Category Archives: Writing

In my fiction, some bits are real

As I begin to write my 4th Belleville novel, I was reflecting on my pleasure in having my fictional characters inhabit a world that is not entirely fictional. I enjoy grounding my characters in real environments, (where practical, I hasten to add).

I originally set out to write a trilogy. With that completed, I still felt there was more to write about the Belleville family as the next generation comes to adulthood. So watch this space.

Scattered throughout my books you’ll find references to real places (some pictured above) – in Book 1, Julia’s Story, St Paul’s Anglican Cathedral (Rockhampton) and the Criterion Hotel (Rockhampton) are important backdrops to the story.

Among my treasured possessions is a powder compact, ironically from 1942, which belonged to my mother’s younger sister. She died at 16 from pernicious anaemia – an entirely preventable disease these days – long before I was born but my mother kept some keepsakes of her sister. This small item (pictured above) is described in Book 1 as a gift to Julia.

There are many other examples of events and places that are real throughout my Belleville trilogy. Can you spot them?

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THE BELLEVILLE TRILOGY - http://jmarymasters.com

Book 1: Julia's Story
Book 2: To Love, Honour & Betray
Book 3: Return to Prior Park

Book Review 4**** stars: Return to Prior Park by J Mary Masters

And Mrs B, a dedicated reviewer, finished book 3 in my Belleville series, Return to Prior Park. She awarded all books 4 stars. Thanks so much, Mrs B.

Mrs B's Book Reviews

Title: Return to Prior Parkreturn to prior park smallAuthor: J Mary Masters

Published: February 28th 2019

Publisher: PMA Books

Pages: 400

Genres: Fiction, Historical

Rating: 4 stars

A final act of vengeance. An illicit liaison. A passionate affair. In this third instalment of the Belleville family story, loyalties will be tested and new secrets concealed as the family begin to rebuild their shattered lives. But in the end, it is Prior Park that draws them back as the next generation of the family begins to emerge.

In this third book in the series, the Belleville family begin to rebuild their shattered lives. Wrongly believing they are safe from the madman Alistair McGovern, he escapes from custody to attempt one final act of vengeance. In the aftermath of this final desperate act, each of them must come to terms with the events of the past.

Her marriage in tatters, Julia Belleville begins to question whether she can rebuild…

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Book Review 4**** stars: To Love, Honour and Betray

Thank you, Mrs B, for reading on and posting this great review for book 2 of the Belleville family saga, To Love, Honour & Betray

Mrs B's Book Reviews

Title: To Love, Honour and Betrayto love honour and betray smallAuthor: J Mary Masters

Published: July 7th 2017

Publisher: PMA Books

Pages: 284

Genres: Fiction, Historical

Rating: 4 stars

It’s 10 years since the end of book 1, Julia’s Story and the stresses are beginning to show in two marriages.

Julia Belleville, now Fitzroy, continues to mourn the daughter she was forced to give up, while her husband James begins to look elsewhere.

And CatherineRichard Belleville’s wife, restless and unimpressed by her life in Australia, embraces the unexpected events in her family that draw her back to her English life.

Hundreds of miles from the Belleville family’s grand home Prior Park, a terrible accident robs a young girl of her parents. It is only later that the consequences of this tragedy become known.

And what of Alistair McGovern, the late Francis Belleville’s bastard son? Now a young adult, he demands his share of the Belleville…

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Book Review 4*** Stars: Julia’s Story

I’m seriously delighted to share this great review from Mrs B’s Book Reviews for book 1 of the Belleville family saga, Julia’s Story

Mrs B's Book Reviews

Title: Julia’s Storyjulais story smallAuthor: J Mary Masters

Published: March 29th 2015

Publisher: PMA Books

Pages: 334

Genres: Fiction, Historical

Rating: 4 stars

It’s 1942. The world is at war. Julia Belleville, the headstrong only daughter of the wealthy Belleville family, falls hopelessly in love with American Army surgeon Dr Philippe Duval. When he is suddenly posted away, Julia is devastated, fearing she will never see him again.

Half a world away, Julia’s elder brother Richard is fighting for Britain, flying dangerous missions across the Channel knowing the next mission could be his last. He meets the beautiful Catherine Cavendish whose aristocratic parents disapprove strongly of the brash young Australian officer. Is he destined to find happiness with Catherine or will he be haunted forever by, Jane, the woman he left behind?

Brought up in Richard’s shadow, William Belleville resents the popularity of his older brother and when there is an…

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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