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Rave reviews for Ribble Valley author's first fictional novel

Ribble Valley author Jenny Palmer has won some glowing reviews for her latest book.
Ribble Valley author Jenny Palmer has won some glowing reviews for her latest book.
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Author and traveller Jenny Palmer has published her first fictional novel and it is winning rave reviews.

Keepsake and Other Stories is an anthology of short stories set in her native Lancashire and also London.

Some of the stories are contemporary and others delve into the historical past.

The book is a new departure in that it is published by Bridge House, a Salford publisher, who published eight of the stories online and three in anthologies, called Best of Cafelit.

This is also Jenny's first fictional novel, written in the form of 26 short stories, rather than memoir or family history as the others were.

Jenny (68) said: " I wrote the stories over a number of years and workshopped them in various writing groups including Clitheroe Writers’ Group."

Jenny was thrilled when a reviewer on Amazon described the stories as "Delightful snippets of life.

"Something for everyone. A pleasure to read and explore life’s rich tapestry."

Jenny said she draws her inspiration from life and tries to turn it into stories which are both "enjoyable and informative."

She said: " Lies, All lies!’ is a fictionalised account of the protestations of Jane and John Bulcock, who share the same surname as my grandmother, when they were condemned as witches at Lancaster in 1612.

"Others are pure invention, such as ‘Under Cover’ written in the form of a letter by someone involved in an animal rights’ campaign, which takes an unexpected turn."

Jenny has been described as a "woman ahead of her time" as she has lived in some of the world's most dangerous places, always preferring to travel alone.

Living in countries like Bolivia where social unrest, political fragmentation, drug trafficking and human rights violations were all part of everyday life became the norm for former teacher Jenny.

And it was a far cry from her idyllic childhood growing up in the picturesque village of Twiston near Downham where she returned in 2008.

Those wonderful years as one of five children was captured by Jenny in her autobiography Nowhere Better Than Home which she published in 2012. She followed that up with Pastures New which takes up where the first book left off.

It describes her life after a year abroad studying German, returning to Reading for her final year, working as a teaching assistant in Germany and as an insurance clerk in London, before lighting on a career teaching English to foreign students which took her from working in Ramsgate to far-flung places like Libya, Spain and Mexico, interspersed with trips to North Africa, the Middle East and various parts of Latin America.

Jenny who self-published a family history, going back 400 years, called Whipps, Watsons and Bulcocks, travelled to Bolivia in 1984 when she took unpaid leave from her job, rented out her flat and set off, travelling through Peru where she climbed to the foot of Machu Picchu.

She said: “At the time there was a lot of political unrest in Bolivia and I met a lot of women who were campaigning for human rights by going on hunger strike.

“I admired their determination and tenacity and I managed to interview a group of them and my story was published.”

Jenny was also honoured to meet Domitila Barrios de Chungara, the wife of a Bolivian tin miner whose book, Let Me Speak, chronicled the hardships faced by Bolivia’s working class and her own efforts at organising women in the mining community.

Jenny said: “Bolivia was a life changing experience for me because in a way they were going through austerity measures similar to what we are experiencing now in the United Kingdom, but in Bolivia’s case it was 10 times harder.”

During her time in Libya Jenny said she was largely unaware of the political unrest created by dictator Colonel Gadaffi as the majority of people were just trying to get on with their lives.

She said: “The people were lovely and friendly and we all used to go for picnic lunches amid Roman ruins on a regular basis.”

Jenny will be holding a book signing session at Pendle Heritage Centre in Barrowford on Friday, August 17th, from noon to 3pm. All her books are also available to buy from the centre.