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Their Chilling Fall
Travel in 1804 is perilous at best and the ship on which the Chadwicks are travelling is veered off course in a fierce storm that deposits them on Cape Breton. Among the flotsam left on the beach by the storm, are several dead bodies, one full of knife wounds.
Georgina and Jeffrey’s plans have taken a hard left into chaos. Instead of the city they expected, they are in the wilderness of Nova Scotia, instead of preparing for the winter, they are charged with a murder investigation and then there are the orphans. Surely the winter can’t be that long!
Why the Early 1800's?
I am constantly struck by the similarity of events in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, to our own era. Political turmoil brought on by the French Revolution and the Gordan Riots, the seemingly endless war between France and the rest of Europe, and the resulting economic instability, all have comparisons today.
Then there is the conservative and religious backlash that would result in the strictures of the Victorian age. It occurs to me that in the early 19th century women had more freedom than they would have for the next 100 years.
Given the turmoil of the period, I have been intrigued by what it would be like to live during that time. How did you communicate over distances and during emergencies. How effective was private communication? Without electronic communication, how effective was the information gathering so necessary to wage the war against Napoleon?
Uniting Enemies is my interpretation of life in 1801. It is based on a real government organization, the Alien Office, the beginnings of the British Secret Service. I have tried to imagine the consequences of a time when communication was actually a lot more complicated than today.
In my second novel Facing Enemies, the hero also of the Alien Office, has to cross enemy lines to Boulogne France. In Boulogne, Napoleon is attempting to organize an invasion of England. Facing Enemies is also based on real events including a company of the French army that served as translators. Few French spoke English and Napoleon realized that control of England after invasion would be problematic if they could not communicate their demands.
I think it is engrossing to try to walk in our ancestor’s shoes and imagine what their everyday lives are like. More enjoyed travel than we realize, loved good food, adored their children and were passionate for a good bottle of wine, probably more than one. I certainly believe there are many similarities both political and personal. But their lives were playing out when the latest communication technology was the semaphore, a sturdy pencil, a good horse and Napoleon was planning invasion.
Yes, Dublin is dangerous, Boulogne even more so, but then so is love.
Mary Ann Trail is an author, traveler, mother and lover of history. A history major in college, she is a lifelong resident of southern New Jersey, where she spent most of her professional life as a college librarian. She loves living equidistant from the Philadelphia and Newark International airports—both jumping off points for travel that allows her to explore, first hand, the settings for her stories. Frequent trips to England with her sister fanned her interest in English history as they strolled through Bath, followed Roman roads in Wales, and wandered prehistoric mounds in Dorset.