Hi, I’m JL Merrow, and I’m delighted to be here today as part of the blog tour to celebrate the release of Wight Mischief, a romantic suspense novel set on the island I grew up on, the Isle of Wight.
Wight Mischief isn’t the only book to be set on the Isle of Wight. It isn’t even the only book by me set on the Isle of Wight—my rom-com Lovers Leap is set on the eastern side of the island. I’ve set a couple of daft paranormal shorts there, too: Hairy, Horny and Over Here and Tortoise Interruptus. But what about other authors?
There’s something uniquely conflicting about reading a book set in a place you know and love. There’s the instant appeal of a familiar setting, tempered with the concern that the author won’t get it “right”. Will they disparage the place you love? Portray the inhabitants as country bumpkins? Play fast and loose with geography for no apparent reason?
I put off reading Sue Brown’s lovely Isle of Wight MM romance series, starting with The Isle of…Where? for a long time for this reason. I needn’t, of course, have worried. She’s done the island proud.
But what about other books set on the island?
It turns out there’s quite a selection. Mappit found 78, including both fiction and non-fiction, although a quick browse of Amazon makes it clear there are a lot more than that. Many of the books are to do with Queen Victoria and her family—she was a noted island resident, living in Osborne House in Cowes at the north of the island. Others are guide books, including the worryingly named Wight Hazard—I was relieved to find it just contained sailing tips, not, say, warnings of mortal peril for anyone daring to set foot on the isle.
One I should have remembered, and didn’t, is John Wyndham’s The Day of the Triffids, which as I’m sure you know involves the blinding of most of humanity, upon which the planet is taken over by walking, poison-spitting giant plants. Much of the book is set on the mainland, but a colony of survivors is set up on the Isle of Wight.
This is, of course, very sensible, and works on the same principles followed by Rick and his people when they established their prison home in The Walking Dead: find a place that’s cut off from the rest of the world, defensible, and large enough to become self-sufficient. Come the zombie apocalypse, I’ll be heading back home to the Isle of Wight ASAP.
DH Lawrence wrote a book set in part on the island, The Trespasser. However, very few people appear to have read it, compared to his more famous Lady Chatterley’s Lover, despite this novel too centring on adultery. I guess those saucy island sexscapades just weren’t quite raunchy enough. Or maybe a good title is everything.
Julian Barnes (The Sense of an Ending) won a Man Booker prize for his novel set on the island, England, England, in which the Isle of Wight is turned into a theme park version of England, complete with replica Big Ben and Stonehenge. Eventually, the ersatz England becomes more convincing than the real one. This seems to be a bit of a Marmite novel, with as many one star reviews on Amazon as five star ones. I might give it a go, though.
Lynne Truss (Eats, Shoots and Leaves) offers up a comic Victorian concoction of Alfred Lord Tennyson, Lewis Carroll, Ellen Terry and pioneer photographer Julia Margaret Cameron, among others, in Tennyson’s Gift. This one’s going on my TBR list!
As is Jan Toms’ Isle of Wight Villains: Rogues, Rascals and Reprobate. It’s always nice to read books about people you know… 😉
Question: Have you read a book set in your local area? Did you enjoy it?
Giveaway: I’m offering a prize of a $10 Dreamspinner Press gift certificate to one lucky commenter on the tour, who will be randomly chosen on Friday 15th June. Good luck!
Check out Wight Mischief today!
A ghost of a chance at love.
Personal trainer Will Golding has been looking forward to a getaway with his best friend, Baz, a journalist researching a book on ghosts. But on the first day of their camping trip on the Isle of Wight, Will takes a walk on a secluded beach and spies a beautiful young man skinny-dipping by moonlight. Ethereally pale, he’s too perfect to be real—or is he?
Lonely author Marcus Devereux is just as entranced by the tall athlete he encounters on the beach, but he’s spent the years since his parents’ violent death building a wall around his heart, and the thought of letting Will scale it is terrifying. Marcus’s albinism gives him his otherworldly appearance and leaves him reluctant to go out in daylight, his reclusiveness encouraged by his guardian—who warns him to stay away from Will and Baz.
The attraction between Will and Marcus can’t be denied—but neither can the danger of the secrets haunting Marcus’s past, as one “accident” after another strikes Will and Baz. If they don’t watch their step, they could end up added to the island’s ghostly population.
Wight Mischief was previously published by Samhain, but has been completely re-edited and given a lovely new cover for this second edition by Dreamspinner Press.
JL Merrow is that rare beast, an English person who refuses to drink tea. She read Natural Sciences at Cambridge, where she learned many things, chief amongst which was that she never wanted to see the inside of a lab ever again.
She writes (mostly) contemporary gay romance and mysteries, and is frequently accused of humour. Two of her novels have won Rainbow Awards for Romantic Comedy (Slam!, 2013 and Spun!, 2017) and several of her books have been EPIC Awards finalists, including Muscling Through, Relief Valve (the Plumber’s Mate Mysteries) and To Love a Traitor.
JL Merrow is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, International Thriller Writers, Verulam Writers and the UK GLBTQ Fiction Meet organising team.