Update: Thursday, 8 September 2016 - the domestic abuse Jill and her mother describe in The Rainy Season is recounted by Owen Jones in today's Guardian: "Not all men commit abuse against women. But all must condemn it"
The Rainy Season by Jill Robinson
Friday, 22 April 2016
Many Hebden Bridge people will be familiar with Jess, the put-upon heroine of the popular Berringden Brow series of books (thousands sold, and still selling.)
Now a new book, The Rainy Season, chronicles Jess's teenage years in the 1960s, living in small-town Devonshire, where Jess struggles with the double standard allowing boys with Saturday jobs to earn threepence an hour more than girls and where daughters must be always available to assist with household chores while their brothers can please themselves.
Coming of age in the 1960s
Jess grew up in a society which insisted that women, even wage-earners, provided a male guarantor simply to rent a television set and where a married woman's income was treated as belonging to her husband.
Crucially for Jess's family, there was no protection in law from domestic violence, and Jess shares a barricaded bedroom with her depressed mother against the alcohol-fuelled rages of her bullying father. Jess dreams of being grown up and able to escape but it seems to be taking an awfully long time.
Meanwhile, the pace of social change is quickening, even in sleepy market towns: abortion law reform, the decriminalising of homosexuality, divorce law reform, the lowering of the age of majority from 21 to 18 - and then the Pill becomes available.
Memories stirred by the current Archers storyline
The writer Jill Robinson has been working on this poignant memoir for some time and could not in her wildest dreams have imagined that it would be launched in the same month that the long-running domestic violence story-line in Radio 4's The Archers eventually came to a head, when the subject has been making headlines all over news and social media.
Physical and mental abuse
What has been difficult listening for many has evoked painful memories for Jill, since the years of physical and mental abuse completely ruined her mother's health and caused Jill herself to suffer a breakdown.
A recently introduced new law against coercive behaviour would have helped, since it applies to children over 16 as well as partners/spouses, but for Jill's family it came into effect 50 years too late.
Her father tried to prevent her from going to university as he believed that education was wasted on a girl. He drove her out of the house to study in nearby fields and refused to complete the necessary forms which the father of a family was required to fill out in order for a grant assessment to be undertaken.
Just how Jill (Jess) and her mother managed to outwit him and escape their dreadful situation makes for compelling reading.
"Thank you for writing this book, I could not put it down!" Ann, U3A member, Hebden Bridge.
eBook available now (£4.95)
More eBooks from Pennine Pens
Hard copies of The Rainy Season (pictured below) are available from The Bookcase or by contacting the author.