Gillie Bowen Author

Gillie Bowen, author

About the author

Gillie is a retired British journalist, living in the Loire Valley, France.  Writing has been a passion since a young age.  She was born in Kenya, daughter of a South African mother.  

Her first novel, Beneath African Skies, is the story of her ancestors, who emigrated to Southern Africa in 1820.  The sequel, Breaking African Skies, continues the story of the Hudson family in post-war Kenya. 

The Ville Rose trilogy is pure fiction - a romantic drama set in modern-day England and France.

The Lost Seed of the Pomegranate is a family saga based on the true story of two Victorian women faced with heart-wrenching decisions which will have life-long consequences.

The Mary White is an impelling read. Mary White’s dream is to build a rescue boat that will save lives. She risks her life helping her first love, Stephen, to smuggle goods brought in from France. Her smuggling escapades and rescue attempts bring scandal to her family. In an attempt to restore their good name, she marries a wealthy socialite. Will the marriage bring her the freedom she craves to realise her ambitions? This is a true story set in a time of political unrest, war with France and the Jacobite Rising of 1745, led by Bonny Prince Charlie.  

Since moving to France, Gillie has become a keen fan of French cooking and in particular, Amuse-Bouche.  With her American friend, Dana Wood, they have put together hundreds of inspiring amuse-bouche recipes in two volumes.

All Gillie's books are available on Amazon in paperback.  The novels are also available on Kindle.


Books by Gillie Bowen

Historical Family Sagas, Romantic Drama & Cookbooks

Welcome to my website and an introduction to my novels and cookbooks. 


Beneath African Skies


On a cold, wet and windy day in London on12th February 1820, John and Elizabeth Hudson boarded The Zoroaster, a small sailing vessel, which would take fourteen weeks to reach Simon’s Town in South Africa. Just married and only 20 years old, they had been lured by a free passage and a hundred acres of prime agricultural land in the Zuurveld. In fact, on this barren and inhospitable land, the 1820 Settlers would act as a human buffer between the warring black tribes in the East and the European colony on the western perimeter. A hundred years later, their descendants, George and Molly Hudson face more hardships when, as children, they witness the horror of a tribal castration and survive hyena, crocodile and cobra attacks. Typhoid fever, murder, crater plunges and gold rush mania will challenge their young lives. Torn apart, George faces the perils of war as an RAF fighter pilot and Molly finds herself a pregnant and lonely bride in war-torn Britain. Will their love survive the desperate hardships that they must face?

This is how George and Molly grew up on the farm at Ainabakoi, alongside the tots

Breaking African Ties


In this, Breaking African Ties, the sequel to Beneath African Skies, siblings George and Molly return to their homeland, Kenya, after the conclusion of the Second World War. George’s war had seen him in action as an RAF pilot in Egypt, Greece, Italy, Albania and Syria. He was awarded the DFM and was mentioned in ‘Despatches’. Molly’s war had been spent alone in war-torn Britain whilst her husband, Boris, served in the North African desert and Germany, where he was awarded the Military Cross. Now, in post-war Kenya, George must seek a job and a home for his new family. Molly, heavily pregnant with her second child, returns to her parents’ home with her two-year-old son. Will she be re-united with her British husband? They must now face the ‘Winds of Change’ as Kenya seeks independence under Jomo Kenyatta. They will live through the horrors of the Mau-Mau Rebellion as their children grow up in a new Black Africa. On the white farms, Settlers are murdered, buildings are burnt down, crops are destroyed, cattle and other livestock hamstrung and disembowelled. The family will also face meningitis, scrub typhoid, polio and the tragic deaths of loved-ones. George and Molly must decide if their futures lie in a new Kenya after the fight for African Freedom - or must they retrace their ancestor’s footsteps back to England?

This was Molly when she lived in their first home 'Castle Garside'

Jomo was George's friend and confidant. He became Kenya's first President

The Ville Rose Series

A Trilogy

Towering Expectations


Love has come late to both Patricia and Freddy but will they find happiness when they meet in Toulouse, France’s ‘Ville Rose’? Freddy is a senior partner in a top London estate agency and Patricia is a successful journalist with The Times newspaper, also in London. What will the future hold for these two high-flyers? Will they be able to put their dynamic careers on hold whilst they plan an exciting future together? “Love is a disease that fills you with a desire to be desired”

Scandalous Revelations


It is the year 2035. In her search for her biological father, Patricia’s daughter, Juliette, discovers she has a half-sister, Tracy, living in London. Born and brought up on a prosperous vineyard estate in Aveyron in Southern France, Juliette is from a privileged background. Tracy is a ‘Cockney Sparrow’ from London’s East End, where money is tight and life can be brutal. Despite their differences, they become soul-mates. Sharing a new life together in the French city of Toulouse, they face the usual teenage pitfalls of growing up. But university life is fun and rewarding and they both fall in love. However, their entangled lives are to face a minefield of scandalous revelations. Will their love and friendship survive their father’s infamous and immoral past?

Sacrificial Atonement


Will siblings Juliette and Didier overcome their insurmountable filial problems? Is their love strong enough to defy public outrage? Together, will ‘Cockney Sparrow’ Tracy, and her French lover, Michel, achieve their ambitions to restore the beautiful Chateau Eugénie? And will Joseph make the final sacrifice in his tireless pursuit of the illusive Sofiah? Set in Toulouse, Paris, London and Beirut, this is a story of heartbreak, intrigue, murder and love. Sacrificial Atonement is the exciting conclusion to the Ville Rose trilogy.

The Lost Seed of the





New Year's Day 1879. In a carriage, Emily is on her way to her wedding. She and Ernest could not be more opposite. An orphan, she was educated at boarding school, courtesy of her wealthy grandfather. Now twenty-one, she is a confident and independent thinker. Her beloved Ernest grew up surrounded by a close-knit family of London Quakers, whose beliefs dominate their lifestyle. Emily faces her new life with apprehension. Will she adapt to the confines of Ernest’s tight-knit family? Or will Ernest fulfil his dream to emigrate to Australia, where she will face the unknowns of colonial life? What will be the future of the child she carries? A daughter who will break her mother’s heart, but will go on to face tragedy herself? ’The Lost Seed of the Pomegranate’ is based on the true story of two Victorian women faced with heart-wrenching decisions which will have life-long consequences.

Now published on Amazon!

“Australia... That’s where dreams come true.”

Dreams. Emily Saunders had plenty of those, although she had never countered on Australia being one. But now she shares Ernest’s dreams. They could do it. They could really do it. They could leave old England behind and start a new life, far away. However, the birth of Emily and Ernest's so desperately wanted first child had been traumatic and dangerous. Emily had not had the energy or the health to look after her precious little girl, nor did she feel the great emotional wave of love that other mothers felt because unfortunately, she was never given a chance to. Living in the same house as her husband’s family, Emily finds herself pushed to the background of young Lilian’s life. Ernest’s sisters will not let Emily be the baby’s mother, and her young daughter has been turned against her. But once they were in Australia, and Lilian was under her care, then Emily would be able to become the mother she knows she can be. But first, they have to get there. Determined not to see their dreams go up in ashes, Emily and Ernest make their plans and buy their tickets, but will fate and Ernest’s overbearing and obnoxious sisters stop this dream from becoming a reality? From the ringing bells of St. Botolph-without-Bishopsgate Church to the temperate air of Adelaide, Australia, The Lost Seed of the Pomegranate by Gillie Bowen is the poignant and unforgettable account of Emily and Lilian Saunders' lives. What an emotional rollercoaster, The Lost Seed of the Pomegranate takes you on, and the fact that it is based on actual people made it all the more heartbreaking.  I instantly connected with Emily. Emily is a wonderfully warm and caring woman who Bowen has portrayed with a graceful sensitivity and a vivid sense of realism. Bowen has with great care and diligence, told her ancestor’s story, and what a story it is. I was swept away by this tautly gripping and fast-moving narrative. Time ceased to matter as I became immersed in this rich tale of complicated family dynamics, and the hopes and dreams of a young family. Believe me, the pages of this book practically turn themselves. Bowen has captured the very essence of life during this era. Not only is this book rich in historical detailing and authentic to the period that it is set in, but it also captures the attitudes and perceptions of people during this time. There is a hierarchy to the family dynamics where one must respect their elders no matter what, which I thought came across as very real in the telling and very factual as to how things were. I thought the Saunders' family was fabulously portrayed.  I was particularly interested in Bowen’s depiction of Twining Tea, and she allows us to catch a glimpse of what it was like at Twining’s during this era. I thought Bowen’s depiction of Mr Richard Twining was masterfully portrayed. I enjoyed reading about him and his company. As with all good stories, there is a villain in the tale, someone who makes your skin crawl. I despised Ernest’s sisters, Annie and Alice. Their cruel and vicious psychological manipulation of Lilian was absolutely deplorable. My heart bled for Emily as she desperately tried to form a relationship with her daughter despite the sisters unwanted and cruel interference. I did try to feel compassion for Annie and Alice, and I tried to understand the reasoning behind their actions, but to use a child in such a dreadfully selfish way made this very hard. I was fearful for Lilian’s future but also for Emily’s mental health. It was absolutely heart-wrenching.  I enjoyed The Lost Seed of the Pomegranate very much. I think fans of Colleen McCullough's beloved Thorn Birds will find something highly appealing about The Lost Seed of the Pomegranate.   I highly recommend.

Review by MaryAnne Yarde, The Coffee Pot Book Club multi-award-winning author of the International bestselling series, The Du Lac Chronicles. 


A Fascinating Tale of Two Empowered Women

Based on real family history, Gillie Bowen tells the story of two strong women whose lives are intimately intertwined and who shape their own destinies in the Victorian era. She skilfully portrays a mother and her daughter who suffer from being worlds apart, both physically and psychologically. They have challenging decisions to make in times when new inventions and immigration to new worlds hold a prominent place. The author has succeeded in telling a heart-wrenching story in which lively dialogue is woven around fascinating bits of historical and scientific information. She brings to life the adventurous journeys to Australia, the hardships faced and the difficult dilemmas confronting women in the changing 19th century. We are drawn into the story at once, laughing and crying throughout, and hoping the tale will never end.

Review by Dorothy Paton, American & French Editor


Just finished it, cracking read.

Frank Moore, France & England


I just finished reading your book and I wanted to tell you how interesting I found it and how much I enjoyed the storyline. I was in tears reading the final page - what an ending, very sad but powerful! I think this is not only a really interesting family history but also a really well-written book. Emily and Lillian's fascinating stories are colourfully etched in my memory and they will stay there for some time, I believe. Well done, a really great achievement!

Anabel Hyman, Helmsley, North Yorkshire, England


The Lost Seed of the Pomegranate is an outstanding read! I am renowned as a slow reader with a  'sleep button' on my bottom - alas, this book made a liar of that reputation. I completed the 430-odd page book in just over three days. I was totally consumed from the very first chapter by the gripping and fast-moving narrative that gave power to the story of the lives of two Victorian women embroiled within an intriguing battle of family heritage versus personal dreams. The heart-wrenching emotional decisions and life-long consequences that unfold throughout the book moved me to reflect on my own circumstances in a way that no other book has done for longer than I care to remember. I highly recommend this book to anyone.

Nick Pinkerton, Brisbane, Australia

The Mary White

Born into a long-established family of boatbuilders in Broadstairs, Kent, Mary White is a rebellious teenager who is as passionate about the sea as her father. The Goodwin Sands, a treacherous stretch of sand which lies six miles off the coast of Kent, claims the lives of thousands of sailors. In 1741, it is John White’s ambition to design a unique rescue boat to save the crews of floundering ships. Mary spends every minute she can helping at the boatyard, much against her mother’s wishes. In the early eighteenth century, Thanet is a hotbed of of smuggling. Wines, spirits and tea are brought in illegally from France on small boats, and most local fishermen dabble in the game. Headstrong Mary becomes caught up in smuggling for the notorious Hawkhurst Gang with Stephen, her first love. The penalty for those caught by the Customs men is death by public hanging. Following a daring escapade at sea, Stephen is forced to flee. Mary aids his escape by arranging for him to go to war with her brother, aboard HMS Victory, The Royal Navy’s flagship. But in late September 1744, returning from a successful mission in Spanish waters, the ship sinks in a storm in the English Channel and all hands are lost. Alongside her father, Mary learns to build and design boats. She is involved in the build of a racing yacht for the son of a famous London economist, who falls in love with her impetuous nature. Anxious to get away from the restraints of family life in rural Kent, and believing the love of her life has drowned at sea, Mary marries and moves to London. Set against a background of war with France and the Jacobite Rebellion of 1745, this true story moves at a fast pace through an uneasy time in British history. Will Mary’s marriage bring her the happiness and freedom she craves? Or, as lives continue to be lost at sea by ships wrecked along this notorious coastline, will she be drawn back to to the sea? What will the future hold for this brave and impulsive girl, who refuses to conform to the traditions and restrictions thrust upon the women of her time?

5 star review from Meghan Marsden, Author/Writer

"This one had me on a rollercoaster! I'm a huge fan of Gillie Bowen and enjoyed another of her novels, The Lost Seed of the Pomegranate very much. Ms Bowen's latest creation, The Mary White, is the true story of an extraordinary woman who managed to carve her independence from the limited offerings of the 1700's. I say it was a rollercoaster of a read because the intrepid Mary participates in bootlegging, arranges the escape of her love from the gallows, and designs a life boat that becomes the precursor for the Royal National Lifeboat Institute. I would have never imagined that such an enjoyable, nail biter of a novel, that kept me turning pages late into the night, was a painstakingly well researched historical fiction. This is NOT your average historical read. But then of course, Mary White was no average woman."


Follow this link for a 5 star review from


The Plot: The blurb lays out the plot in great detail so I don't need to add to much more. This book is based on an ancestor of the author Gillie Bowen. The plot follows Mary from a fifteen year old girl as she fights for an independent life in an age when this is hard to come by. She hopes marriage will bring her the freedom she craves all while mourning her first love.

The Characters: Mary White is a delight. A brave, forward-thinking girl in an era when women were nothing more than ornaments. She is so well drawn, a likeable young woman, you'll find yourself cheering her on from the start. Mary is surrounded by a loving family, a father who supports her love of boats and mother who wants the best for her daughter. Both are amazingly tolerant of Mary's adventures, at least those they know about! Henry Massie was a hoot! A pompous despicable hoot. I loved the descriptions of his clothes and his character. I wish we had gotten to know Mary's first love, Stephen, a bit better.

The History: This setting is one of my favorites. Set during the Georgian years in England, the pages are full of historical events; Naval War with their old enemy, France, the Scottish Rebellion and the Battle of Culloden, and Georgian London. The author did a great job of blending Mary's story with the history of the day. There is also some great descriptions of the clothing worn in the mid 1700s as well a interesting look at boat building and design. I was surprised by the amount of ships that were lost each year along the coast. The author gives us a glimpse at the attempts to save the unfortunate sailors who found themselves shipwrecked.

The Writing: Told in first person/present tense this books zips along at a fast clip. The book is well edited, the narrative engaging, the plot well executed.

Overall: I really enjoyed this book. The fact that it is based on a real woman makes it all the better. I highly recommend it to readers of historical fiction, I don't think you'll be disappointed.

My Rating: I give this book ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ five stars!



American and English cooks Dana Wood and Gillie Bowen, who live in the Loire Valley in France, have created over 100 amuse-bouche recipes with tips on planning and presentation. By including these one-bite works of art in your menu, you will take your lunch and dinner parties from good to exceptional. Amuse-bouche cooking is creative, artistic and easy. Above all, it's a lot of fun.

amuse-bouche goes Latin

Link: Latin

Amuse-bouche is a French creation and its purpose is to introduce exciting, unusual flavours and ingredients in tiny quantities in one or two mouthfuls. In their second book, Chefs Gillie Bowen and Dana Wood introduce Latin tastes to their repertoire of amuse-bouche recipes, following their travels in Argentina, Chile, Peru, Ecuador, Brazil and The Caribbean. If you find elaborate cooking a challenge, then amuse-bouche can turn the plainest of meals into a gourmet feast. If you are already an accomplished cook, introducing amuse-bouche to your menu will take your lunch of dinner parties from good to exceptional. Primarily these exciting bites are vehicles for the chef's artistry, whimsy and one-upmanship. Above all, amuse-bouche cookery is easy, creative and fun. Following the success of 'amuse-bouche', 'amuse-bouche goes Latin' includes 128 recipes and colour photographs, all of which have been tried and tested by the chefs. The book also includes an invaluable guide to hot and not-so-hot peppers from around the world. A beautiful, full colour, glossy book with 180 pages, it will become an invaluable guide in your kitchen to authentic flavours and recipes from Latin America.