NOVEL CHARTS WAR AT SEA
Review By JACK TROUGHTON for the Round Town News
The big guns of the British War Cabinet are grumbling while the country’s distracted leader moons over a society ‘gal’ less than half his age.
“Big Ben sounds the outbreak of the Great War in August 1914 and people take to the streets, prepared to do their bit for King and Country – blissfully unaware of the toll on land, sea and air that will follow.
William Daysh’s debut ‘factional’ novel Over By Christmas’ charts the first 18 months of the war to end all wars, and as mighty European empires clash, more unusually looks at the conflict at sea and the ships and crews of the Royal Navy. The book examines the bickering on high, the well-documented love affair of family man Prime Minister Asquith that left him heartbroken, and how the decisions taken by leaders affected the lives of ordinary serviceman.
Meticulously researched, the history is very real, while the Costa Blanca based author’s fictional characters are interwoven to spin a tale of brutal sea battles and life and loves at home.
Central to the story are characters George Royal, a young RN gunner, his naval gunnery officer father Jack, and mother Emily, as well as friends and loves in Gosport, Hants. William, who spent two years researching the factual background of Over By Christmas, faced his own battle to get the novel into print after completing the work in 1998. Now living in Pedreguer, he told Round Town News: ‘I got a bit dejected with the rejections from agents and publishers and for a time it was stuck in the sock drawer.’
‘When I came to live out here, it was pointed out that publisher Libros International promised to read everything it was sent and so I thought it was worth a shot.’ William first sent a chapter and was delighted the publisher wanted more – finally putting Over By Christmas on the shelves.
And he said he was pleased that the book, with its political intrigue, mighty battles, and tangled love lives set against a society almost a hundred years ago was winning a wide readership.
‘Women have written back to me and said they love it. It appeals to guys and girls – even my 22-year-old son said he enjoyed it,’ added the writer. ‘It had to be painstakingly researched because it is factual – but there are fictional characters to carry the story through, and there is the naval background and also Downing Street in it. Decisions are taken in high places and filter down. At ship level, you have to go along with it and do or die, depending on those orders.’
William was well placed to write about life at sea after a career with the Fleet Air Arm. Primarily an aircraft engineer officer, he also flew ‘a lot’ and was a qualified Ship’s Diving Officer.
The Daysh family also have traditional links to the Senior Service. Over By Christmas was dedicated to his father, Lt Charles George Daysh RN, whose long naval service inspired a book about the Royal Navy of WW1 – and, amongst others, to his son Mark, who served aboard a British warship during the 1982 Falklands war.
And the author is currently busy undertaking promotional duty for the book and hard at work penning a thriller. He then plans to return to the Great War and the Royal family in a sequel to Over By Christmas.”
Jack Troughton, 19 September 2008