Foodie Lit

Marion Eaton's Mysterious Marsh Series 

Series are special—when you get into characters, plot and setting, you crave knowing what happens and the series allows the reader to do so. The series allows the author to have the characters grow, learn and evolve. I have read many series, beginning in childhood, and continuing until adulthood. When well written, as Marion Eaton’s are, the pleasure of reading is increased and deepened.

 

Marion’s story line includes time slipping, ghosts and smuggling tunnels. Places have a special draw in this series—sometimes peaceful, sometimes filled with doom. Marion decided it would be fun to write a memoir about setting up a country legal practice back in the 1970s, and have the first mystery about a legal will. She told me, “However as I wrote, I kept remembering spooky things that had happened around me.” Her writing is both fiction and memoir, as so much of what occurs happened to the author, which she shaped into a coherent and well written story.

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The three books in the Mysterious Marsh Series are When the Clocks Stopped, When the Tide Turned, and When the Earth Cracked. We follow the same characters, whose task is to solve certain mysterious events in Romney Marsh and in a larger way, a goal is to “fix” a problem, whether in the past or the present. I find this to be a very interesting concept--that events are not unchangeable and that we may alter for the better the lives around.  Marion told me “I am convinced that events and time, like our beliefs, are fluid. It is only our belief in things being unchangeable that makes them so.”

In each book, there are concerns to be resolved and mysteries to be solved. These resolutions come about as Hazel Dawkins, our main character, her family, neighbors and friends and her trusty and very smart canine companion, Poppundum, are confronted with often life-threatening issues. Hazel often goes out to solve the mystery herself. The solving process includes slipping through the veil of time, encountering ghosts as well as using her legal mind to bring the issues of wills to a satisfactory end. How did Marion come up with the events in these stories? This is where the concept of memoir attaches to her books.

“My mother was psychic and often saw ghosts and received prophetic dreams. I always thought I didn’t – I was practical and boring by comparison, but perhaps that was because I was very academic while she was a dancer.  However, looking back, I remember being aware of time stretching and stopping sometimes. And I was often aware of a change in the atmosphere and the feeling that someone else was in the room. Although I couldn’t see the person, I could describe him or her, the colours they were wearing and what s/he wanted to communicate.”

 

The straight-forward detective/mystery aspect of these novels was planned by Marion. Again, these incidents come from her own life. “I like ‘legal’ novels but they are usually written around lawyers who specialise in litigation. I thought it would be fascinating for the clues to be found in non-contentious situations like conveyancing, especially because When the Clocks Stopped was based on true events and I did find the all-important clue in a packet of deeds. Plus I thought it was time for a country solicitor to have a little glory.”  {Please note that Marion is not misspelling words but using British spelling and using the Brit’s word for attorney—solicitor!}

While our author creates a character in Hazel who feels and sees what others do not, Marion is also writing about herself. Marion told me, “I have always had ‘feelings’ about places and have always known whether a house is ‘mine’ as soon as I’ve stepped across the threshold. And there have been places that feel so black and evil that I can’t enter them. Similarly, there are special places in the landscape, and by the sea to which I am drawn, and others that repel me.”

 

The sense of reality that we feel when reading her books is because of Marion’s own experiences—and this goes beyond the “magical.” Marion creates the intense love of Hazel for her daughter Jessica, the need to create a secure home, especially when confronted with danger, and an ongoing curiosity about all in life. Just as in herself, making a great writer.

 

Marion’s mother-in-law, Betty Barber is Australian.  Betty gave this wonderful recipe for a  Chocolate Fudge Pudding Cake to Marion back in the 1970’s. Marion made a few adaptations, as did I. And what a delicious dessert she shared, a favorite at Marion’s house and in English pubs.  

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