On this page, you can read or download an excerpt from each of my novels, starting with my most recent release.
Excerpt from Small Eden
A boy with his head in the clouds. A man with a head full of dreams.
‘Bravo, Ms Davis, bravo for the life lessons and history embedded in this sensational book!’ “Small Eden” by Jane Davis receives five stars and the “Highly Recommended” award of excellence from The Historical Fiction Company.
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…
‘ Jane Davis has written yet another well-researched and page-turning historical novel, both heart-wrenching and delightful. Highly recommended.’ – Historical Novel Society
‘Life as it is, in all its terrible beauty.’ – Jean Gill, author of Historical Fiction series The Troubadours Quartet
‘With an eye for precise detail balanced by a sweeping imagination, this beautifully constructed book is built on deep foundations.’ – JJ Marsh, author of the Beatrice Stubbs Series
Excerpt from At the Stroke of Nine O’Clock
London 1949. The lives of three very different women are about to collide.
Like most working-class daughters, Caroline Wilby is expected to help support her family. Alone in a strange city, she must grab any opportunity that comes her way. Even if that means putting herself in danger.
Star of the silver screen, Ursula Delancy, has just been abandoned by the man she left her husband for. Already hounded by the press, it won’t be long before she’s making headlines for all the wrong reasons.
Patrice Hawtree was once the most photographed debutante of her generation. Now childless and trapped in a loveless marriage, her plans to secure the future of her ancient family home are about to be jeopardised by her husband’s gambling addiction.
Each believes she has already lost in life, not knowing how far she still has to fall.
Six years later, one cause will reunite them: when a young woman commits a crime of passion and is condemned to hang, remaining silent isn’t an option.
“Why do I feel an affinity with Ruth Ellis? I know how certain facts can be presented in such a way that there is no way to defend yourself. Not without hurting those you love.”
Smash all the Windows
‘A dazzling high wire walk through interwoven strands balanced so carefully you know you’ll never fall.’ Dan Holloway, novelist, poet and spoken word artist
‘Just fricking perfect. An all-round triumph.’ John Hudspith
‘This is an astounding read. I was completely captivated.’ Liz Carr
It has taken conviction to right the wrongs.
It will take courage to learn how to live again.
For the families of the victims of the St Botolph and Old Billingsgate disaster, the undoing of a miscarriage of justice should be a cause for rejoicing. For more than thirteen years, the search for truth has eaten up everything. Marriages, families, health, careers and finances.
Finally, the coroner has ruled that the crowd did not contribute to their own deaths. Finally, now that lies have been unravelled and hypocrisies exposed, they can all get back to their lives.
If only it were that simple.
Tapping into the issues of the day, Davis delivers a highly charged work of metafiction, a compelling testament to the human condition and the healing power of art.
Written with immediacy, style and an overwhelming sense of empathy, Smash all the Windows will be enjoyed by readers of How to Paint a Dead Man by Sarah Hall and How to be Both by Ali Smith.
Excerpt from My Counterfeit Self
‘A compelling portrayal of the bohemian life of an activist poet, the men she loves, and the issues she fights for.’ Eleanor Steele
A rose garden. A woman with white hair. An embossed envelope from the palace.
Lucy Furlong, for services to literature, you are nominated for a New Year’s Honour.
Her hands shake. But it’s not excitement. It’s rage.
For five decades, she’s performed angry poems, attacked government policy on everything from Suez to Trident, chained herself to embassy railings, marched, chanted and held placards high.
Lucy knows who she is. Rebel, activist, word-wielder, thorn in the side of the establishment. Not a national bloody treasure.
Whatever this is – a parting gesture, a final act of revenge, or the cruellest of jokes – it can only be the work of one man. Dominic Marchmont, outspoken literary critic and her on/off lover of fifty years, whose funeral begins in under an hour.
Perhaps, suggests husband Ralph, the invitation isn’t the insult it seems? What if Dominic – the man they both loved – has left her an opportunity?
Watch a video of me reading Chapter One at Waterstones in London’s Covent Garden.
Fact: On the way to this reading a fell down the escalators, an incident I drew on when writing Smash all the Windows.
An Unknown Woman
When you look in the mirror and ask the person staring back, Who are you? do you know the answer?
At the age of forty-six, Anita Hall knows exactly who she is. She has lived with partner Ed for fifteen years and is proud of all they’ve achieved. They go out into the world separately: Ed with one eye on the future in the world of finance; Anita with one foot the past, a curator at Hampton Court Palace. This is the life she has chosen – choices that weren’t open to her mother’s generation – her dream job, equal partnership, freedom from the monotony of parenthood, living mortgage-free in a quirky old house she adores. The future seems knowable and secure.
But then Anita finds herself standing in the middle of the road watching her home and everything inside it burn to the ground. Before she can come to terms with the magnitude of her loss, hairline cracks begin to appear in her perfect relationship. And returning to her childhood home in search of comfort, she stumbles upon the secret that her mother has kept hidden, a taboo so unspeakable it can only be written about.
The reflection in the mirror may look the same. But everything has changed.
‘Authentic and heartbreaking, Davis’s intoxicating new novel is an exploration of identity, not as a fixed point, but as something fragile, shape-shifting and transient.’
Excerpt from An Unchoreographed Life
At six years old, Belinda Brabbage has amassed a wealth of wisdom and secret worries. She knows all the best hiding places in her Worlds End flat, how to zap monsters with her pig-shaped torch and that strangers will tempt you into their cars with offers of Fizzy Fish. Even so, it’s impossible to know how to behave when you don’t really understand who you are. Mummy doesn’t like to be plagued with questions about her family but, when she isn’t concentrating, she lets small nuggets slip, and Belinda collects them all, knowing they are pieces of a complicated jigsaw.
Exhausted single mother Alison hasn’t been able to picture the future for some time. Struggling from day to day, the ultimatums she sets herself for turning her life around slip by. But there is one clock she cannot simply re-set. Deny it though she may, Belinda is growing up. Having stumbled across Alison’s portfolio that mapped her life as a prima ballerina, her daughter already has a clearer idea of who she once was. Soon Belinda will be able to work out for herself who she is – and what she does for a living. With options running out, Alison travels to London’s suburbs to consult a blind clairvoyant, who transports her to a past she feels exiled from. However unlikely they sound, his visions of pelicans and bookshelves appear to herald change. A chance meeting with an affluent couple affords a glimpse of the life Alison desperately wants for her daughter. But can their offer of friendship be trusted?
The First 50 Words
Excerpt from A Funeral for an Owl
Things have changed since Jim Stevens first chose to teach. Rules designed for the protection of children now make all relationships outside the classroom, even those that might benefit a student, taboo. So, what kind of boy might be the one to cause Jim and his colleague Ayisha to put everything on the line? And where will it end?
These Fragile Things
The Eighties was proving a fertile decade for Marian visionaries.
Between 1981 and 1982, Our Lady appeared to a number of college students in Kibeho, south-western Rwanda, showing them rivers of blood later recognised as the foretelling of genocide. At the same time, she was making daily appearances to six Herzegovinian Croat children, drawing thousands of pilgrims to Medugorje, a place barely on the map.
Although attracting devotees from fifty countries, reports of Our Lady of Surbiton appearing daily to Mrs de Menezes and declaring all aborted babies martyrs were flatly rejected by the Vatican as fraud. And close by, in Streatham – still reeling from the Brixton Riots – a series of events is about to be set in motion that will change the lives of fourteen-year old Judy Jones and her family forever.
Delusion, deception, diabolic…or is it possible that her apparitions are authentic? You decide.
Excerpt from I Stopped Time
Turn of the century Brighton. A wide-eyed girl enters Mr Parker’s photographic studio and receives her first lesson about the rising medium that is to shape her life: “Can you think of a really good memory? Perhaps you can see it when you close your eyes. Now think how much better it would be if you could take it out and look at whenever you wanted to!”
2009: Disgraced politician Sir James Hastings has resigned himself to living out his retirement in a secluded Surrey village. He doesn’t react when he learns that the mother who had abandoned him dies at the age of 108: he imagined she had died many years ago. Brought up by his father, a charismatic war-hero turned racing driver, the young James, torn between blaming himself and longing, eventually dismissed her as the ‘villain’ of his childhood. But, when he inherits her life’s work – a photography collection spanning over six decades – he is forced to both confront his past and re-evaluate what he wants from his old age. Assisted by student Jenny Jones, who has recently lost her own mother to cancer, Sir James is persuaded to look at the photographs as if he is seeing through his mother’s eyes, only to discover an extraordinary tale of courage and sacrifice.
“Three. I have three stories,” Lottie Parker tells her solicitor while putting her affairs in order. “But it was Oscar Wilde who said that a story is almost certainly a lie.”
Excerpt from Half-truths and White Lies
When Tom Fellows proclaims that a Venn diagram is a far better way of illustrating modern family ties than a traditional tree, his young daughter Andrea has no idea that he is referring to their own situation. It is only when she loses both parents in a shocking car accident that she takes an interest in her own genealogy and begins to realise that her perfect upbringing was not all that it seemed…