MORE to BROWSE - Pages that might be of Interest

Thursday 20 October 2022

My Coffee Pot Guest: Jane Davis Small Eden

Welcome to my Blog!
Wander through wonderful worlds
real and fictional,
meet interesting people,
visit exciting places
and find a few good books
to enjoy along the way!

About the Book

A boy with his head in the clouds. A man with a head full of dreams.  

1884. The symptoms of scarlet fever are easily mistaken for teething, as Robert Cooke and his pregnant wife Freya discover at the cost of their two infant sons. Freya immediately isolates for the safety of their unborn child. Cut off from each other, there is no opportunity for husband and wife to teach each other the language of their loss. By the time they meet again, the subject is taboo. But unspoken grief is a dangerous enemy. It bides its time.

A decade later and now a successful businessman, Robert decides to create a pleasure garden in memory of his sons, in the very same place he found refuge as a boy – a disused chalk quarry in Surrey’s Carshalton. But instead of sharing his vision with his wife, he widens the gulf between them by keeping her in the dark. It is another woman who translates his dreams. An obscure yet talented artist called Florence Hoddy, who lives alone with her unmarried brother, painting only what she sees from her window… 

Buy Links:

Barnes and Noble: 


About Jane Davis

Hailed by The Bookseller as ‘One to Watch’, Jane Davis writes thought-provoking literary page turners.

She spent her twenties and the first half of her thirties chasing promotions in the business world but, frustrated by the lack of a creative outlet, she turned to writing.

Her first novel, 'Half-Truths and White Lies', won a national award established with the aim of finding the next Joanne Harris. Further recognition followed in 2016 with 'An Unknown Woman' being named Self-Published Book of the Year by Writing Magazine/the David St John Thomas Charitable Trust, as well as being shortlisted in the IAN Awards, and in 2019 with 'Smash all the Windows' winning the inaugural Selfies Book Award. Her novel, 'At the Stroke of Nine O’Clock' was featured by The Lady Magazine as one of their favourite books set in the 1950s, selected as a Historical Novel Society Editor's Choice, and shortlisted for the Selfies Book Awards 2021.

Interested in how people behave under pressure, Jane introduces her characters when they are in highly volatile situations and then, in her words, she throws them to the lions. The themes she explores are diverse, ranging from pioneering female photographers, to relatives seeking justice for the victims of a fictional disaster.

Jane Davis lives in Carshalton, Surrey, in what was originally the ticket office for a Victorian pleasure gardens, known locally as ‘the gingerbread house’. Her house frequently features in her fiction. In fact, she burnt it to the ground in the opening chapter of 'An Unknown Woman'. In her latest release, Small Eden, she asks the question why one man would choose to open a pleasure gardens at a time when so many others were facing bankruptcy?

When she isn’t writing, you may spot Jane disappearing up the side of a mountain with a camera in hand.

My Review

What a superb read! A story of Victorian lives, ideas and ideals; of hidden feelings of dreams to dream and of secrets never to be told, but kept silent and shut away forever. It is a story of emotion and grief, of the social taboo, of not giving or receiving comfort - the 'Stiff Upper Lip' that the Victorians, on the edge of becoming Edwardians, so eagerly and unbendingly adhered to.

All of which make this book sound terribly depressing, but it isn't. It is a skilfully and beautifully written portrait of a family surviving loss, and is a superb read.

Robert Cooke wants to build a pleasure garden, a Small Eden, a means to honour, and distract from the loss of his two sons. The garden is a dream of his, one he is determined to fulfil. Whatever the cost financially and emotionally. His dream is supported by another family, Mr and Mrs Reynolds, and John and Gerrard, their sons.

Mrs Cooke, Freya, however, is not so enthusiastic. She conforms to social etiquette and expectation while resenting her husband, for she blames him for the deaths of their sons. Their two daughters, Ida and Estelle, add tension into the family, for Estelle also resents her father, whilst Ida adores him. And when a disabled artist, Miss Hoddy, begins to intrude into the family, more than resentment emerges. Miss Hoddy is a joy to everyone except Freya, for jealousy is sparked... and then the money starts to drain away.

Ms Davis explores how people react, how their minds and emotions work and cope with difficulties - what made these Victorian characters 'tick'. Her writing is skilled, her insight incredible, her detail impeccable and her storytelling amazing. 

The book is a wonderful tale. Do read it.

Helen Hollick

Jane's Social Media Links:


Twitter Handles: @janedavisauthor @cathiedunn
Hashtags: #HistoricalFiction #TheCoffeePotBookClub #BlogTour

Tour Schedule:

this book was also reviewed by Discovering Diamonds
and awarded the accolade of Reviewer's Choice

*** *** 

You might also like ... books written by Helen Hollick 


Amazon Author Page: 

The Jan Christopher Cosy Mysteries
set in the 1970s

buy from Amazon

* * *
the events that led to 1066
the Battle of Hastings

1066 - the events that led to the
Battle of Hastings
from Amazon
Harold the King  (UK edition)
I Am The Chosen King (US/Canada edition)
1066 Turned Upside Down -
an anthology of alternative stories

* * *

Plus many more...
fiction, non-fiction


  1. Thank you so much for hosting Jane Davis today, and for your wonderful review. Much appreciated. xx


Thank you for leaving a comment - it should appear soon. If you are having problems, contact me on author AT helenhollick DOT net and I will post your comment for you. That said ...SPAMMERS or rudeness will be composted or turned into toads.