Crossed Bones, by Jane Johnson

August 22, 2008

In the seventeenth and eighteenth century Barbary corsair raids were a common occurrence on the south coasts of England. It is estimated that at one time more than 3000 British citizens were held in the prisons of SalĂ© in Morocco; these raiders were motivated to capture Christian slaves and goods in the name of Islam, just as the Knights Templar captured Muslim slaves and treasure in the name of Christianity. Author Jane Johnson uses this bit history as the basis for her novel, Crossed Bones. In modern day England, Cornish craftswoman Julia Lovat is given a seventeenth-century book of embroidery patterns as a consolation prize when her lover dumps her. Although broken-hearted, Julia is spellbound when she discovers a journal in tiny handwriting between the patterns; the diary of a young woman of Penzance in Cornwall named Catherine Anne Tregana, who became a captive slave to the “Sallee Rovers”, the corsairs of Sale. As Julia follows Catherine’s journey to Morocco and self-discovery, she follows her own journey – she is pursued by her ex-lover who realizes the book’s material worth, and reconnects with her oldest friends as she races to find out if Catherine’s story is true. What she finds are connections to her own past – and to her future. Part historical fiction, part mystery, part ghost story, Crossed Bones is a fascinating story about a little-known era in British and Moroccan history.
Click here to find it in the SPL catalogue.


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