A Chat With. . .
Exclusive Chat With George Standish-Brookes & Henry Fitzwalter, Stars of The Captain and the Cricketer.
Today I have the very great pleasure to welcome the stars of ‘The Captain and the Cricketer’ George Standish-Brookes and Henry Fitzwalter to Chicks, Rogues and Scandals for an exclusive and illuminating chat. Really these lads are a hoot! (Plus, they provided scones, so I’m happy.) So, take a seat, get the tea and scones at the ready because you really don’t want to miss a moment of this chat.
Frankie: Hello lads, Welcome to Chicks, Rogues and Scandals! Thank you for taking the time to chat with me today.
Hello! Captain George Standish-Brookes reporting for duty all alone, alas, as Fitz is in the kitchen talking to a concerned resident about their ferret’s toenails or some such – village vets never sleep! So for now, at least, you’ll have to put up with just me.
Frankie: I don’t mind at all, it’s so good to have you here. Firstly, what five words would you use to describe yourself?
George: I’ll give you three. No, four. Captain George Standish-Brookes. One doesn’t like talking about oneself – the gossip columns have done enough of that already. Instead, I’ll give you five words to describe Fitz – Henry to his mum – instead, and he can deal with the George side of things. So Fitz, who has now joined me with a pot of tea and a plateful of scones, is five words of fabulous. Handsome, smart, tweedy, sexy, husband.
Frankie: Hello Henry, so glad you could join us.
Henry (aka Fitz): Oh hell, I’ve dropped the scones! Well that’s very kind of you, Standy-Bee. My five words for you would be… gorgeous, brave, mischievous, shirtless and kind.
George: I’m not always shirtless, just in case people were wondering about what I do in winter. Often, not always.
Frankie: *Smiling* If you could take a holiday in any era and place, when and where would it be? And why?
George: I’m very fortunate to have seen many of my bucket list destinations whilst filming my Secret Histories series for the Beeb. And as anyone who’s watched them (which is, I think, several million of you) will know, I’m no stranger to getting togged up and trying out life as it was back in Sparta, Rome, the Russian revolution, Sherwood Forest and half a dozen other amazing eras.
Henry: Several million? Could I have a sixth word to describe, George, please — cocky!
George: You’ll get us an X rating talking like that! If I take my pick though, I’d whisk Fitz and I back to Rome in the 1960s. We’d hop on a scooter and join Anita Ekberg for a frolic in the Trevi Fountain!
Henry: I’d pick the Treetops Hotel in Kenya in the 1950s — but without any shooting going on. I’d just like to drive about in a jeep with George and watch the lions at sunset.
George: Oh, that’s a lovely idea, darling. You and I tooling about, you in your Panama hat and sensible togs, me in far less. Sunblock and a smile.
Frankie: Can you tell us a little about your latest release? This can be your most recent or up-and coming release.
George: The Captain and the Cricketer is a new release by Catherine Curzon and Eleanor Harkstead that tells our story, Fitz and me, from daggers drawn to sharing scones and a lot more besides. In true promo fashion, you’ll have to buy it to find out how we solved a crime, saved a village and banished a billionaire!
Henry: And rescued a foal! George — if you blow on the scone, it’s perfectly edible. They were only on the floor for under five seconds.
George: Your mind’s in the gutter today, Fitz. Blow on this, cocky that! And yes, we rescued a lovely foal and a darling of a dog, who is eyeing that scone with interest but no hope of getting it. Fitz surrenders his scone to nobody!
Frankie: *Cough’s subtly* Who was your childhood hero?
George: Fitz. He was my best chum and I always wished I could be him, because he never struggled with his homework or got bowled out first wicket. He’s still my hero today, I’m very blessed to know him.
Henry: I always admired George when we were nippers. But might I say James Herriot? I have all of his books, and George and I were glued to the screens on Sunday evenings watching his adventures!
George: I always had a bit of a crush Tristan when I was a boy. The first stirrings!
Henry: Ah, Tristan — there’s a man who knows how to carry off a cricket jumper.
George: That was Dr Who, darling. Do you remember that stick of celery he wore? I should do that at the next match, cricket jumper, whites, celery. I’m halfway to a Bloody Mary.
Frankie: If you could have one of your books made into a film, which book would it be and who would play your lead characters?
George: The Captain and the Cricketer, since it’s the only Curzon/Harkstead novel that stars Henry and me. Whoever plays me would have to be very, very British. A posh boy who looks good in cricket jumpers and out of them!
Henry: Not that he was an actor, but my hero — James Herriot.
George: Good choice, Fitz. I have no idea what he looked like, but spiritually, you’re the heir to his stethoscope.
*Frankie’s note : Above left the real James Herriot and right my choice of who would play George; Toby Stephans.
Frankie: You are the stars of the Captain and the Cricketer, but who is your favourite character in the book – yourselves excepted? (Question rewritten by George and Henry!]
George: If I can, I’ll say say Jez and Nimrod, our horse and dog, because they’re a couple of gorgeous little heroes. Otherwise I think Reverend Standish-Brookes and Bad Billy Fitzwalter, our 18th century ancestors. They’re quite a trailblazing and scandalous pair! And the rev’s mum, Georgie, because she was up for just about anything and looked fabulous in a frock!
Henry: And you look fabulous in a frock, too, darling! As for me, well, the newts who live in Longley Parva Manor’s lake are a particular favourite.
George: I’ve spent many happy hours running programme ideas past those newts – they’re refreshing full of common sense for a chap who’s used to dealing with the British press!
Frankie: *Giggles away for a good five minutes* What three tips would you pass on to an aspiring author?
George: Three tips for an aspiring anything, just to have a happy life. Be patient, be kind, eat cake.
Henry: I am an aspiring author myself, you know. I’ve started to write my memoir. A sort of 21st century James Herriot.
George: All Fitzes Great and Small.
Henry: That’s the working title! My advice would be: don’t let your dog chew your pens, don’t let your dog eat your notepads, and finally, don’t let your dog walk across your keyboard.
Frankie: *Laugh’s again* Great tip, just keep dog away. If you were hosting a dinner party what three people would you invite? (They can be real/fictional, from any era)
George: I’m rather fortunate in that my careers as an occasionally shirtless TV historian means that I’ve been able to meet a lot of my heros and work with a fair few of them so I’m probably going to have to jaunt back into history for this one. What about you, Fitz? Siegfried, Tristan and Tricky Woo?
Henry: I always thought the late, great Robert Hardy would’ve been fun to meet — he seemed to be full of bonhomie. Jenny Lind — she could sing for us after dinner, as I’ve always wondered what her voice sounded like. Not on some scratchy old record, but live — that would be amazing, wouldn’t it? And the legendary W G Grace, too — would love to get some tips from him. Maybe practice with him in the hallway.
George: Oh, that’s a marvellous trio, you could all share a pizza and a few bottles – think of the stories! I would gather good old Magellan, whose voyage I recreated for the Beeb a couple of years ago. I’d love to meet the remarkable Sacagewa too, because she’s a lady we should all know a darn sight more about. To fill the third seat who better than the man, the legend, the great, David Gower. I’m sure they’d all find plenty of common ground. Cricket and exploring – perfect!
*Left to right : Jenny Lind, W.G Grace, David Gower and Siegfried, Tristan Farnon and James Herriot with Tricky Woo.
Frankie: Thank you both, for taking the time out of your busy schedules to chat with me today. I have just one more cheeky question, just for fun . . . What is your all-time favourite naughty but nice food?
George: Strawberries and cream shared with Fitz, sitting beside the lake at home on a balmy summer evening. Perfection!
Henry: With a bottle of champers?
George: At least. Maybe even two.
Henry: Sharing an ice cream cone on the prom at Brighton with George. With lots of sprinkles and raspberry sauce!
George: Everything’s better with lots of sauce.
Frankie: Perfect! Thank you, lads. It has been wonderful to chat with you today and thank you for the scones. I don’t mind that they’ve been on the floor. 😉
Meet the Authors
You have met George and Henry, now here are the two wonderful ladies who have given wings to their story.
Catherine Curzon is an author and royal historian of the 18th century.
She has written extensively for publications including HistoryExtra.com, the official website of BBC History Magazine, Your Family History, Real Crime, Explore History, All About History, History of Royals and Jane Austen’s Regency World. Catherine has given solo talks at venues and events including the Stamford Georgian Festival, the Jane Austen Festival, Lichfield Guildhall, the National Maritime Museum at Greenwich and Dr Johnson’s House. In addition, she has appeared with An Evening with Jane Austen, starring Adrian Lukis, at Kenwood House, the Hurlingham Club, Godmersham Park, the Royal Pavilion, Brighton, the Jane Austen Festival, Bath, and the Stamford Georgian Festival.
Catherine holds a Master’s degree in Film and when not dodging the furies of the guillotine can often be found watching the mighty Huddersfield Town. She lives in Yorkshire atop a ludicrously step hill with a rakish colonial gentleman, a long-suffering cat and a lively dog
Eleanor Harkstead likes to dash about in nineteenth-century costume, in bonnet or cravat as the mood takes her. She can occasionally be found wandering old graveyards. Eleanor is very fond of chocolate, wine, tweed waistcoats and nice pens. Her large collection of vintage hats would rival Hedda Hopper’s.
Originally from the south-east, Eleanor now lives somewhere in the Midlands with a large ginger cat who resembles a Viking.
George and Henry’s Story
The Captain and The Cricketer
When an uptight countryside vet and a sexy TV star meet on the cricket pitch, they’re both knocked for six!
Henry Fitzwalter is a solid sort of chap. A respectable rural vet and no stranger to tweed, he is the lonely inhabitant of crumbling Longley Parva Manor.
Captain George Standish-Brookes is everyone’s favorite shirtless TV historian. Heroic, handsome and well-traveled, he is coming home to the village where he grew up.
Henry and George’s teenage friendship was shattered by the theft of a cup, the prize in a hard-fought, very British game of cricket. When they resolve their differences thanks to an abandoned foal, it’s only a matter of time before idyllic Longley Parva witnesses one of its wildest romances, between a most unlikely couple of fellows.
Yet with a golf-loving American billionaire and a money-hungry banker threatening this terribly traditional little corner of Sussex, there’s more than love at stake. A comedy of cricket, coupling and criminality, with a splash of scandal!
You can pre-order their story now at Amazon.
Today I have the very great pleasure to welcome Historical Fiction author; Joy Rhoades to Chicks, Rogues and Scandals for an exclusive chat and to share my review of her beautiful debut novel; the Woolgrowers Companion.
I grew up in a small town in the bush in Queensland, Australia. I spent my time with my head in a book, or outdoors – climbing trees, playing in dry creek beds, or fishing for yabbies in the railway dam under the big sky. Some of my favourite memories were visiting my grandmother’s sheep farm in rural New South Wales where my father had grown up. She was a fifth generation grazier, a lover of history, and a great and gentle teller of stories. My childhood gave me two passions: a love of the Australian landscape and a fascination with words and stories.
I left the bush at 13 when I went to boarding school in Brisbane. I stayed on there to study law and literature at the University of Queensland. After, my work as a lawyer took me first to Sydney and then all over the world, to London, Hong Kong, Singapore, Tokyo and New York. But I always carried in my head a strong sense of my childhood: the people, the history, the light and the landscape. Those images have never left me and they would eventually become The Woolgrower’s Companion. It’s a story I’ve felt I had to tell.
I currently live in London with my husband and our two young children. But I miss the Australian sky.
Frankie Hi Joy, Welcome to Chicks, Rogues and Scandals! Thank you for taking the time to chat with me today.
Firstly what five word’s would you use to describe yourself?
Joy I guess I’m curious and tenacious. And kind, I hope. I try to be.
Frankie If you could take a holiday in any era and place, When and where would it be? And Why?
Joy If I could time travel, I’d like to go with aviation pioneer from the ‘30s, Amelia Earhart. To meet her and find out what happened to her. I have always wanted to learn to fly, and she was such a woman of firsts. Inspiring and tragic. I’m fascinated like many, as to what really happened to her in the end.
Joy The Woolgrower’s Companion is historical fiction, set in Australia in 1945 on a remote sheep station. It’s the story of a young woman’s fight to save her father’s farm, when he becomes ill. Kate Dowd, the hero, is somewhat newly married but her remote husband is away fighting in the war. When Kate’s father accepts two Italian prisoners of war to work, unguarded, on their sheep property, Kate must fight to protect herself and Daisy, her 14-year-old domestic, a product of the Aboriginal Domestic Training Home. Kate’s is a story of struggle but essentially a story of hope and of love.
Frankie Love it!! Who was your childhood hero?
Joy I really admired Amelia Earhart. I have always wanted to learn to fly so she had it all. A pioneer, an explorer, a woman. Unfortunate end, of course, but it seemed worth it.
Frankie If you could have one of your books made into a film, which book would it be and who would play your lead character’s?
Joy It’s funny but a lot of readers have told me how cinematic they find The Woolgrower’s Companion. A mate suggested Margot Robbie for Kate, perhaps? She’s from a small town not far from where I was born, so she’ll understand landscape. Luca? I asked my followers on social media and from the nominations, one name stood one: Aldo Mignone. And he looks just perfect for it.
Frankie Oooh, very nice! 😊 Out of all your work, who is your favourite character and why?
Joy I like Kate, the main character in The Woolgrower’s Companion. She grows a lot through the books, makes mistakes, learns sometimes, not always. But she ‘banks’ her learning so se feels stronger over time. I hope she’s inspiring.
Frankie Where doe’s your inspiration for your books come from?
Joy The Woolgrower’s Companion is based very loosely on family stories, especially from my grandmother Gladys Wyndham Mueller-Chateau. She lived almost all of her 102 years on a sheep place in northern New South Wales. She was very like so many bush women: resilient, funny and very proper 😊
Frankie Wow, that is incredible! What three tips would you pass on to an aspiring author?
Joy See writing as an end, a craft that you work at all your life, whether to be at the top of the NYT best seller list (I wish 😉) or just for yourself. But keep at it, working to hone your skills and take pride in that work. There’ll be such reward that comes within from just writing well. Anything else that a writer manages? Like getting a short story published or even getting a publishing deal? Clover.
Frankie Those are brilliant, Thank you! If you were hosting a dinner party what three people would you invite? (They can be real/fictional, from any era)
Joy Wow. Where to start. The Australian poet and activist Oodgeroo Noonuccal (formerly Kath Walker). And another Australian poet Judith Wright (she’s a distant relative of mine, which fact I love, hoping a drop, just one drop, of her outsize talent might have Australian-crawled its way through the gene pool to me :/) Tim Winton would have to be there, of course. We’d all talk writing and landscape, words and land.
Frankie Thank you, Joy for taking the time out of your busy schedule to chat with me today, I have just one more cheeky question, just for fun . . . What is your all-time favourite naughty but nice food?
Joy I love ice-cream. I’m torn between pistachio ice-crema and salted caramel. It’s close, but I think salted caramel wins 😊
Oh, yummy! 😉
Thank you Joy!
About the Book
Kate Dowd’s mother raised her to be a lady but she must put away her white gloves and pearls to help save her family’s sheep farm in New South Wales.
It is 1945, the war drags bitterly on and it feels like the rains will never come again. All the local, able-bodied young men, including the husband Kate barely knows, have enlisted and Kate’s father is struggling with his debts and his wounds from the Great War. He borrows recklessly from the bank and enlists two Italian prisoners of war to live and work on the station.
With their own scars and their defiance, the POWs Luca and Vittorio offer an apparent threat to Kate and Daisy, the family’s young Aboriginal maid. But danger comes from surprising corners and Kate finds herself more drawn to Luca than afraid of him.
Scorned bank managers, snobbish neighbours and distant husbands expect Kate to fail and give up her home but over the course of a dry, desperate year she finds within herself reserves of strength and rebellion that she could never have expected.
The Woolgrower’s Companion is the gripping story of one woman’s fight to save her home and a passionate tribute to Australia’s landscape and its people.
Joy’s debut book The Woolgrowers Companion is to be released on 28th June and can be pre-ordered at Amazon.
Well, what can I say about this book, other than; It is incredibly moving and astoundingly good. Really, this book is really too good for words! The Woolgrowers Companion is Ms Rhoades debut and, my goodness what an introduction, this highly talented author is going to go very far in the world of historical fiction. I love the fact that ‘The Woolgrowers Companion’ is based on the real-life story of one of the author’s ancestors, and at the start of each chapter is a little quote from The Wool Growers Companion which fits in beautifully with the way the story and chapter is going. This is an astonishing, emotionally raw and beautifully written book which handles some very difficult subjects, but Ms Rhoades has covered them with the upmost care.
Set during 1945 in North South Wales, Australia where a young woman, Kate Dowd who has always been brought up to be a proper lady by her later mother has had to cast aside her lady-like gloves and behavior to help on her family farm; Amiens along with her increasing worrisome father; who built up the farm from scratch at the end of WW1. With the war nearing an end, the area is dry with drought and lack of able-bodied men, all gone due to the war which including her husband of six months; Jack. Amiens is the recipient of two Italian POW’s; Luca and Vittorio her father is very grateful for the help and so is Kate that is until she is given one of them to help her in the kitchen garden.
She becomes increasingly drawn to handsome and gentlemanly Luca, he isn’t at all what she expected when they had agreed to take on two POW’s. He is polite, hardworking and kind she knows she shouldn’t take an interest in Luca and he knows that fraternizing with the local girls is punishable with imprisonment and, yet there is a spark between them. To add to Kate’s worries her father has been borrowing money that they can’t possibly pay back, and the horrible bank manager is on the war path to take Amiens from them.
I love the fact that this is predominantly written through Kate’s point of view, she is a very real young woman, that you can relate to instantly. She goes through so many emotions that you share with her as the story goes along; from confusion over her startling feelings for Luca, surprise and anger at what her father has done and sadness that her husband Jack is so far away and that they are on the verge of losing everything her family have worked so hard for.
I will admit that even though I have read a lot of post war novels, this is the first time I have read one set in this setting. In my ignorance, I hadn’t known how the war affected those from Australia or even that Italian POW’s were sent to work on Australian farm’s. The ‘Woolgrowers Companion’ is an eye-opening and thought-provoking story that captures the reader’s imagination and invokes a thirst to learn more.
This book is simply stunning! Ms Rhoades has a rare gift for story-telling, she entices and enthrall’s with her articulate writing and rich, atmospheric detail that transports you from your armchair to 1945 Australia. Her attention to detail is min-blowing, the plot and characters are perfect, the story moves forward in a very natural and at times surprising way, each scene is full of historic details and mood of the times and characters. Rhoades has created a beautiful story that I can guarantee will stay with you long after you close the last page.
There are some very harsh and brutal moments such as racism, bigotry, PTSD and early stages Dementia which, Rhoades deals with it all in a respectful and honest and in a way that leaves a real sense of what these characters are going through. The authors genuine love of the story and her extensive research is evident on every page.
This really is something special, it is a fascinating and moving portrayal of the time from a new author whose career I am looking forward to reading more from.
Magical and beautiful.
This was an ARC copy via the author in exchange for an honest review.
The Woolgrowers Companion is to be released 28th June and can be purchased from Amazon.