The Secret Lives of The Doyenne of Didsbrook is my current novel-in-progress and it is a murder mystery spoof.

The sleepy market town of Didsbrook is thrown into turmoil after the town’s most flamboyant resident, the much-loved actress turned best-selling novelist, Jocelyn Robertshaw, is found dead.

The idea for ‘The Doyenne’ came from a short story called An Honest Review, which made the longlist in the Fiction Factory Short Story competition at the beginning of 2019. The short story revolved around the members of the Didsbrook Authors and Writers Group, better known as DAWG.  

I had so much fun writing it, I decided to keep going and turn it into a novel. By the end of 2019, and still called An Honest Review, the opening sequence made the longlist of the Flash500 Novel competition.  Somewhere around the start of 2020,  I gave it a new title, the Secret Lives of the Doyenne of Didsbrook. and made the longlist of the Retreat West Best Opening Page of a Novel competition.

Now Just Say It has found it’s wings, I am looking forward to getting back to the leafy lanes of Didsbrook, somewhere in the Home Counties, and into the heads of the people who live there.

Tessa Barrie The Secret Lives of the Doyenne of Didsbrook

Didsbrook nestles in the bosom of a conservation area. Accessed either by train or by car, there is only one way in and one way out by either means of transport. It is a pastoral dead end, an idyllic haven, surrounded by rolling hills and lush, green countryside – one of the last remaining bastions of serenity in England’s green and pleasant land.

Tessa Barrie The Secret Lives of the Doyenne of Didsbrook

The tranquillity of the residents daily lives is rarely disturbed, other than by the shrill songs of the Yellow Hammer and Corn Bunting floating on the breeze. Or the constant, gentle rushing sound of the Didsbrook Rise, a shallow, stony brook, as it wends its way through the heart of town, on its way to feed the trout lake at Didsbrook Manor before joining the River Stoner.

Didsbook is a creative community. Some of its residents are members of DAWG, the Didsbrook Authors and Writers Group, and others are members of the Didsbrook Amateur Dramatics Society, affectionately known as DADS.  Some are members of both.

Tessa Barrie The Secret Lives of the Doyenne of Didsbrook

The founder of both DADS and DAWG is the town’s best-loved resident, Jocelyn Robertshaw – the Doyenne of Didsbrook.  Once the darling of London’s West End, the recently widowed Jocelyn is a best-selling author who lives in the Tudor pile that stands proud overlooking this quaint, fictitious, market town, somewhere in the Home Counties.

I’d hoped to have finished it by August 2020 but, the umpteenth rewrite of Just Say It got in the way, but I hope to to reveal who done it to Jocelyn by the end of this year, if not before.


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