Monday 2 October 2023

Anna Vaught, "The Zebra and Lord Jones"

Anna Vaught is an English teacher, Creative Writing teacher, mentor, editor and author of several books, including Saving Lucia, Famished, Ravished and These Envoys of Beauty. Her short creative works and features have been widely published, and she has written for the national press and has had a column with The Bookseller and Mslexia. In 2022 Anna launched The Curae, a new literary prize for carers. Anna is also a guest university lecturer, a tutor for Jericho Writers, and volunteers with young people from disadvantaged backgrounds. She is the mother of three sons, comes from a large Welsh family and lives in Wiltshire. The Zebra and Lord Jones is her third novel and seventh book.

About The Zebra and Lord Jones

A listless aristocrat, Lord Jones, finds himself in London during the Blitz, attending to insurance matters. A zebra and her foal, having escaped from the London Zoo during a bombing, cross his path, and he decides to take them back to his estate in Pembrokeshire. Little loved by his fascist-sympathiser parents, something in Lord Jones softens, and he realises he is lost, just like these zebras. 

The arrival of the zebras sparks a new lease of life on the Pembrokeshire estate, and it is not only Lord Jones but the families his dynasty has displaced that benefit from the transformation. Full of heart and mischief, The Zebra and Lord Jones is a hopeful exploration of class, wealth and privilege, grief, colonialism, the landscape, the wars that men make, the families we find for ourselves, and why one lonely man stole a zebra in September 1940 – or perhaps why she stole him.

You can read more about The Zebra and Lord Jones on the publisher's website here. Below, you can read an excerpt from the novel. 

From The Zebra and Lord Jones, by Anna Vaught

It is the autumn of 1940 and the staff of the London Zoo have been hard at work on the preparations for keeping the animals safe. Soon, the Blitz will begin. All the venomous creatures have already been destroyed in case of their escape, or perhaps to prevent their falling into the wrong hands; as in other menageries, the seals have been sequestered for submarine-detection training; in food shortages, some of the smallest creatures have been fed to the biggest and hungriest. Londoners have taken to the animal-adoption scheme to help keep the creatures in food and bedding; some of the tiniest are boarding with families, with the dormice shoeboxed out. It is some miniscule recompense for owners of the 750,000 pets put down when war broke out. But then, late one September night, the zebra enclosure suffers a direct hit, and Mother the zebra and her foal Sweetie escape and outrun the keepers. This is a true story, and is recounted in the journals of Dr Sidney Huxtable, eminent zoologist and director of the zoo, who gave directions that night for the seal pond to be drained in order to provide more water for the firefighters. 

Also in the city that night – as the zebra and her foal ran amidst the flames and rubble, through a tableau of extraordinary suffering – was Lord Robert Ashburn, Baron Jesmond (to be known to you as ‘Lord Jones’, for which read on), attending to his family’s property in Mayfair and Knightsbridge (a little late, as ever) and accounting for insurance expectations in the event of destruction by Hitler, about which the family had serious concerns (in terms of guarding bricks and mortar) ... 

No comments:

Post a Comment