The Regiment's Woman

General Fiction

By Robert Kerby

Publisher : Olympia Publishers

ABOUT Robert Kerby

Robert Kerby
I am an author living in Ontario, Canada. The book I have written and the two in production are historic fiction.



Janetta Rundel, born into a poor miner’s family in a small village in Cornwall, grows into an extraordinarily beautiful woman. She determines to use her beauty, charm and ability to mimic refined speech to rise above poverty and become a lady. 

In a tough Victorian world where class determines your future, Janetta has a hard struggle ahead of her. Finding a position as a domestic servant in the house of a lonely Colonel of the Royal Regiment of Artillery she soon discovers that she has a talent for controlling men’s hearts.

Attracted to the glamour of the regiment, she embarks on a dangerous career of turning heads and encouraging the regiment’s officers and men to commit black mail and even murder to win her heart. Through two husbands, love affairs, a court martial and the one true love she can never have, she struggles to survive; and through it all she must defeat an implacable enemy. 

While doing genealogical research on my paternal family, I kept hearing stories about the Dickensian childhood of my maternal grand father and his notorious mother, Janetta Rundel. The stories were almost too shocking to be true, and the family in general looked back at Janetta Rundel as being the blackest of black sheep and they told her story in furtive whispers, less the children hear. It’s not that I doubted the word of my grandfather (who never had a kind word to say about his mother) but I found it hard to believe that anybody could be so heartless and scandalous. I felt that there had to be more to her story and her personality. I decided to change the focus of my research to discover the truth behind my notorious great grandmother. What I found was that the family only knew half of her story and that she was a far more complex person than they had painted. I originally set out to write a small book about her life, strictly for the benefit of my children and family. I wanted to set the record straight and see if I could redeem her reputation to some degree. However, I soon found that writing a factual account of her life was dry and, frankly, unbelievable. I decided, therefore, to treat her story as a fictional novel. I changed names, to protect the innocent, as they say, and added characters, who, I felt sure must have played a part in her life. Her lover Lieutenant Bird for example is fictitious but I am certain that there was such a lover in the background. He fits her story perfectly. The dates, locations, and fate of her husbands and children are all quite accurate however, as is her disappearance from history. I hope you will enjoy this tale for what it is, an incredible story of love, lust, and self serving ambition.

It is difficult to distinguish who is more ambitious: Kerby and the historic diligence required to craft this well-informed debut novel or his indecently charming femme fatale. From impoverished and vulnerable to cunning and downright unconscionable, Janetta – at times unwittingly – carves acareer as the regiment’s woman.

Katherine Moore, Homes Publishing Group, Ontario