Troubador Pen Pals

Released: 20/12/2016

eISBN: 9781533610539

Format: eBook

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Pen Pals

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Jean Murgatroyd passes away in the northern industrial town of her birth, and her death re-opens old wounds surrounding the ownership of the family business. James Murgatroyd seeks to regain control of Murgatroyd Pens. Brenda Arkwright, the current Managing Director, has worked for the company all of her working life. But Brenda has secrets...

Events from the her past that are now coming back to haunt her. She passes on a monogrammed fountain pen to her daughter, a present from Jean. Both Jean and Brenda know that there is another identical pen, and that the person now in possession of it holds the future of Murgatroyds in their hands...

A heart warming family saga based in a Yorkshire town in the strike torn, class ridden seventies.

Pen Pals has achieved an average of 4.6 on Amazon. Typical comments being:

'A great tale of family drama'
'A great read'
'Strong story'
'Superb read'
'Gripping family drama of time gone by'
'A fabulous read from start to finish

www.martingore.co.uk

4.0 out of 5 stars: 'A great tale of family drama in a close northern community' ByJenMed75 on 5 September 2016

Murgatroyd Pens has long stood as the main employer in the small northern town in which is stands. The name is synonymous with quality and alongside matriarch Jean Murgatroyd, Managing Director Brenda Arkwright has fought long and hard to keep the company in business, the interests of the business and the town the driving factor behind every decision made.

‘Pen Pals’ is s really interesting story. Set in a typical northern industrial town, at the heart of the novel is the strong Murgatroyd family, dominated by patriarch Bill and his wife Jean. All of the key characters are touched by the Murgatroyds in some way, from old school friendships, to overwhelming love, for both the family and the business. It is a saga in the old fashioned sense but it works wonderfully well.

The characters are all well rounded, their flaws shining through as well as their strengths. The story creates a real sense of setting both in time and place. The sense of community typical in Northern towns at this time, the strong sense of family and the stubbornness of the two male Murgatroyd’s leading to an almost inevitable conclusion.

The twist in the tale? Well that is Brenda’s secret and not one I will reveal here. It becomes clear very early on in the book, although it is not revealed until much later the impact this will have on the future of the company or even Brenda and her daughter.

The characters of Jean and Brenda were both very likeable; dominant, charismatic women with a clear love for the company. James is flawed, but no less interesting. Even union man Derek Dawson, as militant as he is in his actions, is a character that you can warm to. I’d probably want to throttle him if he had worked for me, but then I always feel that way near old school union Reps so it shows that the character is written well.

The story is told from a third party point of view, following the main characters as they navigate their day to day, as well as allowing the reader to dip into some more of the past, setting the scene for more recent events. It was a welcome change of pace for me having read a lot of crime and thriller novels of late. It was no less compelling or engaging, the pace reflective of the setting, and I ate it up in a day. Overall, it is an enjoyable trip into the not so distant past. If you like a good family saga set in a good old English town, I would urge you to give this a go.

My thanks to author Martin Gore for the advance copy of ‘Pen Pals’.



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4.0 out of 5 starsA great tale of family drama in a close northern community
ByJenMed75on 5 September 2016
Format: Paperback
Murgatroyd Pens has long stood as the main employer in the small northern town in which is stands. The name is synonymous with quality and alongside matriarch Jean Murgatroyd, Managing Director Brenda Arkwright has fought long and hard to keep the company in business, the interests of the business and the town the driving factor behind every decision made.

When Jean Murgatroyd passes away, it leaves the future of the factory in jeopardy. Jean had been estranged from her son James following an argument back in the 1970s, and had made little attempt to see his mother before she died. James now works for American rival IPCO and Brenda fears that his return, and Jean’s will, may well spell the end of Murgatroyd Pens and the town.

Jean leaves a monogrammed fountain pen to Brenda’s daughter, one of only two in existence and Brenda knows that the time has come to face up to the past. Only Brenda and Jean know the name of the person who holds the second pen, and revealing their identity may well threaten everything that Brenda holds dear. As Brenda has a secret, one which she has never told anyone, not even her daughter, and talking about it now opens up some old wounds which Brenda knows will never truly heal. And when Jean’s will is finally read, Brenda realises that this mystery person holds the key to the future of Murgartroyd’s, a fate she may well have sealed some thirty years earlier.

‘Pen Pals’ is s really interesting story. Set in a typical northern industrial town, at the heart of the novel is the strong Murgatroyd family, dominated by patriarch Bill and his wife Jean. All of the key characters are touched by the Murgatroyds in some way, from old school friendships, to overwhelming love, for both the family and the business. It is a saga in the old fashioned sense but it works wonderfully well.

Set in both the 1970’s and the year 2000, the action starts with the death of Jean Murgatroyd and the revelation by Brenda that she has something she needs to tell her daughter. As she begins to tell her story, the action moves back in time to the early days and the founding of Murgatroyd’s by William Murgatroyd, through to his successor, his son, Bill Murgatroyd. Each generational story is told clearly and fluently, capturing the spirit of the time, from post war era in which the company is founded, to the union dominated 70’s in which most of the earlier action takes place. A good proportion of this is after Bill’s death in 1974, the point at which James sets to make his name in the business.

The constant battle between James and the Union is very believable. I am not (thankfully) old enough to remember this period of pre Thatcher history, when strikes first became a regular occurrence to settle worker disputes, and yet the sense of the constant walk out, and the impact it had upon industry rings very true. With money hungry bosses, and regimented workers, the scene is set for conflict and James’ character is such that this is guaranteed. An overwhelming sense of privilege and entitlement as well as a blinding need to prove he is better than his father, this all comes across in the portrayal of his character.

The characters are all well rounded, their flaws shining through as well as their strengths. The story creates a real sense of setting both in time and place. The sense of community typical in Northern towns at this time, the strong sense of family and the stubbornness of the two male Murgatroyd’s leading to an almost inevitable conclusion.

The twist in the tale? Well that is Brenda’s secret and not one I will reveal here. It becomes clear very early on in the book, although it is not revealed until much later the impact this will have on the future of the company or even Brenda and her daughter.

The characters of Jean and Brenda were both very likeable; dominant, charismatic women with a clear love for the company. James is flawed, but no less interesting. Even union man Derek Dawson, as militant as he is in his actions, is a character that you can warm to. I’d probably want to throttle him if he had worked for me, but then I always feel that way near old school union Reps so it shows that the character is written well.

The story is told from a third party point of view, following the main characters as they navigate their day to day, as well as allowing the reader to dip into some more of the past, setting the scene for more recent events. It was a welcome change of pace for me having read a lot of crime and thriller novels of late. It was no less compelling or engaging, the pace reflective of the setting, and I ate it up in a day. Overall, it is an enjoyable trip into the not so distant past. If you like a good family saga set in a good old English town, I would urge you to give this a go.

My thanks to author Martin Gore for the advance copy of ‘Pen Pals’.

5.0 out of 5 stars: A great read!
ByAnna Carrollon 12 October 2016

This is a family saga in the unusual setting of a northern pen factory, Murgatroyd Pens. On the death of its owner, Jean Murgatroyd, the story of its inheritance unfold. It is a story full of complex characters, conflicts and secrets.

The main events follow the history of the factory from the post war years through the 1970s and the instability resulting from union unrest. There are twists and turns on the way to its conclusion. A great read!

by Amazon Reviews


Superb read., 22 Sept. 2016
By huwster
Verified Purchase

'Excellent. An enthralling tale of a family drama and a pen manufacturing facility through time, much of it amidst the political backdrop of the seventies. A very interesting journey from the post war era to the 21st century.'

by Amazon Review


This is a wonderful book and very well written. It is the saga of the Murgatroyd family with all its warts.

In the early 20th Century, two friends started a pen company; an unlikely setting which in this case works very well for the story. As the years pass, the personalities of the Murgatroyd family and its cohorts make up much of the story. They were an interesting lot and for many years things went smoothly. The business expanded and grew and was successful.

Then the sixties and seventies came and Murgatroyd’s was in trouble. I won’t spell out the details here – you’ll have to read the story for yourself.

In the year 2000 Jean Murgatroyd, the matriarch of the family passed away. Left behind her was dissension and pain.

At first I didn’t know what to make of the book. I had to think about it for a bit before I could write my review. I knew I liked it – a lot – but something was holding me back on giving it my full support. I guess I just had a hard time classifying it. Everything in my life seems to have to fit into a category. How frustrating that can be! I decided to just love the book for what it is and let the rest go.

As the old saying states, “What goes around, comes around.”

I very much look forward to reading more of Martin Gore’s novels and I do so hope he continues to write.

Thank you to Netgalley and Troubador Publishing Limited/Matador and Martin S. Gore for forwarding to me a copy of this most wonderful book to read.

by Joyce Fox (NetGalley reviewer)


PEN PALS by Martin Gore
Reader Reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars An Enjoyable Read
ByAmazon Customeron 15 February 2017
Format: Paperback
Easy to read with believable characters. The twists and turns kept me fully engaged until the end.

5.0 out of 5 stars Easily a full five stars!
ByGrace J Reviewerlady27on 6 February 2017
Format: Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This is a wonderful read, a saga set in a northern town with a mill at the heart of it, set in the 20th century and a worthy read. The cast of characters include both management, staff and their extended families. A really good book to get your teeth into and as satisfying a read as anything by Catherine Cookson or Jeffrey Archer. I am astounded this is Martin Gore's debut novel and shall certainly be looking out for more from him. If you enjoy a good British saga you won't go wrong with this one. A full five stars - easily!

5.0 out of 5 starsI loved the characters and became involved in the storyline wondering ...
ByAmazon Customeron 5 February 2017
Format: Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This book is well written, I loved the characters and became involved in the storyline wondering how it would end
Definitely worth a read

ByChocolatepollyon 19 November 2016
Format: Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Well written with characters you come to care about. Really enjoyed the twists and turns in the plot and was keep engaged till the end.

5.0 out of 5 stars Original and Engaging
ByAmazon Customeron October 31, 2016
Format: Paperback
This is an original and engaging book. I was drawn into the characters in this novel which is set against a background of industrial decline in the North and changes to the industrial landscape. Its a story of some pioneering male entrepreneurs, but even stronger women, and the relationships between them over time. Its a thoroughly enjoyable read.
3.0 out of 5 stars Strong story
ByAmazon Customeron 22 October 2016
Format: Paperback
This is a heart-warming story about coming to terms with past events and how those events impact on the present. Characters are strong and well-written. What the book lacks is punctuation, especially in dialogue. This makes it quite difficult to read in places. If somebody could just go through it putting in all the commas (and changing 'passed' to 'past') it would be a thoroughly recommendable sort of book

5.0 out of 5 stars A fabulous read from start to finish.
ByDiane G.on 17 October 2016
Format: Kindle Edition
I enjoyed this lovely book so much.
I finished the book by reading from 2.00 am to 7.00 am.
I hope the author will write a second book please.

5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
ByAmazon Customeron 17 October 2016
Format: Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Fabulous read! I was hooked right from the start, thoroughly entertaining.
Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
5.0 out of 5 stars A great read!
ByAnna Carrollon 12 October 2016
Format: Paperback
This is a family saga in the unusual setting of a northern pen factory, Murgatroyd Pens. On the death of its owner, Jean Murgatroyd, the story of its inheritance unfolds. It is a story full of complex characters, conflicts and secrets.
The main events follow the history of the factory from the post war years through the 1970s and the instability resulting from union unrest. There are twists and turns on the way to its conclusion. A great read!

5.0 out of 5 stars Superb read.
Byhuwsteron 22 September 2016
Format: Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Excellent. An enthralling tale of a family drama and a pen manufacturing facility through time, much of it amidst the political backdrop of the seventies. A very interesting journey from the post war era to the 21st century.

5.0 out of 5 starsLovely read...had me in tears at the end!
ByRonnieon 14 September 2016
Format: Paperback
What a lovely read! A heartwarming story with intrigue and suspense.


4.0 out of 5 stars Definitely worth a read!
Bymrs l marginsonon 13 September 2016
Format: Paperback|Verified Purchase
Really enjoyed this book. Kept me engaged from start to finish.
Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
4.0 out of 5 stars A great tale of family drama in a close northern community
ByJenMed75on 5 September 2016
Format: Paperback
Murgatroyd Pens has long stood as the main employer in the small northern town in which is stands. The name is synonymous with quality and alongside matriarch Jean Murgatroyd, Managing Director Brenda Arkwright has fought long and hard to keep the company in business, the interests of the business and the town the driving factor behind every decision made.

When Jean Murgatroyd passes away, it leaves the future of the factory in jeopardy. Jean had been estranged from her son James following an argument back in the 1970s, and had made little attempt to see his mother before she died. James now works for American rival IPCO and Brenda fears that his return, and Jean’s will, may well spell the end of Murgatroyd Pens and the town.

Jean leaves a monogrammed fountain pen to Brenda’s daughter, one of only two in existence and Brenda knows that the time has come to face up to the past. Only Brenda and Jean know the name of the person who holds the second pen, and revealing their identity may well threaten everything that Brenda holds dear. As Brenda has a secret, one which she has never told anyone, not even her daughter, and talking about it now opens up some old wounds which Brenda knows will never truly heal. And when Jean’s will is finally read, Brenda realises that this mystery person holds the key to the future of Murgartroyd’s, a fate she may well have sealed some thirty years earlier.

‘Pen Pals’ is s really interesting story. Set in a typical northern industrial town, at the heart of the novel is the strong Murgatroyd family, dominated by patriarch Bill and his wife Jean. All of the key characters are touched by the Murgatroyds in some way, from old school friendships, to overwhelming love, for both the family and the business. It is a saga in the old fashioned sense but it works wonderfully well.

Set in both the 1970’s and the year 2000, the action starts with the death of Jean Murgatroyd and the revelation by Brenda that she has something she needs to tell her daughter. As she begins to tell her story, the action moves back in time to the early days and the founding of Murgatroyd’s by William Murgatroyd, through to his successor, his son, Bill Murgatroyd. Each generational story is told clearly and fluently, capturing the spirit of the time, from post war era in which the company is founded, to the union dominated 70’s in which most of the earlier action takes place. A good proportion of this is after Bill’s death in 1974, the point at which James sets to make his name in the business.

The constant battle between James and the Union is very believable. I am not (thankfully) old enough to remember this period of pre Thatcher history, when strikes first became a regular occurrence to settle worker disputes, and yet the sense of the constant walk out, and the impact it had upon industry rings very true. With money hungry bosses, and regimented workers, the scene is set for conflict and James’ character is such that this is guaranteed. An overwhelming sense of privilege and entitlement as well as a blinding need to prove he is better than his father, this all comes across in the portrayal of his character.

The characters are all well rounded, their flaws shining through as well as their strengths. The story creates a real sense of setting both in time and place. The sense of community typical in Northern towns at this time, the strong sense of family and the stubbornness of the two male Murgatroyd’s leading to an almost inevitable conclusion.

The twist in the tale? Well that is Brenda’s secret and not one I will reveal here. It becomes clear very early on in the book, although it is not revealed until much later the impact this will have on the future of the company or even Brenda and her daughter.

The characters of Jean and Brenda were both very likeable; dominant, charismatic women with a clear love for the company. James is flawed, but no less interesting. Even union man Derek Dawson, as militant as he is in his actions, is a character that you can warm to. I’d probably want to throttle him if he had worked for me, but then I always feel that way near old school union Reps so it shows that the character is written well.

The story is told from a third party point of view, following the main characters as they navigate their day to day, as well as allowing the reader to dip into some more of the past, setting the scene for more recent events. It was a welcome change of pace for me having read a lot of crime and thriller novels of late. It was no less compelling or engaging, the pace reflective of the setting, and I ate it up in a day. Overall, it is an enjoyable trip into the not so distant past. If you like a good family saga set in a good old English town, I would urge you to give this a go.

My thanks to author Martin Gore for the advance copy of ‘Pen Pals’.

5.0 out of 5 stars Gripping family drama from a time gone by
ByJoon 4 September 2016
Format: Paperback
What a treat this book was. I really enjoyed this epic family drama centred around a pen factory in a Yorkshire village. The story is told from a third person omniscient point of view which I found completely refreshing and enabled me to fully grasp the complexities of the intertwined relationships that were unfurled before my eyes.

This is unique storytelling that is from a time gone by. A thoroughly enjoyable read that will keep you gripped until the very end.

I received a free copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
ByAmazon Customeron 23 July 2016
Format: Paperback|Verified Purchase
A good read, especially for those who worked during the late 70's

5.0 out of 5 stars Really enjoyed this book
ByAmazon Customeron 15 July 2016
Format: Paperback|Verified Purchase
Really enjoyed this book, I am normally quite difficult to please when it comes to reading matter, but this book kept my interest right to the end, very very enjoyable.

5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Byold lady Amazon Customeron 29 June 2016
Format: Paperback|Verified Purchase
enthralling and intreesting

4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
ByAmazon Customeron 25 June 2016
Format: Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Brilliant story. I couldn't put it down.

by Amazon Reader Reviews


I am really glad that I have found and read this book. It is one of my favourite genres: family saga spanning several decades. To begin with I was a little surprised that the author prefers telling the story instead of showing, but I soon realised that it was a captivating story with very loveable characters and really interesting plot twists. So it was a really satisfying experience after all.

by Agnes Palasthy


Weaving a family saga, spinning a history of the advent of personal pens, and capturing the spirit of two women driven to success by sheer determination, Martin Gore gives us "Pen Pals." Beginning with Jean Murgatroyd's obvious last moments, the reader is taken back to the first plans of design of the pen for personal use, and on through the company's development. While Jean supports her husband's growing legacy, she learns his most trusted employee is also his lover. But when Bill passes unexpectedly, Jean surprises everyone, including herself- by appointing his mistress as one of the businesses most important Union leaders. A beautiful story of two women who learn to put their personal differences aside and allow a friendship of sorts to blossom while planting the seeds to grow a company that the whole town relies upon and admires. "Pen Pals" draws you in and keeps the one engrossed up until it's final chapter, invested in the business as much as the town and the families it brings together.

by Jodi Mangano


This book gives a wonderful insight into the social, technological and political changes from 1916 through the eyes of the Murgatroyd family and their employees at the pen factory. Bill Murgatroyd is already dead and right at the beginning Jean Murgatroyd dies in a Nursing Home. The family business is then placed in the hands of Brenda who has contributed considerably to the business and encouraged entrepreneurs. Most impressive is how Jean & Brenda had wiped out the stench of capitalism and broken down the social barriers between "them and us." James, the headstrong, ambitious son puts power & revenge before family loyalties and wants to make the company multi-national. Brenda is eager to keep the community together. I was staggered to learn that 10 million days were lost in strikes in 1977 when the Trade Unions were killing the manufacturing base and then Thatcher came along, hated the power of the unions and now there's no industry left in the north. The characters were fleshed out well although I thought there would have been a good story in the Bill-Jean-Brenda era instead of skimming over it with narrative and retrospective anecdotes. Thank you to NetGalley and the publishers.

by Sheila Easson


Martin S Gore

I am a 59 year old Accountant who semi-retired to explore my love of creative writing. In my career I held Board level jobs for over twenty five years, in private, public and third sector organisations.

I was born in Coventry, a city then dominated by the car industry and high volume manufacturing.

When I was nine year’s old I told my long suffering mother that as I liked English composition and drama I was going to be a Playwright. She told me that I should work hard at school and get a proper job. She was right of course.

I started as an Office Junior at Jaguar in 1973 at eleven pounds sixty four a week. I thus grew up in the strike torn, class divided seventies and thus witnessed at first hand the damage done by politically driven Trade Unions and ineffectual class ridden management. This division wiped out much of UK manufacturing which is in my view the root cause of the austerity we know today. I thought it important to capture this in a fiction novel, and Pen Pals is the result.

The opportunity to rekindle my interest in writing came in 2009, when I wrote my first pantomime, Cinderella, for my home group, the Walkington Pantomime Players. I have now written eight. I love theatre, particularly musical theatre, and completed the Hull Truck Theatre Playwrite course in 2010. My first play, a comedy called He's Behind You, had its first highly successful showing in January 2016, so I intend to move forward in all three creative areas.

Pen Pals is my first novel, but a second, The Road to Cromer Pier, will be released by the summer of 2017.

I’m an old fashioned writer I guess. I want you to laugh and to cry. I want you to feel that my stories have a beginning, a middle, and a satisfactory ending. When I write I seem to disappear into another world, and become completely self absorbed. It’s a great feeling.

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