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Digital Subscriptions > Family Tree > Family Tree December 2018 > Books


Historian Janet Few‘s debut novel is based on a real 100-year-old family scandal, which the descendants had known nothing about. She tells Karen Clare the genealogical methods and resources she used to bring the story to life


Barefoot on the Cobbles by Janet Few

Days after the end of World War I a young woman from a North Devon fishing village died in the Spanish flu epidemic and her parents were accused of her manslaughter. Barefoot on the Cobbles opens during their trial and looks back to the incidents in the characters’ pasts that led them to be in that place, at that time, to become accuser or accused. ‘It is,’ says author Janet Few, ‘essentially a book about people and what makes them behave in a particular way’.

Janet is a well-known genealogist and historian, so what prompted her to write a novel? After completing her last non-fiction book, Remember Then: women’s memories of 1946-1969 and how to write your own, she decided her next would be fictional, ‘but it wasn’t going to be this book! This particular incident just jumped out and grabbed me, demanding to be written,’ she explains. ‘I uncovered the story when Findmypast released some criminal records. During a blanket search for a particular surname I discovered individuals I recognised.

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About Family Tree

From practical projects for a fabulous family history, to the quest to take your family tree back to Norman times, or the journey to heal a broken family, it's all here in Family Tree: Check out our 20 ideas and solutions to help you get organised and create a family history you can cherish. Explore history back in Norman times, and see how you might be able to trace an ancestor back to William the Conqueror too... See what you know in our Family Tree Academy challenges. Explore the latest DNA know-how. Make yourself a cuppa and enjoy those family stories. We know you're going to love this issue!