All posts by J Mary Masters (Judith)

I am an Australian novelist writing to entertain women readers. I am the author of the Belleville family series. Book 1: Julia's Story (previously published as The House of Secrets: Julia's Story) Book 2: To Love, Honour & Betray Book 3: Return to Prior Park

What authors want to see ….

What do authors want to see? They want to see their books nestled on the shelf in a quality bookstore – in this case HARRY HARTOG BOOKSELLER in Maroochydore – alongside authors whose names they recognise – in my case, Melina Marchetta to the left and Frances Mayes to the right. Then comes Fiona McIntosh and back to the left, David Malouf.

If you’ve been planning to dip into my Belleville series, you’ll find book 1 of the series – Julia’s Story – on the shelf.

I recommend a visit to Harry Hartog – for the simple pleasure of entering a beautiful bookstore.

Brisbane – then and now, from a writer’s viewpoint

I was in Brisbane earlier this week. Readers of my Belleville trilogy will know that Brisbane features in the story from time to time (but in its 1940s guise).

As I walked along Brisbane’s streets this week, I realised how much change had happened in the intervening years.

70+ years on, Brisbane is a modern city with some fine early buildings and a multi-cultural feel. It almost felt like a European city with its inner city open air market.

The Wednesday city market, which I hadn’t seen before, was great – food stalls from many cuisines, fresh fruit and vegetables from Brisbane’s highly-productive hinterland and some delicacies too – wonderful Portugese tarts.

I think June (winter) is the best time to visit Brisbane. It was bright and sunny, around 25 degrees C.

One landmark remains quite unchanged from the 1940s, certainly from the outside. The Queensland Club, of which one of my fictional characters was a member, still commands the prime spot opposite the Botanic Gardens in Alice Street. Check it out here – members only of course.

I have been to the Queensland Club once for a dinner. It’s every bit as grand as it appears.

And, of course, the Botanic Gardens that featured briefly in Book 1 would be as recognisable today, with its great towering fig trees pushing against the wrought iron fence, the legacy of an earlier era.

I had such fun incorporating these real places into my story. In what might seem like a straightforward family saga/romance, there is real history, real people and real events providing the framework for my fictional narrative.

European settlement of Brisbane dates from 1824 with its beginnings as a penal colony. If you’re planning a trip to Brisbane, take a walk along George Street for the best preserved landmark buildings that bear testament to the city’s colonial heritage. Of course, thousands of years before white settlement, Australia’s first people occupied the area.

For British readers: Your history within my Belleville novels

Watching the coverage of the commemoration of the D-Day Landings, I was reminded of the contribution young Australian men made to the air war and the defence of Britain in World War II. More than 10,000 Australians served with Bomber Command

And I was reminded of the history that underpins my fictional story of the wealthy Australian Belleville family.

Richard Belleville, the elder son and Julia Belleville’s brother, heads to Canada as part of the Empire Air Training Scheme (EATS), a Commonwealth scheme designed to address the shortfall of aircrew for the RAF.

Later, my fictional pilot Richard follows in the footsteps of many Australians with a posting to 460 SQN, a heavy bomber squadron (Nov 1941-Oct 1945) flying from RAF Binbrook in Linconshire. At 24, he would have been too old for Spitfires. Instead he flies the Avro Lancaster in bombing raids on Germany.

In his rare downtime, what else would a good-looking young Australian officer do but woo a beautiful young woman of aristocratic lineage?

Haldon Hall, Catherine Cavendish’s family home, is fictional but draws its inspiration from a number of fine country houses in England. 

The action moves between Australia and England. And America too.

Which means Book 1 of my Belleville series – Julia’s Story – is far more than the story of Julia Belleville as she emerges into womanhood in wartime Australia. 

It is also the story of her family. Her mother Elizabeth, her father Francis, her brothers Richard and William.

It is the story of events precipitated by war and complicated further by deception, a deception that impacts all their lives. It is a story that spans three continents. It begins in 1942 in book 1, Julia’s Story and ends in 1960 in book 3, Return to Prior Park.

FREE READING

For the first four chapters of each of the Belleville novels, go to jmarymasters.com and download the PDF.

British readers can buy Julia’s Story online from

WATERSTONES – LINK HERE
FOYLESLINK HERE
BOOK DEPOSITORYLINK HERE
or from your favourite ebook retailer BUYING OPTIONS CLICK HERE – or Amazon.co.uk

BOOK DETAILS:
JULIA’S STORY
BOOK 1 OF THE BELLEVILLE FAMILY SERIES
By J Mary Masters
Published by PMA Books * ISBN 9780994327642 

4 Star Review: Julia’s Story

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I wanted to share this 4 star review of the first of my Belleville books, Julia’s StoryThe review was written by  ElizaBeth Adams » 30 May 2019, 21:31

4 out of 4 stars ****  BUYING OPTIONS CLICK HERE:

All I have to say is, “Nooooooo!” Not, “No, don’t read this book,” or, “No, it isn’t any good.” “Nooooooo,” because the book ended. It ended and so many plot lines are achingly unresolved. You just can’t do this to me J Mary Masters. I have to know what happens next! Forgive me for a second while I throw an unattractive grown-up fit. I want the next book and I want it now. Phew! At least there is a next book, two actually, and they are already released. Okay. I believe I can calm down now. Breathe, breathe, breathe. Let’s see, where was I? That’s right. I was getting ready to tell you all about the engaging book I just finished reading, Julia’s Story, Book 1 in the Belleville Family Series, by J Mary Masters.

So, here’s the scoop. The high-society Belleville family resides in Australia, and we are introduced to them during WWII. The culture described had many parallels to the antebellum period in the American South; fancy dresses for the well-to-do ladies, cattle farms instead of cotton plantations, house servants instead of slaves, and was complete with societal expectations shaping accepted public behaviour. These expectations played a large role in fuelling the conflict in this story.

Within the walls of Prior Park we meet Francis and Elizabeth Belleville’s family. Elizabeth is a strong-minded woman who is in charge, especially in regard to her children’s marriage prospects. Francis on the other hand is painted as a lazy, pampered man who drinks too much and never lives up to his full potential.

They have three mostly-grown children; Richard, William, and Julia. Richard, the oldest and favourite son unexpectedly joins the air force. He departs for training immediately after he drops the bomb that he plans to marry someone of lower-station who, of course, doesn’t meet with his mother’s approval, leaving a severe rift between himself and his parents. Will Richard’s love outlast the war? Meanwhile, with Richard away, William finds himself in the lime-light and uses this time to power-play his way up within the family ladder. When Richard returns, will William be willing to relinquish his new-found control? Julia, not long after her eighteenth birthday, falls in love with the American soldier, Dr. Philippe Duval. Knowing that her family would never approve, they keep their relationship a secret. Soon the American gets posted in Hawaii, and Julia finds her virtue in precarious standing. Will Julia and Philippe ever be reunited? As the tale unfolds and scandal ensues the Belleville family members must make decisions with consequences that could ruin their treasured reputation in society or tear their family apart.

I thoroughly enjoyed every aspect of this novel. It’s difficult for me to say what I loved the most, because multiple strengths synergistically worked together to make this an enjoyable read. The characters were well-developed and showed vulnerabilities. Elizabeth’s domineering ways could be easily imagined. Her actions were frustrating and yet at times a softer side of her character was shown and she was endearing.

Julia experiences heartbreak, and this wasn’t overdramatized or underplayed. I really appreciated the way the author meted out information and used foreshadowing to build suspense. We know in advance that Julia and Dr. Philippe Duval face heartache, but we don’t know of what nature. Also, we find subtle clues to Francis’ on-going affair well before it is concretely revealed. Then, there was the cliffhanger ending. When I swiped left and found no more story, the plummet into panic I experienced told me that the author had done her job. I wanted more. And isn’t that a sign of good storytelling?

Due to the depth of characters, an intricately complex plot, and suspenseful writing, I happily give this book a 4 out of 4 rating. If you enjoy family dramas set in historical time periods with romance elements woven throughout, this one’s for you. If plot lines centred on character relationships don’t sound appealing, steer clear. This book was an amazing ride. Just be prepared for the sudden stop. Better yet, go ahead and snag a copy of the next one in the series. You’ll be happy you did.

[An official OnlineBookClub.org review of “Julia’s Story” by J Mary Masters.]

BOOK DETAILS:

Julia’s Story
BOOK 1 OF THE BELLEVILLE FAMILY SERIES
By J Mary Masters
Published by PMA Books  www.pmabooks.com
ISBN 9780994327642 $24.95 in paperback

 

Tea with Mrs B: Alli Sinclair

This is what I meant to re-blog – the interview with Alli Sinclair, author of The Cinema at Starlight Creek

Mrs B's Book Reviews

tea with mrs b v2.jpgWelcome to Tea with Mrs B, an author interview series. Here to share a pot of tea and to chat about her brand new book, The Cinema at Starlight Creek, is Alli Sinclair.

Alli profile colour

Alli Sinclair, an adventurer at heart, has won multiple awards for her writing. She is Australian and has lived in Argentina, Peru and Canada, and has climbed some of the world’s highest mountains, worked as a tour guide in South and Central America and has travelled the globe. She enjoys immersing herself in exotic destinations, cultures and languages but Australia has always been close to Alli’s heart. Alli hosts retreats for writers and presents writing workshops around Australia, as well as working in film on international projects. She’s a volunteer role model with Books in Homes and is an ambassador for the Fiji Book Drive. Alli’s books explore history, culture, love and grief, and relationships between family…

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My Belleville family: Love affairs, seduction, temptation …. this story took on a life of its own

The story of the Belleville family had been in my head for so long I feel as if they are old friends. Yet I could not have imagined how book 3 would turn out.

Something amazing happened as I wrote it. My characters’ lives really took over the writing. I cannot describe just how satisfying that was.

As I wrote the story, it took so many surprising turns. 

New people inserted themselves into the story. New ideas and new directions for their lives took over the storytelling.

There is no one main protagonist. It is, instead, the story of a family and a story of their lives as they cope with tragedy, disappointment, failed marriages and love affairs that threaten to derail their lives.

Who will you fall in love with as you read about the Belleville family?

Is it the handsome war hero Richard Belleville? Or the charismatic James Fitzroy with his roving eye? Or will you be seduced by the suave charm of American surgeon Dr Philippe Duval? Or the polite and sophisticated Englishman Sir Edward Cavendish? Or does your heart belong to the steady and faithful William Belleville?

And of the women? Who would my women readers most like to be?

The controlling matriarch Elizabeth Belleville? Or her daughter Julia Belleville whose life is changed irrevocably in Book 1 by the actions of her mother?

Of is it the aristocratic beauty Catherine Cavendish who tries hard to love the Australian way of life but cannot settle?

Or Alice Fitzroy whose ambitions are simply for a good marriage and a happy family?

And then, in Book 3, we meet the new friends.

Kate Lester, a wife and mother who had settled for a loveless marriage until … (no, sorry, no spoilers here).

AND finally

Karen Clarke … glamorous, provocative, a temptress ….. a woman not used to be denied. 

Through all this there are two great family secrets. One ends in …… (no, no spoilers) … and the other ….. you must read the books. You must know the outcome of these Belleville family secrets. 

You must read the books, cover to cover. Only that will do.

And who am I secretly in love with? That will remain my secret …..

The pleasure of writing the story of the Belleville family

The Belleville trilogy is now complete

Some years ago, as I was completing a Year of the Novel course at Queensland Writers Centre, I had an idea for a story. Or more precisely, an idea for a story found me through a dream. Several years on, the story has now been told through the Belleville family trilogy with the third book – RETURN TO PRIOR PARK – being released this week.

As I wrote the third book, I was amazed at how the characters’ lives took over their stories. In some ways book 3 is quite a departure from the first two – so I will be very interested to hear what readers have to say.

I wanted to refresh the first two books – not the stories – but the presentation, so I have released each book with a new more contemporary cover design.

The Belleville story is a timeless story – of love, of betrayal, of secrets and tragedy. Its origins are Australian but its reach is international – from New York to London to Sydney and to country Australia.

The Belleville trilogy

Julia’s Story (previously The House of Secrets: Julia’s Story)
Book 1 – ISBN 9780994327642

To Love, Honour and Betray
Book 2 – ISBN 9780994327659

Return to Prior Park
Book 3 – ISBN 9780994327635

My one hope is that my readers enjoy reading the books as much as I enjoyed writing them. Will there be more Belleville books? Perhaps. 
For more information, including links to buy the books, go to
my website.