Take Two Characters. Jane Cable Chooses Two of Her Favourite Fictional People.

Posted on 26th October, 2018

This week I am delighted to welcome my friend Jane Cable to my blog. Jane's novels include an intriging element of mystery and suspense. The first book of hers that I read was Another You and it kept me thinking right to the end. 


Jane's first novel, The Cheesemaker's House, was a finalist in the Alan Titchmarsh Show's People's Novelist competition and won Words for the Wounded's independent book of the year award in 2015; and The Faerie Tree tells of a couple who meet twenty years after a brief affair only to discover that their memories of it are completely different.


Jane recently signed with Sapere Books, who will publish two titles next year.


Jane is here today to contribute to the Take Two Characters series, which Heidi Swain started off in the previous blog. By the way, thanks to all of you who said on Twitter how much you like the idea behind this series.


Let's see what Jane has to say.






After thinking long and hard about my favourite characters, the answer suddenly came to me; my favourite character is actually in my favourite book. A book I have loved for so long that it’s almost part of me: Rosamunde Pilcher’s The Shell Seekers. And of course the character is Penelope Keeling.


When the book was first published in 1987 it was a brave choice to put an older woman at the centre of the story, with Judith Krantz, Jackie Collins and Danielle Steel dominating the best-seller list with their sexy young heroines. But there is an enduring quality about Penelope, and I suspect she resonated with readers of all ages – those who, like her, had come through World War Two as young women and those, like me, who found she reminded them just a little bit of their mothers.


There are two characteristics I love more than anything about Penelope – her wisdom and her energy. She isn’t prepared to moulder away in the country, she has an active and fulfilling life and is more than capable of making the most courageous decisions on her own. A proper heroine for the twentieth – and twenty-first – century.


Perhaps Penelope Keeling is also the reason there is a wise older person in all my books. Perhaps it was because I had such a strong relationship with my mother. But I always feel the need to create a wise council, a broader perspective – an alternative view of life from that of my other characters.


One in particular has a very different world view. Jennifer Dodd in The Faerie Tree is not a woman you’d expect to live in a rambling house in a smart Hampshire village, but nevertheless the community respects her. In every way she defies their narrow conventions; letting her young grandsons run wild in the woods, taking in a damaged stranger, and most of all by practising her gentle pagan beliefs.


The Faerie Tree is a book about what happens when Robin and Izzie meet again twenty years after their brief affair and discover their memories of it are completely different. I introduced Jennifer early in the book – during their first date, in fact – but she went on to play a huge part in Robin’s life. It is only through Jennifer’s wisdom that he even has a meaningful life, learning through her to deal with good and bad in the world around him by seeing nature as a source of strength and joy.

One thing I was always sorry about was that there no space in the narrative for Jennifer’s back story and perhaps, like Penelope Keeling, she deserves a novel of her own. Married young to a British soldier stationed in her native Iceland just after the war, she never realised that her new life in a foreign country would mean an outward denial of everything she held dear, but despite everything her independent spirit remained strong.


That’s the joy of the more mature character for me – not the wrinkles that may or may not be on their skin, but the invisible lines and scars that shape them down the years and give them so much depth.


Jane's Links:



Her Author Page on Amazon  


Chat with her on Twitter 


Her website  


Visit her author page on Facebook 




Here's a picture from a recent holiday - oops, sorry, I mean writing retreat in Bath.


Top to bottom:


Jane Cable and Cass Grafton



Kitty Wilson and Kirsten Hesketh



and yours truly.



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Comments (14)

What a lovely comment, Jan. Jane's choice of The Shell Seekers has certainly proved to be very popular, evoking lots of memories as well as, as in your case, inspiring people to want to read it for the first time. I think Jane's interest in older characters is something that strikes a chord with many readers.
What a fantastic idea for a series of blog posts, Sue. Hanging my head in shame as the character, Penelope, sounds wonderful, I'm afraid I haven't read 'The Shell Seekers' but from your post, Jane, I certainly want to now. I love your comment that you like to include a wiser older character in your novels because of Penelope and it would be great if you did write Jennifer's own story one day. Congratulations on your book deal with Sapere!
Thank you both.
P.S. Love the pic!
Thanks so much, Jen. The Shell Seekers has proved a popular choice and I'm glad you're planning to reread it. And rather humbled you're planning to read one of my books too! Let me know how you enjoy both of them.
Hi, Jen. Jane's choice of Penelope from The Shell Seekers has prompted a lot of chatter on Twitter, with plenty of readers remembering the book with great fondness and several saying it's about time they re-read it.

Glad you like the photo. We all had such a fab time together.
Such an interesting post, Jane. As I mentioned on Twitter, THE SHELL SEEKERS was one of my late mum's favourite books and I now have her copy. Your post is a reminder that I'd like to reread it.

Older characters are so important to me too and my books usually include one (or more) wise older women. I'm adding your books to my TBR list!

A gorgeous 'writing holiday' pic of all of you too! x
Thanks so much, Angela... glad this has inspired you to read The Shell Seekers again x
Thanks, Angela. I'm glad you enjoyed Jane's blog. She certainly seems to have picked a very popular book in The Shell Seekers.
Thanks for this interview with Jane - I too loved "Another You" and must read her other books which are on my Kindle. The Shell Seekers is also a favourite read and the interview has made me want to read it again.
Thanks for your kind comments, Cass. I do love my older characters!

The Faerie Tree is my 'special child' - not like my other books but probably the one I love the most.
Thanks, Louise - I remember that wrench when another character took over the narrative too! And cry close to the end... well... buckets don't come into it.

Glad you liked Susanna's addition of a 'holiday snap' - we had an amazing and very productive time in Bath.
Cass, it's lovely to see you here. I agree that the portrayal of a more mature character adds depth and roundness to a book.

I have read Jane's Another You and The Cheesemaker's House, but I haven't read The Faerie Tree yet. It sounds like another atmospheric read and I'll be adding it to my ever-increasing TBR pile.

You'll be here to share your own favourite two fictional characters in the new year, so that is something else to look forward to.
Hi Louise. Many thanks for your comments. I too loved The Shell Seekers - I was working in London at the time and I can remember reading it on the train as I commuted to and fro. Such an engrossing book.
Lovely post, Jane.

I loved the Shell Seekers and now I want to go and read it again, as it's been years since I did! I love what you said about bringing a wise, older person into your stories. It makes everything so much more rounded.

The Faerie Tree sounds a fascinating story! I loved The Cheesemaker's House, as you know, so I think I'll make the FT my next read!

Love this idea for a blog series, Sue, and just adore that photo! Great times!
I read 'The Shell Seekers' years ago when it was first published and I loved it, though I found it a wrench to leave Penelope behind when the next character started 'telling' the story. I hadn't thought about it in terms of how unusual it was for an older woman to be the main character in a book, but looking back, I can see that this was the case. Thank you for an intersting blog - and I love the final photo!