Troubador The Slow Death of Maxwell Carrick

Released: 28/10/2018

ISBN: 9781789015850

eISBN: 9781789012262

Format: Paperback/eBook

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The Slow Death of Maxwell Carrick


Retiring from a life in the media, journalist Martha Nelson finds herself feeling lost and struggles to adapt to her new, quieter life. When a local history group asks her to compile a book about her village, Martha stumbles across the dilapidated ruin of Lapston Manor and her curiosity is piqued. There is talk of an unexpected death, a change of ownership and a mysterious shadow of a woman called Madame Roussell. The journalist in Martha is intrigued.

As World War Two draws to a close, the residents of Lapston are visited by the mysterious and very beautiful Cécile Roussell, who has come from Paris to visit the home of her beloved ‘Henri’. Henry’s family and their companion, Maxwell Carrick, are in awe of her but all is not what it seems and the family is torn apart by the very visitor they welcome to their midst.

The two stories cleverly intertwine as Martha searches for the truth, but what risk will this pose to her own marriage and future happiness?

Jan's first novel, The Seven Letters, touched on the harrowing and savage events of the Liberation of Paris in 1944. It sold quickly and rapidly gained a hundred five star reviews. It is now followed by a second book once again based in The Cotswolds, England and Paris.

The Slow Death of Maxwell Carrick is another dual time novel linking modern day to 1945 as WW2 draws to a close.
Described by top blogger, Anne Williams as; 'An emotional and beautifully told story of treachery and deceit,' the book was launched to over hundred people in Jan's home village where much of the story is set.

Th two books are linked by the theme of strong women and what they will do to survive in the face of adversity.

Slipstream - Book of the Year 2019 Honourable Mention

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The Reviewers

Ox Sylva

Better than The Seven Letters? That would be hard to say. Jan’s first book was an exciting and fast read, it was very hard to put down. As a reader I was fearful for the characters from the harrowing prologue onwards.

The Slow Death of Maxwell Carrick was a rich, emotional journey which left me with the most amazing images in my head. When I finished it I had to sit for a while because I was so invested in the characters. I really cared about all of them and you can’t say that about many books.

I highly recommend this beautifully written book.

by Annette Rainbow

What a great book couldn't put it down.
Just as good, if not better, than The Seven Letters her first book.

by Maureen Bailey

Jan Harvey is becoming quite the mistress of historical fiction.

Meticulously researched, her writing is incredibly evocative and her second novel is a worthy successor to her first, The Seven Letters. If you love a good read but want to learn something along the way then Jan's books are for you.

The Slow Death of Maxwell Carrick is a story of a decaying house and its occupants. It is also a story of treachery and deceit and the intrigue builds beautifully; the author reveals just enough to keep you turning the pages and there are quite a few surprises along the way.

The characters are beautifully written and I found myself particularly drawn towards Alice. I think she could have a whole novel to herself ( I would be the first to buy it of the author ever decided to write it!). The characters are so well written that they stay with you - even now, I often find myself wondering what might have happened to them, which is the biggest compliment I could give a book really.

by Sarah Fitzgerald

This was a dual-time story - by an author whose first book I’d very much enjoyed - where both its threads totally enthralled me. The writing is superb - the characters vivid and real, the relationships authentic, believable and simply fascinating in all their twists and turns. I totally identified with Martha in the modern story - and liked her very much - while Carrick’s borderline unreliable narration in the historical thread is so very well done.

The modern day story captures perfectly that post-retirement feeling of being without purpose, the day-to-day routine, the taking for granted of a long-term relationship, the losing your way, the attraction of the different and exciting despite its danger. But I equally loved the historical thread, and Carrick’s story - the relationships between the really well-drawn characters blown apart by the arrival of Cecile with her mesmerising presence. I also rather liked the fact that we always knew the later history of the house in outline - I really enjoyed the way the story fleshed it out, brought it vividly to life, the house almost becoming another character.

The escalation towards the end of the historical thread was so well wrought, with its dramatic and unexpected climax, a wonderful combination of smoke and mirrors. And the drama is reflected beautifully in the modern story too, with its perfect and satisfying ending. Love and obsession across the years, an emotional and beautifully told story of treachery and deceit - a doomed family, a decaying house and its secret history, and a contemporary story that equally captured both my heart and my imagination. I adored this book.

by Anne Williams

I have just finished "The Slow Death of Maxwell Carrick" and I loved it. I found many points of reference that I absolutely loved. I related so much to the main character, Martha, and how she wanted to know more about the history of her village.

How on earth does this author manage to write what is, effectively, two books at once, flipping between two different time zones? It is an amazing achievement. I do hope the book does well, it certainly deserves so to do.

by Carol Richmond

I thoroughly enjoyed Jan’s first book and this second novel is of the same high quality. Great characters drew me into the story and it became very difficult to put the book down as I wanted to see how the plot moved on. The locations and eras are described very well so that I could visualise the scenes quite clearly and the characters within these scenes, which are hallmarks of an enjoyable read for me.

by Jim Fennell

This is a captivating novel that I had to read in one go

What a fantastic book! I literally couldn't put it down. The story is set in 2 different eras and both described in such detail I could well imagine having walked my dog in both. I love the way the two stories are intertwined and join up mid way through the book.

The characters are so well written they feel real, I can totally relate to Martha and feel I really know her.

If you loved The Seven Letters I guarantee you will love this too, I think The Slow Death Of Maxwell Carrick is even better.

Make sure you clear your diary for this one, you will not want to stop reading.

by Linsey Richmond

Jan Harvey, who's first novel 'The Seven Letters' was a real winner, has now done it again with her second novel ‘The Slow Death of Maxwell Carrick'.

It has an intriguing story line, full of substance and description which made me feel as if I knew the characters. One of whom, Martha, I could relate to, and even considered getting a dog!

I was compelled to read it slowly to savour the anticipation of the next stage of the plot which every turn of the page revealed.

by S Logan

Having read the Seven Letters I had to read Jan Harvey's second book. The writer comes across as an emotional person who understands personalities and is sensitive to situations. Wonderful story of life and people and difficult to put down.

by Janet Warwick

Wow, what a wonderful read this book is, I couldn't put it down and did not want it to end. Set in the Cotswolds during WWII and the modern day, we meet the 2 main characters, Carrick and Martha. Carrick is recuperating at Lapston Manor, suffering from extreme shell shock when he meets an enigmatic and beautiful French woman who will irrevocably change the rest of his life.
Martha has retired as a journalist, at sea and depressed without her career, who grabs with both hands the opportunity to write about the history of her village. During her research, she meets a man who knows quite a bit about Lapston Manor and its former inhabitants and when he takes her on a tour of the dilapidated home and grounds, she is spellbound.
This is the kind of book that keeps you reading most of the night, wanting to know what's next and then regretting it, because it's over much too soon! Wow, I loved it so much, definitely one of my favorite reads of the year. Highly recommended

by Hannelore Cheney

I was told this book was a page turner and it absolutely is. I loved it, what a great novel. It was so fantastic to read that I actually felt I was on something of a personal journey. The dual story line works just as well, if not better, than The Seven Letters. The characters are so believable and well-drawn and Carrick himself is a great character and narrator.

My congratulations to this author, her second novel is a triumph.

by M. Flint

After reading the brilliant The Seven Letters, I didn't think the author could do it again. But she has! The Slow Death of Maxwell Carrick is again set in two timelines and again is full of intrigue and mystery, running side by side with an everyday story of a retired journalist in an Oxfordshire village.


by A. Walsh

Well done Jan Harvey. Another amazing read, could not stop turning the pages I did not want it to end. A must read for everyone.

by Jacqui Roberts

I read Jan Harvey’s first book “The Seven Letters” and absolutely loved it so I knew I had to read this, her second book. Again I was hooked from the first few pages not wanting to put the book down! The story is set in the past, 1940’s and the present. The two stories are brilliantly connected with twists and turns throughout keeping you totally captivated. The characters and the settings are so brilliantly written you find yourself right there knowing and seeing it all for yourself. There are elements of sadness and happiness which make this book an emotional read. I was very sad when I had finished the book as I didn’t want it to end! Jan Harvey is a very talented, emotional writer who never fails to bring her novels to life!

by Claire Bowl

Thank you so much to Netgalley and Matador for giving me the opportunity to read The Slow Death of Maxwell Carrick.

This is a beautifully written book with cleverly intertwined stories that has stayed with me ever since I finished reading. One storyline is set in 1944 and the other in the present day, both based in the same village in the Cotswolds.

The author covers various areas including unrequited love, long-standing marriage and feeling lost but the subject that moved me the most was Carrick’s shellshock. It was approached in a sympathetic and moving way and showed the effects of, what we now know as, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder on its sufferers and their loved ones.

I was entranced by the characters and what was happening to them and I felt genuine emotions as the story unfolded. I will definitely read more by this author, she is a very talented storyteller indeed.

by Joanne Tinkler

Martha is facing something that quite a lot of retirees feel. Her mind is agile, she has been used to a very active job which used her capabilities and now she is adrift. Her husband, although a very good man is staid, he himself a maths teacher who does not understand Martha at all.

A chance advertisement asking for help to set out a book regarding the history of this particular village seems just up Martha's street and she falls into the project with enthusiasm and a lot of vigor. Enthusiasm which is not shared by all of the committee surrounding this project. It also opens up a past story on the history of a manor in the village, whose history has been lost to the present inhabitants. Abandoned and falling into a derelict state, it must have been a grand home for some family and uncovering it step at a time, takes the reader back to the WW2 era and the tragic saga of the Amsherst family.

It is the story of Martha (who also discovers love in the best way possible) at the age of sixty and is in a quandary as to what she should do and the story of Henry, George, Alice and Madame Roussell takes the reader across from England to France to espionage, betrayal, love, distrust and lost opportunities. Very poignant, very tragic but very well told this was a beautiful story to read.

by Mystica Varathapalan

Two compelling stories are cleverly and deftly woven together in this well crafted novel from Jan Harvey.

Newly retired journalist Martha is struggling to cope with her free time, and it almost seems like a godsend when she learns that the local history society is seeking someone to put together a book about the locality. When reviewing the information they have gathered she finds herself repeatedly drawn back to the story of the local grand house, Lapston Manor. Rumors of robberies, mysterious deaths and tragedy surround it , and when she goes to explore the area for herself she meets a local landscape gardener, and finds herself irresistibly drawn to him, despite being a contentedly married woman, Is the shadow of Lapston going to destroy her marriage, and will she be able to uncover the truth about the mysterious French woman who somehow came to own the manor after the war?
This mysterious woman is at the heart of the second story told in the book, the fiance of Henry, deceased heir to Lapston, she visits towards the end of WW2, , while the remaining family are grieving their terrible loss. We are introduced to the titular Maxwell Carrick, family friend and companion since childhood. Desperately drawn to the new arrival he cannot see how he is breaking the heart of Henry's sister Alice, but soon he begins to suspect that something is very very wrong with the mysterious Cecile , and her actions soon prove him to be correct.

What really shines throughout this book is the time, effort and attention to detail that the author has put into creating really believable and interesting characters. Martha really resonates, and her internal struggles with her marriage are powerfully rendered.

Structurally the book alternates chapters from both time lines, and while this was a little jarring at first, particularly in the early chapters narrated from Maxwel'ls perspective, I soon adjusted to the rhythm. It's rare in books like this, that I find myself enjoying both story threads equally, usually I will have a preference for one, but in this case both were equally enthralling,

by Annette Jordan

This book is a slow burn. A thoughtful, mature read for those who like well-drawn characters, and a story that takes you on a gentle journey not a gallop.

I had to adjust my pace and not give up, but the mystery of Madame Roussell provided enough incentive to continue reading. I was surprised when I read the characters ages as I felt they were drawn older, but they were in the midst of war and their lives had changed and plans disrupted.

I was relieved with the ending, which I won’t give away, but the title is a wonderful analogy and wake-up call for the growth of the main character, Martha.

If you are fans of British dramas like Midsomer Murders, Lewis, etc., you’ll like the pace, the engaging and believable characters and visualising Lapston Manor in all its glory.

by Helen Goltz

You know a good book when you can’t put it down, and this is one of them. The characters really come alive in your imagination and the twists and turns of their lives are enthralling. Really excited to follow further novels written by this talented author.

by A C Clement

Unputdownable. I was recommended this book by a friend, I think I held my breath for most of it and didnt go to bed until I had finished it. What a talented new author, cant wait for the next one.

by G Perkins

After the success of 'Seven Letters' I was eagerly awaiting the release of Jan Harvey's second novel 'The Slow Death of Maxwell Carrick' It did not disappoint. Jan had cleverly entwined two story lines, one in wartime Paris and one in present times in rural England. The twists and turns kept me guessing right to the cliff-hanger ending; the characters worked well together and the storyline was intriguing making it hard to put down until the very end.

I anticipate that the next novel from Jan Harvey will be equally engrossing.

by C Halliday

Jan has a great ability to tell a story in two time frames - or rather two stories as the journey the present day 'digger' goes through is just as gripping as the one she is writing about. And the book keeps on giving as I am still thinking about the questions it raises about our human reaction to difficult times...

by Rachel Read

A masterly weaving of the changeable fortunes of the Amsherst family of Lapston Manor during the second World War and a curious journalist today who is determined to unravel the truth behind untimely death and the sad decay of a once great Cotswold house in her own village. The stories are linked by the wonderful Maxwell Carrick who in suffering his slow death and final redemption provides the key to the mysterious Madame Roussell and the horrors of wartime France . Jan goes from strength to strength-think Barbara Pym meets Sebastian Faulks -Jan creates her own world in a totally engaging and believable way and holds our interest beyond the last page.

by Mrs. E. A. Clarke

Retirement doesn't suit Martha Nelson; she is restless and can't settle. A local newspaper advertises for help with a project of a coffee table book on local history. With her background in journalism, she offers her services, but her editing skills are not appreciated by the typically dyed-in-the-wool village committee. Nevertheless, she has become intrigued in the story of the ruined Lapston Manor nearby and especially in the story of its last inhabitants.

In the meantime, going back seventy or so years, we meet Maxwell Carrick (always referred to by his surname) who was one of those inhabitants. Taken in by the then owner of the Manor, he is accepted by Henry, George and Alice as part of the family as they all grow up together. War breaks out and Henry is reported missing presumed dead and Carrick is invalided out of the army with a severe case of stress. It is at this point that the mysterious and enigmatic Cecile Roussell enters their lives and changes everything for them.

This a very accomplished book which I thoroughly enjoyed from start to finish. Carrick is clearly disturbed, almost to the point of dislike; Cecile is an accomplished seductress. It is easy to imagine the impoverished state of the Manor and the glory that it once was. Martha is dogged and determined, though her husband Steve is less than impressed with her preoccupation with the story she is trying to chase down. And then, into her life, comes local horticulturist Rory.

Once I had got used to the hopping to and from Martha's life and Carrick's story, I became completely hooked and found myself really caring for both Martha and the beleaguered Carrick. The prose is very good without being overly descriptive – less is more – and the dialogue totally believable in both eras. Although there is the inevitable 'fortunate coincidences' that are present in all mystery stories (“Well, you're in luck – he happens to live in the next village” sort of thing), there are a number of very unexpected twists which for this reviewer were not implausible.

Though the background to the cover was quite dark, it made me think 'mystery' before I had even started reading it.

Highly recommended

by R. Tearle

I have finally got around to reading this book, which was much better than i had thought. I have previously read Jan Harvey's book 'The Seven Letters' and must say that i enjoyed that book a little more. 'The Slow Death of Maxwell Carrick was well written and whilst i am not fond of reading stories with two different time periods, it did work well with this book. Now looking forward to reading more books by Jan Harvey.

by Jeanette Styles

A clearly well researched and well written book.

I love this author's style with short chapters alternating between two story lines in different time periods.

Well done Jan Harvey

by S Timms

I recently finished The Slow Death of Maxwell Carrick and I can't believe how good it was and how much I loved it. It included all my favourite elements and was beautifully written, interweaving WW2 Paris and modern day Oxfordshire.

I actually thought I was never going to read again before I found this book. It has reawakened the cerebral function to get absorbed by the printed word in story form. In fact, I'm revisiting old friends like Thomas Hardy - after many years. Thank you Jan Harvey for such a thought-provoking and enjoyable epic.

by G E Willis

Maxwell Carrick is a victim of the war, and his death is indeed protracted; Martha, a generation later, is researching the history of a derelict house from Carrick's time.

Once I engaged with the rhythm of the story, I found this book a compulsive read. It races along with its many threads, including love, infidelity, greed and betrayal.

There are so many good things about this book with its well written moments, especially the love element between Martha, Rory and their dogs.

by J. Bywe

A beautifully written book by Jan Harvey. The dual story line was easy to follow with believable characters and a good plot. I really couldn’t put it down. This is Jan Harvey’s second book and having also enjoyed The Seven Letters, I hope there’s a third book coming soon. Highly recommend.

by Yvette Gravestock

What a page-turner! Two stories intertwined across different eras in time. Lots of twists and turns. I couldn’t put this book down!

by Julie Mullins

This dual timeline tale works well, and I very much enjoyed it. Well drawn characters and lovely writing.

by Suzanne Jones

I finished The Slow Death of Maxwell Carrick over a week ago and I’m missing the indulgence of getting home and sneaking off to read a couple of chapters before anyone notices the tea isn’t on! A brilliant read from cover to cover, cleverly interwoven and full of intrigue. I’m still thinking about the characters and how the story might have ended, had the choices made at the cross roads in their lives been different... I highly recommend this book but be prepared to become absorbed!

by Caroline Tilling

Jan Harvey has woven a well-crafted tale of modern relationship struggles with a historic twist.

Martha leaves a high-powered job in publishing to retire to life in a quite Oxfordshire village, with her estimable but slightly dull husband and suffers in effect a bereavement for her working life.

Casting around for something to do with her free time she is introduced to a local history group and her journalistic instinct is awoken. Inheriting a dog also helps relieve some of the ennui that has descended upon her and her life takes a definite upward turn when she comes upon Scooter and more especially his owner, Rory. He introduces her to the dilapidated estate of Lapston Manor and so much more! Lapston is sadly in disrepair and due for development but still has a story to tell and Martha determines to tell it.

We are drawn in to the world of Maxwell Carrick, an erstwhile resident of Lapston Manor towards the end of its inhabitable life. His story is told in between the snippets of Martha's life as she stumbles her way through relationship troubles with her husband, her daughter and her neighbours.

Carrick, damaged mentally and physically by his experiences in World War II finds himself both attracted and repelled by the mysterious Madame Roussell who causes such heartbreak and chaos for Carrick and his adoptive family when she arrives in England to meet her dead fiancé’s family.

Jan conjures up a fine mental picture of the house, both in its modern run down state and brings it to life during its period of occupation in the war era.

The characters are well drawn, and I felt immense sympathy for Martha as she fights between excitement and desire for a younger man and the loyalty and love she feels towards her husband.

The locations are loving described and conjured, the verdant rolling hills of Oxfordshire and the Cotswolds, and the poverty and sadness of wartime Paris.

The final chapters bring the two threads to a clever and unexpected denouement.

If you like a little history, a little mystery and a little romance this is the perfect book to sit with and escape the world.

by Ann Taylor

A real page turner. Two intertwining stories, separated by many decades, both set in a charming Cotswold village. I thoroughly recommend it.

by Antonia Lawless Hearn

As I was reading "The Slow Death" I found myself so involved with Martha and her life that I wanted her to have a happy ending. The fact that that the novel was set in my area of the Cotswolds was entertaining. I have not enjoyed a read like this for many years or found myself so involved in a book.

by Ann Firkins

I was a huge fan of Seven Letters, so naturally expected the authors sequel to be a fantastic read too. I love stories that feature contrasting timelines and events, and the fact that this author is local and her writing mentions many familiar towns and villages is just a bonus for me personally.

Initially I was a bit perplexed as to figuring out who was who and to get a firm grasp on what was happening but shortly thereafter was captivated by the story line and could not put it down (and by that I mean, I read over 300 pages in less than a day!)

As with her other book, I enjoyed the historical setting the most and found it could have been an entire separate book because it was just that interesting on its own. The endings to both settings left me feeling as if I could decide for myself what the ultimate end would be. In this situation, it worked well but I have found with other books for that not to be the case and I needed a more definitive conclusion.

A worthwhile and intriguing read, I’m already looking forward to the authors next publication.

by Laura Ellison

I did not expect to enjoy this book simply because men don't usually choose a book like this which could be classed as historical romance; it surprised me with its hold. There was a good and perfectly plausible plot, easy reading and some lovely turns of phrase; one that caught my eye read: 'it was like owning a jewel and having someone else breathe on it without permission.' Such phrases sum up the great array of feelings pictured in the story. Thoroughly recommended.

by R. Forster

I loved the gentle rural setting of the story and the clever way the two quite different tales in different eras come together without really noticing it. I can see easily envisage this as a TV series.

by Martin Hamer

I absolutely loved this book! It was a page turner from the moment I picked it up.
The descriptive content is to be commended. I particularly enjoyed the characters in the modern day story, eagerly anticipating the outcome of the Martha/Steve/Rory situation, although both time lines worked really well.
Jan Harvey’s obvious love of nature & animal life came through strongly throughout the whole novel.
I really hope her third book follows very soon.........I cannot wait!

by E Nelson

I really enjoyed this Jan Harvey book! She tells a good story with engaging characters that hook you in and keep you guessing to the every end.

by Sue Stevens

I don't think I've ever written review before, but I felt this book was so riveting and well researched that I should start now. Jan Harvey does a great job of writing in two periods of time and I found this book unputdownable; it is a very moving and powerful story and I was so sad to get to the end. I look forward very much to reading more of Jan Harvey's books

by R. Richardson

A brilliant second novel... As good as the first or better - tough call and one I can't make as I enjoyed them both so much.
The story, the characters and the way in which it is told keeps you coming back for more.
The fact it is set around where I live is an added bonus.
Such a sad story but with real emotions reaching out of the pages to touch your heart and tickle your curiosity so that you always want to keep reading and turning the pages.
The type of book that, once completed, leaves you feeling like you have lost something important in your life. The story is so captivating that you feel inside it, so that once it's completed you feel a loss.
Highly recommended.

by Mr Lawrence Payne

I have just finished The Slow Death of Maxwell Carrick and I have to say I loved it. I live in the village where it is set and I recognised so many places which made it more special. I didn’t want this book to end, I loved the characters, particularly Carrick.

by Elaine Ireland

I've just finished both of Jan Harvey’s fabulous books which I bought on my kindle. Wow what can I say.. I was hooked from page 1 and totally engrossed in both books. The first was a hard read at times but so well written. I can’t wait for book 3 and just wonder if Martha and Rory will be in there?

by Pauline Lisk

A wonderful book for lovers of historical fiction. A book that goes back & forth in time. I was immediately drawn into the story and the characters are very well written.

by NetGalley review

Jan Harvey

Jan Harvey was born in Ormskirk, Lancashire in 1961. After a career as a magazine editor/designer working on various business publications she became an author in 2011.

Jan is also an artist working in glass and acrylics. She has exhibited widely with artwork selling worldwide.

Jan lives in The Cotswolds with her husband, Paul and flat coated retriever, Byron,

Jan Harvey

The Slow Death of Maxwell Carrick
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