top of page

Blog Tour and Book Excerpt for "Small Eden" by Jane Davis

Book Title: Small Eden

Author: Jane Davis

Publication Date: 30 April 2022, eBooks / 30 May 2022, paperbacks

Publisher: Rossdale Print Productions

Page Length: 394

Genre: Historical Fiction (1864 – 1910)


A boy with his head in the clouds. A man with a head full of dreams.

1884. The symptoms of scarlet fever are easily mistaken for teething, as Robert Cooke and his pregnant wife Freya discover at the cost of their two infant sons. Freya immediately isolates for the safety of their unborn child. Cut off from each other, there is no opportunity for husband and wife to teach each other the language of their loss. By the time they meet again, the subject is taboo. But unspoken grief is a dangerous enemy. It bides its time.

A decade later and now a successful businessman, Robert decides to create a pleasure garden in memory of his sons, in the very same place he found refuge as a boy – a disused chalk quarry in Surrey’s Carshalton. But instead of sharing his vision with his wife, he widens the gulf between them by keeping her in the dark. It is another woman who translates his dreams. An obscure yet talented artist called Florence Hoddy, who lives alone with her unmarried brother, painting only what she sees from her window…

Buy Links:

Book Excerpt:

“Pleasure gardens?” His wife is pacing, pacing. He can hear the rustle of petticoats, the curt clip of heels. “Have you taken complete leave of your senses?”

Robert has waited a week to break the news to Freya. Now he wishes he’d waited longer. “Rosherville Pleasure Gardens was built in a disused chalk pit.”

He would not distress her, so he does not share his intentions. He doesn’t tell her, ‘I dream about them.’ Thomas and Gerrard – who appeared robust, with chubby arms and legs, but then the flush of Thomas’s cheeks, the red bumps on his chest – Gerrard’s too – the swollen glands at their necks, and the shivering. The doctor came with his Epsom salts and his razor to shave their poor heads, but no amount of cool rags could soothe them. In the end it just seemed to be something to keep Robert occupied while Freya was instructed to keep her distance. (At least he’d insisted on that.) ‘Change the rags,’ Dr Stanbury said. ‘See if they won’t take a little broth.’ He doesn’t tell Freya and so she cannot ask, ‘Do they look happy?’ In his nocturnal world, his shadow-sons thrive. Thomas is already waist-high, Gerrard not far behind. They age at the same rate as their girls, their Estelle and Ida. He doesn’t tell Freya that Thomas has lost a front tooth, or about the faces Gerrard pulls behind his brother’s back. Superstition tells Robert he ought to be worried that he sees himself in dreams, but he can’t regret this second life he leads, hearing the boys’ laughter, watching the delight on their faces. And now he will create for them a place to play.

Instead he tells Freya: “It won’t be on the same scale as Rosherville. That wouldn’t be sustainable.” He should have delayed his announcement until he had plans he could spread out on his desk and tenders that met with his accountant’s approval.

She turns to him, her cheeks flushed pink, her face framed by a halo of hair that is not so blonde as it was when he first knew her. “And who do you think is going to come to your small scale pleasure gardens?”

Her anxiety isn’t without good reason. Anyone with money to spend on leisure has larger gardens of their own. But Robert cannot allow his conviction to be shaken. This must happen. “Those from the Benhilton estate. Sutton Green. The new houses on Great Grennell Hill. Think how little entertainment this area has to advertise it.”

“Theatre troupes visit,” she protests.

“Twice a year. I remember our last visit to the theatre hall.”

Freya smiles, half embarrassed. She toys with the pendant that she wears on a choker and which sits in the hollow of her neck. “That dreadful yodeller. We went at my suggestion, didn’t we?”

“If you can sell tickets for tripe like that, you can sell tickets for anything.”

“There’ll be entertainment?”

“Music on a summer’s evening.” He lures her in, with words, then with his arms. She smells of rosewater and lemon. “Theatricals.”

It is clear there is much his wife would like to say, but she allows herself to be held and settles for, “I only hope you know what you’re doing, Robert Cooke!”

All the permission Robert needs. He kisses her forehead, brings her hands to his lips, kisses one and then the other. He is light-headed, ropedancing without a safety net.

Author Bio:

Jane Davis

Hailed by The Bookseller as ‘One to Watch’, Jane Davis writes thought-provoking literary page turners.

She spent her twenties and the first half of her thirties chasing promotions in the business world but, frustrated by the lack of a creative outlet, she turned to writing.

Her first novel, 'Half-Truths and White Lies', won a national award established with the aim of finding the next Joanne Harris. Further recognition followed in 2016 with 'An Unknown Woman' being named Self-Published Book of the Year by Writing Magazine/the David St John Thomas Charitable Trust, as well as being shortlisted in the IAN Awards, and in 2019 with 'Smash all the Windows' winning the inaugural Selfies Book Award. Her novel, 'At the Stroke of Nine O’Clock' was featured by The Lady Magazine as one of their favourite books set in the 1950s, selected as a Historical Novel Society Editor's Choice, and shortlisted for the Selfies Book Awards 2021.

Interested in how people behave under pressure, Jane introduces her characters when they are in highly volatile situations and then, in her words, she throws them to the lions. The themes she explores are diverse, ranging from pioneering female photographers, to relatives seeking justice for the victims of a fictional disaster.

Jane Davis lives in Carshalton, Surrey, in what was originally the ticket office for a Victorian pleasure gardens, known locally as ‘the gingerbread house’. Her house frequently features in her fiction. In fact, she burnt it to the ground in the opening chapter of 'An Unknown Woman'. In her latest release, Small Eden, she asks the question why one man would choose to open a pleasure gardens at a time when so many others were facing bankruptcy?

When she isn’t writing, you may spot Jane disappearing up the side of a mountain with a camera in hand.

Social Media Links:

Follow the Tour:


Read The Historical Fiction Company's Editorial Review of "Small Eden" HERE

1 Comment

Cathie Dunn
Cathie Dunn
Oct 10, 2022

Thank you for hosting Jane Davis today, with such a fabulous excerpt from her novel, Small Eden. xx

bottom of page