Kingsclere Community Library offered another delightful evening on 9th Feburary to local residents when author Birgit Mayled, who writes under the pen name of Anna Nagel, visited to discuss her book ‘Fair Game’, an historical romance set during the upheaval of the English Civil War.
Birgit explained how she wove actual historical events, including the Battles of Newbury and the siege of Donnington Castle, the witch finders of the time, Puritans and historical characters into her book. She visited many locations to get ideas, including Aldbourne Church whose fictional version sees some key action. Stories of sieges and occupations such as happened at Corfe Castle on the Isle of Purbeck also lent historical detail to her novel. She pointed out that the memorial at the roundabout in Wash Common was to the Battle of Newbury which occurred in the fields nearby, which was a surprise to several in the audience. ‘I always just assumed that memorial was for World War II, or perhaps the first world war,’ one person said. ‘I had no idea it commemorated something that happened so long ago.’
The audience learned how innocent women were targeted by the ‘witch finders’ of the time and that being unpopular could make someone vulnerable to spiteful or fearful neighbours. Birgit read out a historical account of a man describing how his wife suspected a neighbour of making their child ill ‘because she was jealous’.
Library volunteer Nicki Lee said ‘I had read ‘Fair Game’ last year, and in fact that is why I was keen to have Birgit visit us. I was fascinated to hear how she researched the novel, and the amount of work that went into providing enough detail to bring the story alive. In a good book all this work just disappears naturally into the story, and that’s what happened with this one. I thoroughly enjoyed the book, and hearing about how it was written was very interesting.’
Birgit read several passages from her novel, often ending on a cliffhanger leaving the audience wondering. Copies of the book were sold afterwards to those who couldn’t wait to discover what happened, while a glass of wine was enjoyed.