On being a writer...

A celebration of the writing process, of being a writer, of all the weird things that pass through a writing brain...

Friday, 21 March 2014

Crimea River

My daughter suggested that as a title when I was writing The Rose of Sebastopol.  Oddly apt these days.   I remember when I wrote the book being appalled by the way that the nations involved in the Crimean War of 1854 blundered into an invasion.  In those days there was quite an appetite in England for a war - there hadn't been one since we'd seen off Napoleon.  The general in charge of the war, Raglan, sometimes forgot that the Brits were now on the same side as the French, whom he often referred to as the enemy.

The Crimean War was tragic for so many reasons.  There was a cholera epidemic because the crucial connection between dirty water and the spread of cholera was only just being made; anesthetics were seldom used and antiseptic in the use of surgery was still a novelty.  The seige of Sebastopol caused devastating privation.  We know all about it because a correspondent from The Times sent back searing dispatches, and because of photographs and first hand accounts.

When I visited the Crimea, on a bargain package, I found the place haunted.  It was so beautiful, but had been trampled so many times by brutal armies.  So many wanted to claim it.  I was just a visitor, peering at the past through the eyes of a writer of fiction.  I have rarely felt history press me so close.

Probably the most moving place of all was Chekov's dacha in Yalta which has been preserved with great love.  Well, Chekov?


  1. I just finished reading the rose of sebastopole! Half an hour ago and i..... I don't know what to feel or think. Firstly, thank you. Thank you thank you so much for writing such a beautiful book. I cried so much and now i just feel broken, but also inspired. I feel like going out and saving the world. I cant wait to get my hands on more books by you. But please please tell me max marries mariella. Please i cant stand it. And let Rosa come back somehow, anyhow oh no im crying again. Sorry. Thank you for being amazing once again xo

  2. Sorry I came so late to this comment. I'm so glad you loved the book. I think I can reassure you about Mariella and Max. Look out for The Crimson Rooms because the sequel is coming out in July