Local Author Helen Scarlett visited Chapter One Loftus todayas part of Indie Bookshop week to meet customers and sign copies of her book, The Deception of Harriet Fleet which was published in hardback by Quercus Publishing in April 2021. Helen signed copies of her debut novel which is set locally in Teesside. The Deception of Harriet Fleet is dark and brimming with suspense, an atmospheric Victorian chiller set in brooding County Durham. Set in an age of discovery and progress, the Wainwright family, residents of the gloomy Teesbank Hall (locals will know it as Preston Hall in Egglescliffe) in County Durham the secrets of the past continue to overshadowtheir lives. Harriet would not have taken the job of governess in such a remote place unless she wanted to hide from something or someone. Her charge is Eleanor, the daughter of the house, a fiercely bright eighteen-year-old, tortured by demons and feared by relations and staff alike. But it soon becomes apparent that Harriet is not there to teach Eleanor, but rather to monitor her erratic and dangerous behaviour – to spy on her. Worn down by Eleanor’s unpredictable hostility, Harriet soon finds herself embroiled in Eleanor’s obsession – the Wainwright’s dark, tragic history. As family secrets are unearthed, Harriet’s own begin to haunt her and she becomes convinced that ghosts from the past are determined to reveal her shameful story. For Harriet, like Eleanor, is plagued by deception and untruths.
‘It was great to welcome Helen to the shop as part for Indie Bookshop Week especially given the novel is set locally in Teesside. It was also amazing to have customers in the shop who were able to chat with Helen and have books signed personally for them. As is becoming our new custom, Helen sat in our big green chair and took away some local products including cakes from the Willow Cake Shop in Loftus and Chapter One Loftus Bookshop Blend Coffee by the Roseberry Coffee Company said Paul Jones-King, Helen also confirmed she’s working on her second novel’
Chapter One Loftus
Chapter One Loftus is and Independent Book Shop, based in the Market Place in Loftus, situated between Grimwood Estate Agents and Lloyds Pharmacy, in what was the old Carole Louise Hair Salon. Paul, Chris and Dexter opened Chapter One Loftus on the 2nd November 2020 just two days before the second lock down and whilst we are based on the High Street in Loftus we have been well supported by customers across East Cleveland and North Yorkshire Coast. After being open for only two days we moved to an online shop www.chapteroneloftus.co.uk offering free local delivery from our High Street Shop. We are proud to be one of the new indie retailers in Loftus serving the wider local communities of East Cleveland and the North Yorkshire Coast and Moors, who have supported us with the #choosebookshops #shoplocal and #indieloftus on social media. Chapter One Loftus was recently included in the top 12 of the UK’s best independent bookshops, chosen by Guardian readers.
Helen has a BA (hons) degree from London University and, after a brief flirtation with the world of finance, has taught secondary English for over twenty years, most recently in a sixth form college. In that time, society has become much more open in talking about mental health issues and this formed the starting point for her novel. She lives and works in the North East of England, a region which holds endless fascination for her and whose influence can be felt throughout her writing.
Her debut novel, The Deception of Harriet Fleet, was published in hardback in Spring 2021.
Independent Bookshop Week is part of the Books Are My Bag campaign and run by the Booksellers Association, and seeks to celebrate independent bookshops in the UK and Ireland. We do this with events, celebrations, reading groups, storytelling, author signings, literary lunches and face painting! Your local bookshop will have their own way of celebrating, and we encourage you to visit to celebrate with them.
Photos by Dexter King-Jones