Troubador Middle Watch

Released: 01/04/2012

ISBN: 9781780881164

Format: Paperback

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Middle Watch


Middle Watch is a time when a man alone on a lighthouse in those wee small hours feels he’s the only person in the world. A man awake and alone in the darkness of the night has time to think, and sometimes those thoughts turn towards revenge and hate.

Bridie O’Neill was taken in as a baby by Dad Joe, whom she adores as if he were her real father. Unfortunately, Joe is away at sea most of the time and Bridie has grown up under the thumb of his mean-spirited wife, Millie, and her two bullying sons. The only joy in her life comes from the beautiful coastline near their home and Joe’s occasional visits.

When things come to a head between Bridie and Millie, Joe realises he needs to take Bridie - and himself - away from his poisonous wife. He starts a job as a lighthouse keeper at Longships Light. Bridie’s life is transformed by this new life close to the wild Cornish seas. There she meets the dark, brooding Ryan, son of the Principal Keeper. The two young people fall deeply in love with one another.

But Joe’s family are not ready to let Bridie go. She is haunted by the idea that Millie will come after her, and Joe’s older son Jim is starting to look at Bridie with a most unbrotherly interest. Wanting to escape the emotional turmoil and prove herself, Bridie sets out on her own to find work in London – but her actions set forth a chain of events that will end in tragedy on a lonely lighthouse amongst the crashing waves of the sea…

Loretta Proctor was born in Cairo, Egypt to an English father and Greek mother. She won prizes in the 1970s for essays and plays, then wrote specialised articles. Now retired to Malvern, she delights in story telling, writes poetry and is pleased to be a distant relation of Elizabeth Barrett-Browning.

The Long Shadow is to be translated and published by in autumn 2014

Reviews for Dying Phoenix

The Dying Phoenix is a very worthy sequel to Loretta Proctor's The Long Shadow. I am pleased I read them in the 'right' order, as, knowing what I knew already about Nina's spirited parents and grandparents, I was keen to find out how life would treat her.
Richard Devereux

The coup is expertly described. We experience one of the characters waking up as the tanks rumble into Athens then going out onto the streets to investigate. Dying Phoenix also stands as a salute to the courage of the idealists in the face of terrible repression and cruelty. The rape and torture is shocking, a secret horror that is ongoing as normal life continues for many Greek citizens.

The details of life in late nineteen sixties London and Greece add another layer of depth to the writing. I cannot be a plot spoiler but for me Loretta Proctor's writing reached an extra powerful level in the scenes in the garage in Thessaloniki. Amazing passion and intensity.
Mary Cade

The talk on my book, The Long Shadow at the American College of Thessaloniki on May 22nd and the creative writing workshop for the students went very well indeed and I thoroughly enjoyed it! The weather was great, the company delightful. I feel very honoured to have been asked as this book is close to my heart.

The new paperback edition of The Long Shadow is now out. It is already available as a Kindle edition on Amazon. Set in Salonika, Greece it tells the little known story of the Eastern campaign, it will be well in time to usher in the centenary of WW1 in 2014

Reviews for The Long Shadow

I have just finished reading this for the second time and know I shall return to it again and again because of its strong, involving characters and the wonderful story they have to tell.

Nothing is more intriguing than a hidden diary, and when Andrew finds his mother's and begins to read it, a dramatic picture of her life in Salonika during the first world war enfolds. Dorothy's love story is touching and beautifully told, yet this is far more than a love story. The sights, smells, triumphs and tragedies of World War One are described so vividly and knowledgably we feel we are experiencing them first hand.

I've now enjoyed several books from the pen of this author, but this is her best yet.

It's a novel to treasure.
Peter McGarry

This has been one of the best books I have ever read. What a beautiful story, wonderful characters, history, adventure. Simply fabulous.
Harry E. Carter

This is not a book about Greece. It not a book about war but it is a book about people, the situations they find themselves in; and above all about their loves. This skilfully crafted novel is in two parts, the first set in England and the second, mainly in Greece. The protagonist is Andrew who is shocked by the revelations in his mother's diary which he secretly reads. He discovers that his father is Greek and he vows to meet him. The second part of the novel shows Andrew in his quest and eventual success. Loretta Proctor, half Greek herself, has a vast knowledge and understanding of 20th century Greek history, especially as it relates to the two world wars and she uses this with great skill as a backdrop to Andrew's story. She brings out the horrors of war in Greece. She writes the diary as if using the language of the day and this gives the mother's account an authenticity and immediacy which is strong and real. I found the book very moving, especially the relationship between Andrew and his father. Being unfamiliar with the history, I found it fascinating, almost a distraction at times! This is a beautiful story and the second of Loretta Proctor's books I have read. It cries out for a sequel!
Gordon Thomas

Middle Watch has as a background the stormy seas and lighthouses around Britain. Researching this was most interesting. Virtually all of the lighthouses are now powered by electricity and no longer manned. The end of an era of interesting men who worked them. Middle Watch is set in the 1950's when the lights were still manned but on the verge of change.
I became fascinated by the life on these lonely places and with the kind of people who took care of these structures with such pride and loving care, thus saving the lives of so many seamen and ships who would have foundered on the rocky coasts.
Bridie's tale is passionate and she is torn by her feeling for the two men in her life. But perhaps Nature is her true love!

The Crimson Bed has a Pre-Raphaelite background and tells of the inner conflicts, secret lives and dramas of two artist friends,and the beautiful women they paint and worship like goddesses. I felt inspired to write a novel in Victorian times after reading some of the works of Sarah Waters. A life-long admirer of Pre-Raphaelite work, I now belong to the Pre-Raphaelite Society which meets in Birmingham. If you haven't yet visited St. Philip's Cathedral in Birmingham,with it's marvellous stained glass windows by Burne Jones, then do go! You are in for a special experience, especially when the light pours through those vivid reds and blues. A different concept of angels altogether,far more passionate and fiery!
Recently I visited the John Waterhouse exhibition at The Royal Academy. One of his lesser known pictures will feature on my book cover. The picture here shows the original with the skull which was later painted out in the 1950's. The cover on my book shows the painted out image taken by Christie's when the painting came up for sale much later on. The original is now in a private collection in Mexico.
For more on this strange story of the painting take a look at my website.

You can contact me on [email protected]
And drop in and take a look at my blog: It's all Greek for Me
or my website

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Female First Magazine

Frank, unpretentious, lucid, with the feel almost of a diary yet so carried forward by the fluid style that it reads at a pace. The early pages encapsulate so much of the back story without needing to linger or digress at the expense of the narrative so that I felt immediately involved and on board with the candid first person style.

The facts need no dressing as we witness the emotional distance between the narrator, Bridie, who has lost her real father to be adopted by the good "Dad Joe" as she affectionately calls her foster father, but who also passes into the hands of Joe's resentful and jealous wife, Millie, named with something far affection as "Mean" Millie. Millie is consumed with jealousy because Bridie's love for her adoptive 'Dad', the angst clear from Millie's nickname for the child in her care "Little Miss Nobody". Bridie's feeling of being unwanted is intensified when Mean Millie's son, Andy, not only bullies Bridie but seems almost to get his mother's approval in doing so.

We have to remember that this is not just domestic discord, for Bridie has early lost both her mother and her father while the world in which she might have found sanctuary is, with the exception of Dad Joe, a cauldron of jealousy, resentment and rejection - "Thank God, you're not mine... I'd be ashamed to claim you," Mean Millie reminds the hapless child. The effect on Bridie is simply - yet quite beautifully - expressed when we view her, alone with Dad Joe after he has returned from sea and they go down to the seashore together.

Of the incessant ebb and flow, Bridie finds the sea "Frightening, majestic, terrible, it never stopped, it was never still, yet looking over its vastness, I felt stillness in my soul. It was a paradox I would never understand." Nor shall I, but at least Bridie enjoyed that stillness and brings it closer to the reader.

Themes universal, and we feel the echo of the author's opening quote from Wordsworth's Ode: Intimations of Immortality, but the treatment bears the stamp of a genuinely individual writer who carries conviction with her sheer sincerity of observation and absence of any false sentiment - the whole making a quiet impact rather than a hollow or deafening ring that might have announced itself, like an unfortunate marriage getting too close to a church bell.

And so the need for a truer sense of identity and bonding, first as a daughter to her surrogate Dad, Joe, and then to her lover, Ryan, who is so often distanced from her as he takes up "his lonely sojourn on a lighthouse far from humanity". Bridie's isolation is gradually built and is the more powerfully made when the lighthouse once again visits upon Bridie's life a deeper and more painful loss.

The narrative is masterfully condensed so that the reader can be propelled forward in time often with a few very judicious brush strokes, events nevertheless seamlessly pieced together. In this way, while absorbed by the dialogue in which, from the beginning, we see the conflicts for Bridie between she and those who resent her, and by which Dad Joe deftly relates to Bridie the circumstances of her early losses, we can still easily glean the wood for the trees as promised in the synopsis, without ever quite knowing how the ending is going to come, until, with an emotional crescendo, it does.

The power of the story, throughout, comes from a sincerity unadorned.

by Raymond Nickford - author of Mister Kreasey's Demon and other psychological suspense

"Wind and waves and the cruel sea. Some days the waves come crashing almost over the top of the light. You get used to the constant drumming of it all, drumming away at the sides like it was asking to come in. it's a living, breathing being is the sea and we have to treat it like one, take note of what it's trying to say, skirt round its moods and furies and storms. Then be peaceful with it when it's feeling content and happy and still as glass."

This stunning, satisfying, profoundly moving, unforgettable novel reminded me a bit of Du Maurier's "Rebecca..." The protagonist is a young woman we meet in childhood and follow throughout young adulthood. Her story is told in first person; like "Rebecca," there is another shadowy, otherworldly character---well, two, really: the sea and lighthouses. Both come to life along with Bridie O'Neill, and create a magical setting that creeps out of the pages and surrounds you, bringing hints of saltwater and sea spray, of broken ships and beams of light, of primordial struggles, the hypnotizing sound of the foghorn, the unforgiving remoteness, the love and endlessly mesmerizing fascination of the ocean.

After the sea grabs you, Middle Watch then throws two fierce, uncompromising, unforgiving and mesmerizing men into the mix---two men who will go to almost any lengths to win the heart of Bridie O'Neill. (One will truly go to any lengths.) This deepens the tale, bringing in the human elements of jealousy, possession, and violence.

Other reviewers here have expertly covered the story and plot. I wanted to add some of the phrases and segments that moved me, but Amazon refused to post my review that way. I had to delete most of them. Goodreads, however, allowed me to post my review as I wanted.

One last comment about Middle Watch. There is a part near the end I would call controversial. I had a hard time with it. It took reflection, time, and contemplation to put it in perspective, to remember the long history between the two characters involved. And it shows the courage of the author, who has chosen to not shy away from reality, who chose not to create a fairytale, stereotypical romance but a raw, real, ripping kind of truth---the only kind of truth the sea will accept.

"Wouldn't it just be simpler to give in and go along with Ryan, flow with the current like an unmoored boat? But I couldn't. Some spirit of self preservation made me feel a desperate need to flow against it, to swim upstream like a salmon and find my way back to my own true self."


Love in this book is like a beam from a lighthouse shining through the darkness surrounding young Bridie, a sign of hope to a child suffering from the cruelty of Mean Millie. Having experienced the domineering behaviour of tyrannical adults in the course of my own childhoood I found this to be an engrossing read. The solutions to Bridie's problems are never simple and I don't want to give away any of the twists and turns of the events of Bridie's life - this is a truthfully told and therefore complex love story. Living in the centre of a large city myself I fully appreciated being transported to the tops of cliffs,or down onto beaches, gazing out to sea on both sunny and stormy days. And I thoroughly enjoyed all the details of 1950's life, Bridie's cooking and housekeeping and other things that I don't want to reveal in case of being a plot spoiler. A lighthouse can be a place of joy and a haven but also .... well.... I'll leave you to find out what happens.

by Mary Cade

Loretta Proctor

I was born in Cairo, Egypt and came to Britain during a very cold winter. Quite a contrast to the heat of Cairo and my first ever view of snow! My father was from England and met my mother in Athens, Greece during the Second World War.

Nature plays a large part in my descriptive writing but I also love art, poetry and images, mysterious ruined buildings, and the great, passionate love stories about complex and deep feeling women like Jane Eyre, Emma Bovary, Anna Karenina...

In 1999, I and my husband, John, moved from London to the countryside. I had won some prizes and had poetry and articles published earlier on but abandoned writing for many years for varied reasons; now there was suddenly time to write again.

Loretta Proctor at Goldsboro Bookstore

The Long Shadow, a mosque in Salonika
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