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Seaflower Books

Books on the Channel Islands


Published in 2019:

August saw publication of JERSEY: SECRETS OF THE SEA, the long awaited sister volume to the author’s much admired 2015 publication, JERSEY: THE HIDDEN HISTORIES. Readers will not be disappointed with Paul Darroch’s latest which, like his previous book, relates stirring episodes from Jersey’s history, but this time with a particular emphasis on maritime matters. The back cover blurb describes the book as follows:

‘The story of Jersey is shaped by the sea. The treacherous Channel waters drowned the King of England’s son in the White  plunged his realm into chaos. Jersey legends tell of the waves that swept away the doomed manor of La Brecquette and sprung the fearsome trap of the Golden Chair.

Yet the ocean’s call of adventure inspired the mariners of Jersey to traverse the world. It tempted Sir Walter Raleigh, Jersey’s fallen Governor, into his fatal quest for El Dorado, and drove local boy Tom Davis to build a fortune in Africa. The same pioneering spirit led Lilian Grandin, Jersey’s first female doctor, to set sail for China, where she would sacrifice her life.

Jersey: Secrets of the Sea is their story, imagined in their own words. Step onto the bridge of RMS Titanic with her Jersey quartermaster just as the deadly iceberg looms into view, while Islander Lucy Duff-Gordon slumbers in her first-class suite below. Discover the story of her sister Elinor Glyn, who found fame at the peak of Hollywood’s Golden Age.

Stand with the Jersey Company volunteers as they leave St Helier for the Great War; and watch the lone boatman in 1941 slipping away from the shadow of the German Occupation.

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.’

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In May we published PROMISES NOT FORGOTTEN, sub-titled ‘A True Wartime Tale of Devotion between a Guernseyman and his American Wife’, by US-based author Gerald Breen. It is the story of a Guernseyman, Harry Marley, who married American Martha Hinch in 1935 and settled down to life together in St Peter Port. Until, that is, the threat of invasion by the Nazis in 1940. As a US citizen, they both considered it best for Martha to leave Guernsey. At first she went to England and then back to the United States. So, husband and wife were forced to live apart for the duration of the Occupation.
They longed to be together again, as their occasional correspondence demonstrates. Harry had promised to join Martha in the United States as soon as he was able and finally did so in August 1945, more than five long years since parting.

Years later, Harry and Martha’s American niece, Susan Williamson, invited her friend Gerald to read through a trunk-full of correspondence, photographs and documents which Harry had left behind. After some time, during which Gerald became thoroughly familiar, not only with Harry and Martha’s story, but also with the island of Guernsey, he put pen to paper to tell their story of ‘Promises not Forgotten’.
His book is the compelling, true and moving story of the couple falling in love during Martha’s holiday visit to the island in the glorious summer of 1933, Harry’s visit with his friend Edward Brouard to Martha’s home in Virginia the following year, their marriage in London in 1935 and their settling into married life in St Peter Port.
Although an American who, owing to his medical condition, has never visited Guernsey, author Gerald Breen has studied the island intensely. He is also extremely well informed about the circumstances leading up to the Nazi invasion in June 1940 and of life in the island before and during the Occupation.
Finally, his book goes on to relate something of Harry and Martha’s subsequent life together in the US following Liberation.
Sadly, Martha died in 1982 at the age of 78. Harry returned to the island of his birth the following year and did so for the next seventeen years for a two or three week stay, usually scheduled to coincide with Liberation Day celebrations. His last visit was in 2005 when, at the age of 96, he paid a special visit when his cousin, Geoff Rowland, was appointed the 86th Bailiff of Guernsey.
Harry died in his hundredth year and, although Martha was no longer with him, it is clear that Harry’s promise to her had been honoured until his own demise.