Jersey: Secrets of the Sea – JEP Review

I was delighted to read the Jersey Evening Post‘s generous review of Jersey: Secrets of the Sea this month. The JEP remains (in the words of its venerable slogan) “at the heart of Island life” and, in its original incarnation as the Evening Post, it has been a fixture of the Island since Victorian days. In fact the newspaper has been an important primary reference source in my research; notably when I wrote Summer of the Mumming Birds – about the August of 1912 when Charlie Chaplin visited the Island and the first aeroplane landed in St Aubin’s Bay.

An extract from the JEP’s review of JERSEY: SECRETS OF THE SEA is below:

“Jersey is shaped by the sea in every sense…. This warmly welcomed follow-up to his Jersey: The Hidden Histories once again takes a selection of characters from history and legend and retells their story in lightly fictionalised style and with cinematic vividness.

As well as being a fine writer, Mr Darroch is a natural storyteller and a sensitive historian. It is a rare combination of talent which, this new volume now confirms, has earned him a special niche in the currently blossoming worlds of Jersey arts and heritage. In short, he has the ability to bring history to life“...

(c) Jersey Evening Post 2019

The story that builds is that of Jersey itself and in a brilliant scene-setting device, Mr Darroch opens with the catastrophic wreck of King Henry I’s White Ship off Normandy in 1120, without the dynastic ramifications of which this tiny bailiwick may never have enjoyed its fruitful constitutional peculiarity.

This salty landfall of merchants, smugglers, fisherfolk, privateers and explorers owes a debt of gratitude to Paul Darroch for so entertainingly recounting how Jersey became what it is”. JERSEY EVENING POST review of Jersey: Secrets of the Sea – October 16th, 2019

I was naturally honoured and delighted by the review. Meanwhile, it’s a busy month ahead on the writing front… In November 2019, my articles will feature in Our Island and Jersey Life magazines. In addition, Jersey: The Hidden Histories is being reprinted again so another 1,000 copies will be hitting the shelves locally. I understand the price is also going up – so it could be worth purchasing one of the copies from the current print run before they are all gone! Both my books are ideal Christmas presents for anyone who loves Jersey and its history.

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Jersey Festival of Words – for the 4th time!

In September I spoke about Jersey: Secrets of the Sea at the Jersey Festival of Words at the Library in St Helier. This is my fourth time speaking at the Festival, and it’s always a pleasure to be part of such a high-profile event that is doing so much to put Jersey on the cultural map.

My talk focused on the compelling life story of T.B. Davis – the poor Victorian boy who was chastised for stealing chestnuts in the grounds of a grand house. He vowed one day to return and tear that house down stone by stone, brick by brick. In the end, the prophecy was fulfilled. He went on to earn a fortune in Africa, yet all the money in the world was not enough to spare him from the tragedy of the twentieth century. Today the grounds of that long-forgotten house are Howard Davis Park, named in honour of his son who fell in the Great War.

I was delighted by the enthusiastic reception to the talk and it’s great to see audiences enjoying some of the most evocative and moving true stories from Jersey’s past.

I also reprised the Titanic story from Jersey: Secrets of the Sea – White Star, Blue Iceberg – for charity at the Lounge for Macmillan on Burrard Street. This is an amazing venue – it’s where Big Maggy’s bike and coffee shop used to be. Featuring neon decor and stylish interior design it is a perfect community arts venue – and all for an exceptionally good cause. You can find out more about Jersey Macmillan here and I highly recommend dropping by the Lounge for coffee and cake!

Jersey: Secrets of the Sea – The Waterstones Event

Looking forward to the Jersey: Secrets of the Sea book signing at Waterstones on Friday 23rd August 2019 at 5.30pm. I am going to be introducing the book and sharing a reading from the first episode – The White Ship: The Butcher’s Story. Refreshments will be available and there is no obligation to buy a copy. If you love Jersey and its maritime history, this is the event for you! It’s happening at Waterstones, 16 Queen Street, St Helier, Jersey.

Paul Darroch at the launch of Jersey: Secrets of the Sea – August 1st, 2019 at Jersey Library. (c) Paul Darroch 2019

The White Ship: The Butcher’s Story

A ship is gliding home in the winter night. It is bleached as white as bones, and tonight it bears the sons of a King. This is no ordinary vessel. The White Ship dances over the waves, drawn by some unearthly power.

I have never beheld a ship so fair. Each deck is draped in rich gold and plumped with purple cushions. Even the benches are inlaid with jewels. The Blanche-Nef, the sailors reverently call it, seemingly speaking of a living thing. The ship is exquisitely sculpted as if from delicate ice, as sleek a craft as ever graced the seas. The elegance that surrounds us is astonishing. Even up here on the chilly main deck, where I am required to loiter as a common tradesman, I can see the slender timbers of the poop curving like the gleaming ribs of a prize ox.

I truly know of what I speak, for I am Berold of Rouen, master butcher by trade….

(c) Paul Darroch 2019

Jersey: Secrets of the Sea by Paul Darroch is available at Waterstones and WH Smith in Jersey, Maison de la Mare on King St, St Helier and Amazon UK. It can also be ordered direct from Seaflower Books in Wiltshire, England.

Jersey: Secrets of the Sea – Book Launch

JERSEY SECRETS OF THE SEA by Paul Darroch is published on August 2nd, 2019. It sells for £11.95 and will be widely available across Jersey and on Amazon UK.

Jersey: Secrets of the Sea is the panoramic story of an Island forged by the seas, set at the crossroads of maritime history, and told through the voices of the Jersey seafarers who made it.

The book launch is on Thursday August 1st, 2019 at 6pm at Jersey Library. This is a community event hosted by Jersey Library on behalf of Seaflower Books and is open to all.

The front cover – ‘SS Amazon’ on Fire in the Bay of Biscay (1852) by Philip John Ouless (1817-1855). Courtesy of the Jersey Heritage Collections.