Published: 28/04/2014
ISBN: 9781783063055
Format: Paperback

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About the Author

John Gerrard (“Jack”) Hennessy was born in India in 1875. His father was a District Inspector in the Indian Police, Central Provinces. Like many children of the time, Jack was sent to England at the a... read more

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A Story of the British Indian Frontier
by John Gerrard Hennessy and Ann Hennessy

Solfatara: A natural volcanic vent, or fumarole, from which sulphur gases and water vapour periodically escape from deep below the surface.

Enter the North West Frontier Provinces (NWFP) of British India at a time of uncertainty and unrest. Between the wars, with Ghandi foreshadowing Independence, there is tension between British and Indian as ancient traditions meet modern politics. A glimpse into police and military life in the NWFP is interwoven with fascinating detail of customs, history, science, religion and philosophy in this captivating novel.

The book was conceived and largely written by John Gerrard Hennessy, who served in the Indian Imperial Police. His personal experience, shrewd insight, evocative description, humour and irony add verisimilitude to a tale of kidnap and adventure. The issues faced by each character carry a powerful message of tolerance and respect that is relevant today.

Brought to light by the author's granddaughter, Solfatara is an enjoyable story for anyone with an interest in British Indian history.

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Just wanted to say how much i enjoyed your book - Solfatara - it's marvellous! I'm not sure how much of the story was missing (moth or rat eaten) or how many unravelled threads you needed to pick up and weave into the overall fabric of the story, but you did do it seamlessly - not a stitch out of place or none that i could tell. What a marvellous achievement. I've been thinking how good it would be for it to have a wider audience (have you thought of approaching a publisher?).

by G Martin

Congratulations on completing such an engaging and important historical novel
The story is a real page turner. It engages the reader from the beginning its fast paced, exciting narrative keeping your attention throughout the novel
On a deeper level it is extremely authentic, providing insight into a culture which is long gone. Descriptions of the British in India between the wars is fascinating. The extremes between the privileged and the local tribes is a reminder of a colonial past There is a casual brutality which is chilling and a further reminder of cultural differences. The main characters reveal a gradual emergence in their understanding this inequality, giving them multi dimensional personalities, thus lifting the story from a straightforward tale to a more complex exploration of themes such as dominance, paternalism and justice.
The conclusion invites the reader to speculate further on conflicts in India which are continuing into the present,

by Patsy Bush

I read your recently book titled Solfatara.
I found it a delight to read and learn of the interesting Indian Frontier history and culture when under British rule.
The use of footnotes and a glossary added greatly to my understanding of the stories message. Your ability to bring together your grandfather1 s partly completed manuscript to a seamless conclusion was excellent.

by Ross Synot

I enjoyed this story of kidnap and search set in the British Indian Frontier but particularly loved the perspectives of the authors whose scientific and anthropologic interests added so much to the story. The culture of the tribes was described so well and helped me understand some of the issues happening today in Pakistan and Afghanistan. I also appreciated that the plot did not end in romantic gush – the characters instead finding real purpose in life and negotiating a relationship that worked for them.

Great first book and hoping there’s a second on the way!

by Cathy McDonald

Set against the backdrop of British Raj, Solfatara is a historical fiction that portrays the conflict between the white settlers and the colonized people of Indian subcontinent. Although this engaging talc only captures a few- weeks period of 200 hundred years of colonization by the British settlers of the Indian Subcontinent, it successfully demonstrates the hierarchical, religious, and cultural differences between the colonizers and the colonized.
The book exposes the privileged class' viewpoint towards the natives. As the story' proceeds, the tension between the two groups becomes intense. The book is truthful in its tone and is devoid of any conscious effort from the writer to sugar-coat the authentic feelings of the white settlers towards the natives emphasizing the white supremacy.
Coming from a colonized and Muslim background myself, the book sometimes challenged my thoughts with its raw details of the colonizers' treatment and judgmental tone towards the subalterns. This happened perhaps because of the genuine representation of the then existing religious, cultural and hierarchical conflicts that put my thoughts constantly in the lime light. Some of these issues in fact still exist in the Indian sub-continent.
The central characters of the book reach a better understanding and a gradual realization of the manipulative nature of British power and attempt to do something noteworthy to strike a balance. This then leads to a conclusion that ushers in a hopeful solution that someday perhaps a bridge or passage can be built between the two polarized cultures.

by F Z Khan

I've just this minute finished your book and wanted to congratulate you on such a wonderful achievement. Apart from being a gripping yarn I found it very moving and the end brought a tear to my eye. And such relevance to today's world.
I do think lots of people should read your book. Well done.

by H Stewart


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