Nat Gould

His life and books

The Magpie Jacket: A Tale of the Turf

First published by Routledge in 1896. It was well received from first publication (1).

Reissued with the shorter title "The Magpie Jacket" in 1919, 1935, 1954 and 1959.

Eric Fairfield, the nephew and heir of Squire Arden of Arden Hall near Newark in Nottinghamshire, persuades his uncle to revive his interest in training racehorses, in the hope that the old "magpie jacket" colours will again be worn by race winners. He falls in love with Nora Norton, the younger daughter of "Peg" Norton, a self-made Nottingham lace maker with ambitions to become a county magnate. Her brother Hector seduces Amy Jackson, and tricks her father Hiram Jackson so that he becomes a fugitive from justice. Ned Caunton, the squire's trainer, prepares two colts for the races. His daughter Ruth is wooed by Hector Norton, she being unaware of Amy's history. Setbacks and triumphs abound, and the fortunes of the Arden family are happily re-established.

A delightful story, engagingly told, and full of love, intrigue and success brought about by hard work. The characters are beautifully drawn, and the descriptions of the Nottinghamshire countryside are excellent. Especially memorable are the Arden Christmas weather, the thrilling horse races, and an adventurous train journey. A superb tale. (TA)

(1) The West Australian, for example, in its review on 7 November 1896, informed its readers that the story had only one unpleasant character, and "that sundry love-making couples live happy ever afterwards", concluding that "the book may be described as one well worth a place in any sporting library."