produce a traumatic but compelling and utterly convincing chapter.” – Northern Review

A heart-rending North-Eastern saga from the younger generation’s answer to Catherine Cookson…Don’t miss this chance to discover this brilliant storyteller – you’ll be hooked!” – World Books

Trotter recreates the grit, hardship and struggle of an under-class, and clearly pictures the pride, hypocrisy and also genuine humanity of this era. The Suffragette is a moving picture of a young life devastated by outside influences.” – Bradford Telegraph and Argus

…the saga tells the heartbreaking, moving and passionate story of a stubborn, self- willed woman’s battle for personal freedom.” – Jersey Evening Post

…this is Trotter’s third saga novel and, as usual, is invested with the warmth of her storytelling style.” – Teesside Evening Gazette

I read it in two days even going without my lunch it was beautifully written and a great pleasure to read, I felt as if I was there with Maggie in prison it was horrific how they were force-fed thank goodness I always vote, as it was through their sacrifice that I am able to, many congratulations and I am now going out to find another of your books to read.”

This book is the best I ever read because I learnt and read about them at school in history – about votes for women, so I was interested. When I got my copy of your novel the suffragette I read it right away. This one was wonderful – very moving and a strong atmosphere – I couldn’t put it down till the end. It was excellent – one of the best books.”

The book was wonderful – couldn’t put it down and read it all in one go! Each of your books seems better than the last. I have a complaint – it cost me a fortune in hankies!

It strikes me as even more powerful than your two earlier novels. How greatly I admire your insight into human beings and your compassion.”

I’m very sleepy today as I stayed up till 4am reading The Suffragette – I couldn’t put it down – a wonderful book. I cried at the end. Is there going to be a sequel?”

We all enjoyed reading your book The Suffragette. My daughter’s comment was ‘couldn’t put it down – what an education’. My granddaughter said she never knew anything about that part of history, she was never taught anything about the bravery of those women who we have to thank for all the freedom we have now.

Have enjoyed every minute of it… One woman came up to me at the Detroit (Highland) Games and said she was three-quarters of the way through the book and could hardly put it down. She had truly enjoyed it.”

The Suffragette is very popular at Brandon library!” – Brandon library, Durham.

You held my interest from beginning to end so that I felt I had to keep on reading. I felt quite bereft when I had finished it and eagerly look forward to your next book.”

…thought I should write and congratulate you on another cracking good story. It’s great to see you doing so well and I’m looking forward to your next book. When I bought the book I mentioned it to a friend at work and subsequently lent her The Hungry Hills which she returned 2 days later having devoured and thoroughly enjoyed.”

The Suffragette is available in paperback and in e-book editions for Kindle (from Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com), and e-Reader

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A Crimson Dawn

Emmie Kelso is only nine years old when she’s rescued from a dingy Gateshead tenement. Sent to Crawdene, a mining village on the fell, she’s taken into the vibrant, loving household of the MacRaes and brought up as one of their own. Blossoming into an intelligent and spirited young woman, Emmie is soon swept off her feet by handsome miner Tom Curran.

But it’s only after their wedding that she learns of his possessive, violent nature.

As war engulfs Europe in 1914, the community divides. Tom enlists and despite his disapproval, Emmie joins the MacRaes, among others, in their cries for peace. Working with those opposed to the war, Emmie finds herself alongside Rab, the MacRaes’ eldest son and a conscientious objector, and their childhood devotion to each other sparks into a love too strong to hide.

As the war worsens, the atmosphere grows ever more tense. Women hand out white feathers to those refusing to defend their country and Rab, arrested as a ‘conchie’, faces the ultimate penalty. And when a brutalised, war-weary Tom returns home, there’s trouble ahead.

The war may be drawing to an end, but Emmie’s fight for happiness is only just beginning ….

A Crimson Dawn is available in paperback and in e-book editions for Kindle (from Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com), and e-Reader

Feedback from readers and reviewers:

It’s another action-packed, emotionally-charged page-turner from the Morpeth author.” – Newcastle Journal

Another cracking tale from the author of the trilogy based on the life of Catherine Cookson.” [4 star rating] – Sunderland Echo

Dramatic, powerful story of love and war.” [5 star rating] – Bournemouth Daily Echo

It’s a brilliant book. There’s plenty of hatred and violence by Emmie’s husband that made me feel taut and gutted – it was chilling reading. I loved the characters of Emmie and Rab, they are marvellous. When I finished the book I felt numb – it was a superb story – well done Janet!”

I have just finished reading A Crimson Dawn from the Home Library. I just felt I had to tell you how much I enjoyed it. I thought it was the best you have written. I have enjoyed reading all your books, but this I felt surpassed the others, in my opinion. Hope to read many more.”

I particularly liked when it got to the second half where the war started. It was also nice to read a different perspective of the war in as much it was about being a conchie and made it more of a different story than the usual sagas. I like to read about the early years pre w w 1 the 20’s and 30’s more than the second world war as everyone seems to pick this to write about in sagas and while I still read them I have found I prefer the in-between years. I also think your research must be more thorough than most as well. I am already looking forward to your next book I hate getting to the end of a good book it’s like getting to the end of a lollipop.

Hi, Just seen on the Internet that you have a new book coming out soon. I do so love your books as I now live in Australia, reading books about the North East, is like coming home on holiday. Thank you so much.

A Crimson Dawn is available in paperback and in e-book editions for Kindle (from Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com), and e-Reader

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A Handful of Stars

It’s 1931 and the Depression has brought Tyneside to it’s knees. Businesses are struggling all over and the Magees’ fancy-goods shop is no exception. Seventeen-year-old Clara Magee is devastated when her father commits suicide. It’s bad enough he’s left his wife Patience and the family with nothing; they hadn’t expected to inherit his secret gambling debts.

Facing ruin, the Magees are forced to sell their business to a German couple whom Patience resents. Despite her mother’s disapproval, Clara befriends their daughter Reenie and hot-headed son Benny. Patience Magee thinks old family friend Vinnie Craven would make far better company for her daughter, and Vinnie’s admiration of Clara is obvious to all.

Yet her heart lies elsewhere – with Reenie and Benny’s dashing elder brother Frank.

When Frank leaves abruptly for Germany, a disappointed Clara tries to dismiss her feelings for him. Increasingly flattered by Vinnie’s single-minded attention, she eventually accepts his proposal of marriage. But Clara hadn’t bargained for Vinnie’s violent temper and his growing fascination with Mosley’s Fascist party.

As darkness gathers in Europe, Clara discovers more evidence of her husband’s disturbing political views. But the greatest shock is still to come.

A Handful of Stars is available in paperback and in e-book editions for Kindle (from Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com), and e-Reader

Feedback from readers and reviewers:

A vivid and compelling read.” – Derby Evening Telegraph

An enjoyable read giving a vivid picture of the Depression years” – Bradford Telegraph and Argus

Weaving vivid history with a heart-breaking love story, A Handful of Stars, is an outstanding depiction of the tensions and turbulence of life in the 1930s. Janet is often compared to Catherine Cookson, but she is a true original – and an author you’ll take straight to your heart after just one chapter!” – World Books

MacLeod Trotter writes with confidence and conviction, weaving together a panorama of inter-connected incidents, all charged with feeling and emotion. It’s another good read and it proceeds to a dramatic climax.” – The Newcastle Journal

It’s a brilliant book – I was on the edge of my seat at the end. It was heart pounding, shocking, surprising and an excellent twist – fantastic reading. You must read it now.”

I thoroughly enjoyed reading A Handful of Stars and, just like your other sagas, it was one book which I couldn’t put down. I’ve been a huge fan of yours for years and your books just keep on getting better and better.”

I really enjoy your books, you are just what I have been looking for since the passing of Catherine Cookson. Thank you so much, may there be many more books to come.”

I always think your latest book is your best but I really think this is an absolute winner. You deserve really good reviews for this book it was Brilliant. Thank you Janet for a great read.

A Handful of Stars is available in paperback and in e-book editions for Kindle (from Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com), and e-Reader

 

Also available in translation …

French  A Handful of Stars - French cover

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Chasing The Dream

Spanning two generations from the 1920’s to the 1950’s, it is a vivid portrayal of South-East Northumberland and of Tyneside. Set against the tough backdrop of a mining town, there is both hardship and glamour, as Chasing the Dream explores the region’s passion for football.

Millie, haunted by childhood poverty and eviction, sees security and happiness in the form of handsome but wayward Dan Nixon. Dan pursues his own dream of playing professional football as a means of escaping the hardship and dangers of the mines and for a while it seems their dreams will come true. But tragedy strikes and a terrible, long-kept secret is exposed which test Millie’s fortitude and dreams to the limit.

Passionate and dramatic, Chasing the Dream is a compelling story about the cost of ambition and the sacrifices we make for love.

This novel is about the survival of the human spirit despite all that fate throws at us. When Millie’s dreams begin to unravel, it is her strength of character and her deep compassion that count. The football theme was inspired by a walk down Northumberland Street in Newcastle and passing the statue of United’s legendary striker Jackie Milburn.

With my family, I’ve followed Newcastle United to Wembley in recent years, but have yet to see them repeat the triumphs of Milburn and his team-mates in the 50’s. We’re still chasing that particular dream!

 Chasing The Dream is available in e-book editions for Kindle (from Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com) and e-reader

Publication of the new paperback edition is scheduled for the winter of 2012

Feedback from readers and reviewers:

Janet’s picture of life in a North-East pit village between the wars springs from the canvas. It’s spot on! Her characters are caught in the twists and turns of a lively plot. The story gallops along and keeps you guessing right to the end. Tales of war heroism and lies spice up a compelling novel.” – The Sunderland Echo

This is the first time I have read any of your publications, and I loved the book. I felt every pain, that your main character “Millie” went through. I just felt I had to thank you for taking me on a beautiful journey, please keep up the good work, you are a very talented lady.”

I found it not easy to put down. A masterly achievement! Thank you so much and may you keep up this standard!”

Congratulations on a really entertaining, page-turning novel! Chasing the Dream got me totally immersed in a different world and you’ve given the football background just enough importance to balance and carry the rest of the action. It’s a wonderfully original flavour for a saga – well done!”

I must congratulate you. I have just read your fine and moving novel which so marvellously re-creates the atmosphere of the Tyneside where I was brought up and educated in the twenties and thirties. The Geordie characters are portrayed with genuine insight and understanding and beautifully brought to life. Moreover your feeling for human relationships has the right sort of ring. A fine piece of work and a most enjoyable read.

Chasing The Dream is available in e-book editions for Kindle (from Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com) and e-reader

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For Love and Glory

Tom-boy, Jo Elliot grows up on Tyneside in the 1960’s with her widowed father and older brother Colin and his friends. She has a special bond with the lively but rebellious Mark Duggan who is rejected by his father and ignored by his hostile brother Gordon, to whom he can never measure up.

Mark longs for acceptance, but it is mature and masculine Gordon for whom Jo falls dangerously in love. Tragedy unfolds that leaves Jo outcast from her old friends. As she tries to rebuild her life, war breaks out in the Falklands and both Colin and Mark are called up to fight before she can make her peace.

As terrible family secrets come to light that have blighted the two families for years, Jo realises she must act to stop tragedy ruining the future. “Emotional, entertaining and utterly engrossing, this magnificent saga explores the depths of love and undying loyalty.”

The novel is set in Wallsend on the River Tyne from where my husband’s family come from. I’m indebted to them for background information on this vibrant community where many of the world’s greatest ships were built.

The Falklands material was inspired by veterans I’d read about and one whom I knew personally – ordinary people who’d shown extraordinary courage – long after the short war was over and out of the news. This novel wrung every emotion possible out of me as I wrote it – I hope it might move you, the reader, too.”

A new edition of For Love and Glory was released on 2nd April 2012 to coincide with the 30th anniversary of the start of the Falklands war. It is available in paperback and in ebook editions in Kindle (Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com) and other e-Reader formats.

Feedback from readers and reviewers:

A good read.”  – Shields Gazette

Four stars – Very good.” – Peterborough Evening Gazette

I am not a ‘big’ reader and like books that immediately grab me and then keep my attention. ‘For Love and Glory’ is one of those books. I found it gripping and emotional and in fact as I finished it (in bed this morning) there were tears rolling down my cheeks. My wife walked in and took one look at me and said ‘that’s not like you. It must be a very good book’ – It is. Thanks again – and keep on writing.”

I have just spent a sleepless night because I couldn’t put your book ‘For Love and Glory’ down. It is fantastic!

“Ever since reading For Love and Glory I have intended writing to you. I just wanted to let you know I thoroughly enjoyed your book. Clearly a lot of research went into it, the story was well constructed and, of course, the writing as sensitive as ever. I was totally absorbed to the very end. My congratulations.”

Wonderful! You tell such a good story that I can’t wait to get to the next chapter – but then I don’t want to finish the book too quickly. Thank you for yet another great read. I now look forward to your next book!”

How very much I, and our 16 year-old daughter, have enjoyed ‘For Love and Glory’. She literally couldn’t put it down yesterday evening. We both loved the local recent history fascinating – please continue writing!”

I can’t adequately begin to tell you how thrilled and impressed I am with ‘For Love and Glory’. Throughout one identifies with Jo in all her trials, troubles and triumphs … All the time the reader lives every moment with her and the other characters. The Naval/Military chapters are excellent; they ring true … In the end, how marvellously the author states both points of view -the peace aspirants and the men who believed in what they were doing in their service. Fortunately I finished the book, reading it here on my own, when everyone else was out, because I was in tears at the end. What a really splendid book it is – so powerful, so wise, so compassionate, so deeply moving. One ‘lives it’ from start to finish.”

I departed from my normal procedure of keeping the book for a few weeks before reading it and started it almost immediately – and found it difficult to put down. I especially enjoyed some of your descriptions especially the sherbet and liquorice stick, it was so real – again another winner for you.”

I wanted you to know that I really enjoyed this book. The fact that it contained a change in subject matter from the run of the mill, predictable style ‘women’s read’ was certainly very refreshing. Being 38 years old I could relate to the times you wrote about from the sixties … Thanks again for several hours of engrossed reading!”

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13 comments on “The Tyneside Sagas and The Great War Sagas

  1. […] found out when I was researching The Suffragette – they were at a party! They’d hired a room at an Edinburgh hotel and were in fancy […]

  2. […] well as the long fight to get votes for women, the Suffragette movement was also very much involved in peace […]

  3. […] use of modern technology in their fight against women’s suffrage when I was writing The Suffragette. Information on this part of the police’s programme was so sensitive that it was only […]

  4. […] book, The Suffragette explores the issues these women were protesting – this was a national movement, so I set the […]

  5. […] The Tea Planter’s Daughter begins the story with the idyllic childhood of Clarissa & Olive Belhaven on their father’s once-thriving Indian tea plantation. […]

  6. […] Newcastle firm Ringtons Tea was part of the inspiration for The Tea Planter’s Daughter. My husband, Graeme, worked for them during school holidays when he was a sixteen year-old school […]

  7. […] is International Women’s Day, I’m going to post a couple of photos of my relations from the Suffragette […]

  8. […] commemorating on the nation’s coins? I wonder how much of a lift it would have given to the Suffragette’s foot-soldiers like my character Maggie Beaton when they faced tough times & the consequences of their actions? Share this:Like this:LikeBe […]

  9. […] the salons de thé, things are obviously quite different from a British tea room like one run by Clarissa Belhaven Tyneside. There’s none of the ritual that we have – when you order a cup of tea, you get a tea […]

  10. […] It was through discussion with my husband’s family who lived in Wallsend, and a meeting with John Mew who served on HMS Coventry that I came to write For Love and Glory. […]

  11. […] research for The Tea Planter’s Daughter into the Victorian / Edwardian tea trade eventually took me back to the murky world of early […]

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