I have only recently been introduced to the writing of Christina Courtenay and that is because while I was reading other book blogs I came across a Prize Draw for The Scarlet Kimono another book of hers, it appealed to me, so I entered. What a lovely surprise it was when I won. Deciding to track down and read her earlier work first I obtained this copy of Trade Winds via Bookmooch.
Just the sort of fiction I recommend reading if you are in the mood to be transported back not only in time but also to a far away place. It is novels like this one that are encouraging me to read more historical fiction than I used to.
Reading the Authors notes at the beginning of the novel it appears that Christina Courtenay has done her research well for this novel basing it on the Swedish East India Company’s first journey to China in 1732. The protagonists of the story Jess van Sandt, Killian Kinross and their family and friends are all fictitious. However Colin Campbell and other crew members named in the novel were real people, whose lives she researched to enable her to write this realistic portrayal of a daring journey to the Far East.
The novel opens with Killian Ross a handsome Scot and professional gambler having a win that allows him to make dramatic changes to his life. Already disinherited by his grandfather Killian decides to leave his past behind in Scotland and try a to build a new life for himself in Sweden. It is in Gothenburg that he meets up with feisty Jess van Sendt, who on meeting Killian decides he might be just the man to help her prove that her stepfather is trying to do her out of her rightful inheritance. Killian is learning the art of trading in her family business and makes plans to join an expedition to the Far East. At first Jess finds Killian immensely irritating and he seems to find her just as infuriating. Intrigued with each other, Jess comes up with a plan for Killian to help her get possession of what is rightly hers. However I do not intend to spoil the story by telling you any more other than it does not quite work out the way Jess plans.
This is a delightful story with two well developed main characters that come to life, as you get to know them. It is a good read with plenty of love and adventure that will take you away to times past for a few satisfying hours.
About ”Trade Winds” – Reproduced Courtesy of Author's Official Website
“Trade Winds” is a historical romance set in Sweden and China. It is loosely based on the Swedish East India Company’s first journey to the Far East in 1732, but when I first started writing it, I had no idea this was going to be the case.
Ideas for stories can come to an author in many ways – they might be triggered by seeing a picture, hearing a snatch of conversation, noticing a scent or reading something that catches your interest. Usually, for me, one particular thing will make a scene form in my mind, but with this novel I was inspired in two very different ways.
First of all, in May 2007 the Swedish ship “Götheborg” anchored in London for a couple of weeks, which was exciting to me (a) because I’m half Swedish and (b) because it’s not often you get to see huge sailing ships these days. The “Götheborg” is an exact replica of one of the ships used by the Swedish East India Company to sail to China in the eighteenth century. It had been on a journey to Canton and was on its way home. Members of the public were allowed to go on board and have a look around, so I took the opportunity to do so. It was fascinating and I couldn’t believe how cramped conditions must have been for the poor sailors in the 18th century. They were truly brave men! (For more information and some photos, please click here) Out of curiosity, I began to read more about the Swedish East India Company, and the idea for my story took root.
The second thing that inspired me was a music video – “Call Me When You’re Sober” by the American band Evanescence. The video for this song is based on the fairy tale of Little Red Riding Hood, but the wolf in this instance is a handsome young man who looks wicked and mischievous. He happened to be dressed in old-fashioned clothing, which fits in with my historical writing, and this fired my imagination. The beautiful singer of the band, Amy Lee, was of course Little Red Riding Hood and although she appears timid and naive at the beginning of the video, she starts to assert herself and ultimately triumphs over the wolf/young man because he is enthralled by her. I decided my heroine had to be just as feisty. (If you want to watch the video of “Call Me When You’re Sober” you can find it on YouTube at www.youtube.com/watch?v=izYIO9VtjUs)
The wolf guy became Killian Kinross, a Scotsman who travels to Gothenburg in the hope of making his fortune. Once there, he meets Jessamijn van Sandt, a girl who is being swindled out of her inheritance by her step-father. They join forces for their mutual benefit and eventually end up together on the ship Friedericus Rex Sueciae bound for Canton. This turns out to be an eventful journey in many ways, not least emotionally, and they have to overcome numerous obstacles before all ends well.
If you would like to read an extract, please click here.
Photo and Biography – Amazon
Christina Courtenay lives in London and is married with two children. Although born in England, she is half Swedish and was brought up in Sweden. In her teens, the family moved to Japan and she had the opportunity to travel extensively in the Far East and other parts of the world.
Christina is a committee member of the Romantic Novelists' Association. She has won two of their prizes - the Elizabeth Goudge Trophy for a historical short story in 2001 and the Katie Fforde Bursary in 2006. She has had several Regency novellas published by DC Thomson's 'My Weekly Pocket Novel' series, two of which have also been sold to large print.
Her hobbies include genealogy, archaeology (the armchair variety), listening to loud rock music and collecting things.
Christina Courtenay’s Novels
The Scarlet Kimono is already on my bookshelves courtesy of me winning a signed copy in a Prize Draw, but I wanted to track down and read a copy of Trade Winds first. I prefer to read an author’s work in order or writing/publication if possible. I am planning to read The Scarlet Kimono very soon as on November 1st her new book Highland Storms will be published. I have of course added the title to My Wishlist already.
Biographical and other information including photos and videos are courtesy of the following websites and from the paperback itself.