The Remarkable Miss Digby by Patricia Donovan
The real-life Jane Digby, the Lady Ellenborough, inspires this compelling historical novel set in Syria, opening in 1853. Jane Digby was a beautiful English aristocrat who decided to live in the Middle East after a string of marriages and affairs, seeking to escape the criticism and gossip of the time and start afresh.
She buys a home in Damascus and yearns to establish an Arabian horse stud. To do so means crossing the Syrian desert taking in the Roman ruins at Palmyra and doing business with the nomadic Bedouins. This is an endeavour that is full of grave risk, especially without a husband to accompany her, but when she informs the British Consul in Damascus that this is what she intends to do, he quickly learns she's a woman who brooks no argument.
Jane Digby has never been conventional, but in Syria she discovers a new world where she can dare to find true passion and love – although cruelty and recklessness are never far away. Will she find happiness with Medjuel – a man of great honour and integrity – and will the Bedouin people accept her as one of their own? Or will Meduel’s rival, the unscrupulous Barrak, prove a permanent barrier to their happiness?
You would never guess this is a debut novel, it is beautifully written and well researched, and it brings to life a place and time that is now tragically lost.
Inspired by the author’s own journey from Damascus to Palmyra prior to the Syrian civil war, this is a compelling and page-turning read that will transport you to a different time and culture, with an unforgettable heroine centre-stage.
Reviewer: Karen McMillan
Mary Egan Publishing