Good Reading : May 2016
Creating a story that combines her passions for history, the law, literature and romance novels proved to be a labour of love for Brisbane-based author and for mer corporate lawyer Christine Wells. Her new novel, The Wife’s Tale, is a complex, thought-provoking and genre-defying tale that moves between contemporary Brisbane, late 18th-century London, and a landed estate on the Isle of Wight in the past and the present. Incorporating elements of historical fiction, legal drama, mystery and romance, it’s the story of workaholic corporate lawyer Liz Jones, who travels to Seagrove estate on the Isle of Wight to secretly investigate the provenance of a stately home. With her marriage in trouble, Liz finds herself drawn to the property’s current owner, Theo Nash, the unassuming, down-to-earth yet enigmatic lord of the manor, and his warm and welcoming sister, Gemma. They are trying to conjure up ways to preserve and protect the old family pile in the face of mounting costs. Liz’s investigations uncover the private journals of Theo and Gemma’s ancestor, Lady Delany Nash, plus legal documents relating to a scandalous court case over Delany’s alleged affair with Julian, the brother of her husband, Richard. These documents form the second thread of the novel. The long-concealed truths Liz discovers may have dramatic repercussions for the present owners of Seagrove, and the relationships she forges with the Nash family will impact on her own future. From her Brisbane home, Christine explains how her own background and interests influenced the story. The daughter of a barrister and solicitor, Christine grew up exposed to the law. Despite a short-lived ambition to be a brain surgeon – after persuading her brother to let her watch while a doctor stitched a cut in his foot – Christine followed her father into a legal career. ‘When I was in Grade 12 I was in a moot court competition – a mock trial where you have to prepare a case – and I won a half-scholarship to Bond University,’ she says. Christine went on to study law at Queensland University of Technology and met her future husband, Jamie, when she was sent to his law firm on work experience. ‘I started working in law in the late 1990s and in those days it was a real work hard/play Scandalising secrets COVER STORY GOODREADINGMAGAZINE.COM.AU GOOD READING MAY 2016 26 ‘... I thought that only god-like people actually wrote novels and published them, so it didn’t really occur to me that I might.’ Scandalising secrets Real-life historical figures and 18th-century court cases dealing with adultery inspired one of two interwoven storylines in The Wife’s Tale, a new novel by Australian author CHRISTINE WELLS. She tells MAUREEN EPPEN how the true events from the past inform her tale of scandal, intrigue, murder – and love.