Books Historical Fiction Women in History


A family tale told with the zest of Jane Austen … With sensitive fingers, Taylor probes her creations’ pain, feeling their doubts, impulses and reasonings.  Delicately, she traces their rebellion from the stultifying past and their explorations of new settings and relationships.’ Catholic Herald 15 Jan 2015

‘OVER HERE’ opens on a shabby Liverpool dockside in mid-December, 1921, where a lone nine-year-old boy sits shivering in the rubble.  Will anyone believe him if he says he has just arrived from Canada – alone?  The novel is set in the troubled first half of the 20th century during the era of the great passenger liners.

The destabilising effects of estrangement and displacement – of what it means to be the outsider, the stranger, the one left behind following the devastation of  two world wars – are central themes affecting several members of one family, each of whom must respond to the call of ‘over here’ as it becomes either a cry from afar, a beckoning, or a refuge.  Coursing through each of their journeys as they set out to re-define what ‘homeland’ means is the Atlantic ocean, dividing two continents.  Who will work out how best to answer that call, particularly in the light of one fateful decision, too hastily taken, affecting them all indelibly down the years?

Will it be the vulnerable young Canadian medic preparing for Ypres in Folkestone, the ambitious one-time servant from ‘Laundry town’ Acton in its heyday, or the city girl who arrives in England in the late 1940s, unprepared for life in a remote East Anglian village? And what of that lost boy … ?


‘I don’t know how she does it … This is first class writing … Nuanced, assured, filled with dramatic irony, this is a gorgeous, sensitive, engaging story told with wit and poetry. Bravo!’

‘Overall a superbly assured debut.  We expect to be hearing more of Ms Taylor!’

‘Jane Taylor has the rare talent of writing about the characters as though she is each of them, and the courage to cast aside the reader’s natural expectation of events as they unfold, so as to tell the story as she really believes it should be told.’

‘My measure of a good book is that when I finish it I feel a certain sense of loss as it will no longer be part of my daily life.  I definitely felt that with this book and highly recommend it.’

‘I love the way Jane Taylor explores and develops her different characters so that they really get under your skin, whether you actually like them or not.  She also vividly describes places and situations, gradually drawing you further into the different strands of a story that weaves through the years, until you finally discover the outcome you have been waiting for.’

Books Historical Fiction Women in History


Imagine a local press just before the populist mass media innovations of the 20th century … Amazingly, the new local commercial newspapers of the late-Victorian era shied away from exposing disputes and exposing cultural clashes. In the 1890s in Cambridge the main vehicles of exchanging news were gossip and letters to the editor.

Imagine, then, what it must have been like to be a young female stepping out onto the chaotic narrow streets and waving at an acquaintance – only to be arrested by a university proctor bent on ridding the town of unsavoury influences.

What is a totally innocent housemaid to do when this happens to her, putting not just her freedom but her job and her reputation at risk? She has no public voice. Must she just submit? Similar dilemmas face women every day, during this rather edgy period just before the turn of the millennium. A young female student must ignore constant put-downs from the male-dominated university: she has no voice in the matter either, and however diligent she is she will not be awarded a degree – that ‘privilege’ was yet to come. A college porter’s daughter finds her beauty a blight on her freedom – for her own protection, cautions her father who knows a thing or two about male behaviour in these febrile times. But is it fair that she is a virtual prisoner?

There is one exception to this, in the form of a notorious local madam, who has long turned caution to the winds in view of the vulnerability of some of her customers, who are in positions of power. Unlike the others, her shame was abandoned years before.

This novel explores how each of them is affected by the Spinning House scandal when it can no longer be contained.