Guest post: Adrienne Chinn, The English Wife

The English Wife

The English Wife Hi Res Cover

Today on the blog, I’m delighted to be sharing a guest post from Adrienne Chinn, talking about the inspirations behind Tippy’s Tickle, a key location in her story… First, here’s the details of her book:

The English Wife

Two women, a world apart.

A secret waiting to be discovered…

VE Day 1945: As victory bells ring out across the country, war bride Ellie Burgess’ happiness is overshadowed by grief. Her charismatic Newfoundlander husband Thomas is still missing in action.

Until a letter arrives explaining Thomas is back at home on the other side of the Atlantic recovering from his injuries.

Travelling to a distant country to live with a man she barely knows is the bravest thing Ellie has ever had to do. But nothing can prepare her for the harsh realities of her new home…

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September 11th 2001: Sophie Parry is on a plane to New York on the most tragic day in the city’s history. While the world watches the news in horror, Sophie’s flight is rerouted to a tiny town in Newfoundland and she is forced to seek refuge with her estranged aunt Ellie.

Determined to discover what it was that forced her family apart all those years ago, newfound secrets may change her life forever…

This is a timeless story of love, sacrifice and resilience perfect for fans of Lorna Cook and Gill Paul.

Purchase Links

Talking inspiration

In The English Wife, the remote outport village of Tippy’s Tickle on the northern coast of Newfoundland is the main location for Sophie’s story in 2001 and 2010. It’s also the place that Ellie moves to as Thomas Parsons’ English war bride in 1946. When I was researching Newfoundland locations in the spring of 2019, I incorporated inspiration from several towns, lighthouses, houses and shops to create the fictional fishing village of Tippy’s Tickle.

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A tickle, in Newfoundland English, is a narrow, salt-water strait such as an entrance to a harbour or between islands, or an island and the mainland, and Tippy is the surname of the sailor who’d founded the outport back in the 1700s. Newfoundland place names are a joy in themselves – travel around The Rock (as the Newfoundlanders refer to their home), and you’ll find Joe Batts’ Arm, Heart’s Content, Conception Bay, Happy Adventure, Blow Me Down, Come By Chance, the Avalon Peninsula, Fogo, and yes, even Dildo.

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Driving along coastal roads, rather than the Trans Canada Highway, is what you need to do if you want to find these hidden gems. From the red and white striped lighthouse at Bonavista, where I happily watched at least twenty pods of whales spouting; and the red lighthouse at Twillingate (the inspiration for the lighthouse at Seal Point); to the multi-coloured wooden houses and blood-red painted fishing stages (one-room buildings constructed on stilts on the edge of the ocean used to store boats and fish) in towns like Trinity, Salvage, Greenspond, and Newtown; to the long, sandy beaches of Eastport and Lumsden; and the modern artists’ retreats on the island of Fogo, inspiration was easy to come by. Tippy’s Tickle is an amalgamation of all these wonderful places, and the church on the spit of land at Newtown is exactly how I see the church in Tippy’s Tickle.

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In Newtown, the old captain’s grand Victorian house perched on a rock on the edge of the North Atlantic, where the next land you’ll hit due north is Greenland, was perfect for Ellie’s house Kittwake.  J. Kean’s general store in Badger’s Quay, now owned and run by artist Janet Davis and her husband, provided me with the perfect setting for Florie’s and Ellie’s general store.

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May and early June is iceberg season in Newfoundland, where the icebergs from Greenland float down and cluster around the island before they melt as they head into warmer waters. They are a thrill to behold, and you’ll get used to seeing them, some as big as ocean liners, floating all around the island. You can even join an iceberg hunting boat tour, where you’ll be given thermal snowsuits, caps, boots and mittens to wear for your journey in a rubber Kodiak boat out into the North Atlantic in search of the really huge icebergs and whales. I did this, and highly recommend it. Speaking of whales, they start coming around the coast and into the tickles and bays in early June and will be around through to mid-September. You’ll find lots of places to join whale-watching tours. The ocean around Newfoundland teams with humpbacks, sperm whales, minke, finback, orcas, as well as dolphins, porpoises, walruses and seals.

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Newfoundland is a special place, and Newfoundlanders are justly proud to call it their home. Anyone not blessed to be born on The Rock is called a “Come From Away”, but join Screech-In (Screech dark rum is Newfoundland’s favourite liquor) and kiss a cod, and you can become an honorary Newfoundlander too.

About Adrienne

The English Wife Author Photo

Adrienne Chinn was born in Grand Falls, Newfoundland, grew up in Quebec, and eventually made her way to London, England after a career as a journalist. In England she worked as a TV and film researcher before embarking on a career as an interior designer, lecturer, and writer. When not up a ladder or at the computer, she can usually be found rummaging through flea markets or haggling in the Marrakech souk. Her second novel, The English Wife — a timeslip story set in World War II England and contemporary Newfoundland — is published in June 2020. Her debut novel, The Lost Letter from Morocco, was published by Avon Books UK in 2019. She is currently writing her third novel, The Photographer’s Daughters, the first of a 3-book series, to be published in 2021.

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