Susannah Breydel, a skilled Dutch weaver, is the sole survivor of a shipwreck on the southern Irish shore. Taken in by local people, she is implicated in a murder and sheltered by English settlers before seeking a new life in the East End of London. Set during the Nine Years’ War between England and Ireland, this is a tale of loyalty and love, as well as trauma, tumult and a terrible curse.
The Lion and The Loom, by S R Nicholls
A Note from SR Nicholls
I was amused and reassured at my younger brother’s comment on my novel - “ Y’ know what Sal, I’ve read an awful lot of books that are worse than this one !”
He & I have always liked to read intricate stories, rooted in some historical reality, so when I took early retirement from a career in social work and training, I decided to try and write such a story.
The background of my debut novel is partly imagined and partly found in some English contemporaneous sources, which may or may not be accurate. Memories of my work in London surfaced as I wrote. I recalled the attitudes and behaviours of a number of traumatised young men and women, as well as those who showed generosity, or great strength in facing adversity. Having referred to old maps, I spent time tramping around Spitalfields and central London, developing or imagining Tudor locations.
Important inspirations for the novel were my travels in the south and west of Ireland. I loved the charm of the people I met and the beauty of the landscape. But I found it difficult to make sense of the violence and terror erupting at that time, about which , as an Englishwoman, I was adjured not to speak.
This led me to expand my knowledge of early Irish and Tudor history. I became powerfully aware of the significance of the rebellions at that time there, all fuelled by religious conflict and political ambition, and echoing in many parts of Europe. The Ulster Earl of Tyrone’s rebellion could, had it been successful, have led the country to become united and thus later events possibly so different.
The ‘Lion And The Loom’ teems with characters, possibly too many, but it is necessary as its scope is wide.
Although, at intervals, struggling with a serious illness, I’ve found personal resilience and other therapeutic benefits in developing and finishing this novel, but I mainly hoped, and hope, that others find it an interesting and perhaps surprising read.