Finney, Patricia 1958–
Finney, Patricia 1958–
PERSONAL: Born May 12, 1958, in London, England; daughter of Jarlath John (an attorney) and Daisy (an attorney; maiden name, Veszy) Finney; married; children: three. Education: Wadham College, Oxford, B.A. (with honors), 1980. Politics: "Right-wing." Religion: Roman Catholic. Hobbies and other interests: Science, karate, embroidery, folk music.
CAREER: Writer, 1977–.
AWARDS, HONORS: David Higham Award, David Higham Associates Literary Agency, 1977, for A Shadow of Gulls; Edgar Allan Poe Award nomination, Mystery Writers of America, 2005, for Assassin.
I, Jack, illustrated by Peter Bailey, Corgi Yearling (London, England), 2000, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2004.
Jack and Police Dog Rebel, illustrated by Peter Bailey, Corgi Yearling (London, England), 2002.
"LADY GRACE MYSTERIES"; HISTORICAL FICTION; FOR YOUNG ADULTS
Assassin, Delacorte Press (New York, NY), 2004.
Betrayal, Delacorte Press (New York, NY), 2004.
Deception, Delacorte Press (New York, NY), 2005.
"DAVID BECKET AND SIMON AMES" SERIES; HISTORICAL FICTION; FOR ADULTS
Firedrake's Eye, St. Martin's (New York, NY), 1992.
Unicorn's Blood, Picador (New York, NY), 1998.
Gloriana's Torch, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 2003.
"SIR ROBERT CAREY MYSTERIES"; AS P.F. CHISHOLM; FOR ADULTS
A Famine of Horses, Hodder and Stoughton (London, England), 1994.
A Season of Knives, Hodder and Stoughton (London, England), 1995.
A Surfeit of Guns, Hodder and Stoughton (London, England), 1996.
A Plague of Angels, Hodder and Stoughton (London, England), 1998, with introduction by Diana Gabaldon, Poisoned Pen Press (Scottsdale, AZ), 2000.
A Shadow of Gulls ("Lugh Mac Romain" series; historical fiction), Putnam (New York, NY), 1977.
The Flood (radio play), broadcast by British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) Radio, 1977.
The Crow Goddess ("Lugh Mac Romain" series; historical fiction), Putnam (New York, NY), 1978.
Author of television preview column for London Evening Standard; author of unproduced screenplay Saint Bridget. Contributor of articles and stories to magazines and newspapers.
WORK IN PROGRESS: Jack and Old Chap, a sequel to Jack and Police Dog Rebel; "Reykiki," a fantasy trilogy for children; Pushing a Pea up Your Nose, a contemporary love story; The Durable Fire, an historical novel; Queen's Shade, a film script; and A Quarrell of Lawyers, a sequel to A Plague of Angels.
SIDELIGHTS: British-born writer Patricia Finney was only seventeen years old when she completed her first novel, A Shadow of Gulls. Set in second-century Ireland, the book is based on the Ulster cycle of Celtic hero tales. The hero of the story is Lugh the Harper, a warrior who participates in many bloody battles. In The Crow Goddess Finney continues the saga of Lugh the Harper and his adventures in ancient Ireland.
Finney has continued to write historical fiction, for both adults and young adults. Her adult series include the "David Becket and Simon Ames" series, about a pair of spies in the service of Queen Elizabeth I; and—under the pseudonym P.F. Chisholm—the "Sir Robert Carey Mysteries," based on an actual, historical figure who lived in England in the late sixteenth century. Finney's young-adult series, the "Lady Grace Mysteries" are set in the same time period. Their protagonist, Lady Grace Cavendish, is a teenaged maid of honor to Queen Elizabeth I. The books are all written as entries in Lady Grace's journal, called a "day-booke" in the story's Renaissance parlance. In the first book in the series, Assassin, the queen arranges several suitors for the orphaned Lady Grace, and the girl must choose between them. Immediately after she does, at a regal St. Valentine's Day ball, one of the men Grace has rejected is found stabbed to death, and the man she chose is accused of being the murderer. Lady Grace believes that the man, Lord Robert Radcliffe, has been wrongly accused, and she is determined to investigate and exonerate him. "Action makes the story a pageturner," Cheri Dobbs wrote in the School Library Journal, "but Lady Grace's wit and personality are what readers will really enjoy." BookLoons.com contributor J.A. Kaszuba Locke also praised the tale, calling it "a sparkling combination of mystery and history, with surprising sidesteps, excellent momentum, and likable characters."
Lady Grace and her fellow sleuths Masou (a court acrobat and juggler) and Ellie (a laundry maid) return to investigate more strange happenings in Betrayal and Conspiracy. In the former title Lady Sarah Bartelmy, a maid of honor to the queen, disappears. She has eloped with Captain Francis Drake, according to a letter to the queen that is seemingly from Lady Sarah, but Lady Grace is suspicious. Disguised as a young man, she goes with Masou to Drake's ship to investigate and the two sleuths accidentally become stowaways. "Packed with grand adventure and frequent plot twists," according to a reviewer in Looking GlassReview.com, Betrayal "will delight those who relish tales of great deeds, foiled plots, and seafaring exploits."
Conspiracy takes place during the summer months, as Queen Elizabeth and her entourage travel throughout England visiting the manors of various nobles. Her majesty nearly falls victim to several potentially fatal accidents on this "progress," as the journey is called, and Lady Grace suspects a conspiracy against the controversial monarch. A reviewer for Kidsreads.com dubbed Conspiracy "not only a terrific read but also a fascinating and fun history lesson" due to Finney's inclusion of many details about life in the Elizabethan court.
Finney's novels about a big yellow Labrador dog named Jack are in a very different vein from her other works. The first book in this series, I, Jack, concerns the mutt's puppy love for Petra, a neighboring dog, and the difficulties the pair face when Petra has puppies. The book is written in Jack's voice, and the dog's "limited understanding of the human world and his funny names for things provide some droll humor," commented a Kirkus Reviews contributor. "Jack's sincere attempts to make sense of what people are telling him are particularly funny," wrote School Library Journal reviewer James K. Irwin. As Booklist contributor Michael Cart noted, additional amusement appears in the form of "acid commentary" provided by three cats and transcribed in the book's footnotes.
Finney once commented: "I write because I enjoy doing it. When it stops being fun I'll stop writing. I believe that writing is half talent, half skill—a writer should be able to turn her hand to anything that interests her. I particularly disagree with the idea that in order to be considered 'good' fiction must be 'highbrow' and literary. All the great writers have been bestsellers in their way, from Homer to Shakespeare to Dickens.
"As far as my future writing career is concerned, I would very much like to write screenplays. I intend to keep on writing historical novels but would also like to try my hand at publishing light nonfiction, science fiction, children's books, and history.
"To expand on my politics, I am a feminist, and am against all forms of totalitarian or authoritarian thought or government. As socialism and Communism seem to me at the moment greater threats to freedom than fascism or Nazism, I am right-wing."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Best Sellers, October, 1977, review of A Shadow of Gulls, p. 196.
Booklist, December 15, 2003, Michael Cart, review of I, Jack, p. 750.
Books and Bookmen, November, 1978, review of The Crow Goddess, p. 64.
Kirkus Reviews, September 15, 2003, review of Gloriana's Torch, p. 1144; January 15, 2004, review of I, Jack, p. 82.
Library Journal, January, 1998, Nancy Pearl, review of Unicorn's Blood, p. 139; October 1, 2003, Nancy Pearl, review of Gloriana's Torch, p. 116.
Listener, April 14, 1977.
Observer (London, England) June 5, 1977, review of A Shadow of Gulls, p. 29; September 3, 1978, review of The Crow Goddess, p. 26.
People, September 26, 1977.
Publishers Weekly, April 27, 1992, review of Firedrake's Eye, p. 253; November 24, 1997, review of Unicorn's Blood, p. 51; October 27, 2003, review of Gloriana's Torch, p. 44; February 23, 2004, review of I, Jack, p. 77; November 1, 2004, review of Assassin, p. 63.
School Library Journal, May, 2004, James K. Irwin, review of I, Jack, p. 147; October, 2004, Cheri Dobbs, review of Assassin, p. 158.
Times Literary Supplement, April 15, 1977, review of A Shadow of Gulls, p. 451.
BookLoons.com, http://www.bookloons.com/ (July 25, 2005), J.A. Kaszuba Locke, reviews of Assassin, Betrayal, and Conspiracy; Wesley Williamson, review of Unicorn's Blood.
Fantastic Fiction Web site, http://www.fantasticfiction.co.uk/ (July 6, 2005), "Patricia Finney."
Kidsreads.com, http://www.kidsreads.com/ (July 28, 2005), Shannon McKenna, review of "Lady Grace Mysteries"; reviews of Assassin, Betrayal, and Conspiracy.
LookingGlassReview.com, http://www.lookingglassreview.com/ (July 28, 2005), reviews of Assassin, Betrayal, and Conspiracy.
MysteryGuide.com, http://www.mysteryguide.com/ (July 25, 2005), review of Firedrake's Eye.
National Association for the Teaching of English Web site, http://www.nate.org.uk/ (July 28, 2005), Leanne Wood, review of Assassin.
Patricia Finney Home Page, http://www.patriciafinney.co.uk (July 6, 2005),
Shots: The Crime and Mystery Magazine Online, http://www.shotsmag.co.uk/ (July 25, 2005), Maureen Carlyle, review of Gloriana's Torch.