The Summer of the Great Secret was Monica Edwards’ third book, and the second set on Romney Marsh. In this book, her earlier characters, Tamzin, Rissa and Diccon are further developed in a story which mixes modern elements – the making of a film in Dunsford about Queen Elizabeth I – with fishing and smuggling. As well as the children, fishermen Hookey Galley, Walter Goddard, Thomas Upjohn, Smiling Morn and Jim Decks all appear. All of these were based on real-life inhabitants of Rye Harbout with whom the young Monica Newton had grown up in the 1920s and 30s.
We don’t know whether, as a child, Monica was ever aware of or involved in smuggling activities such as those recorded in this story, but there is a long tradition of smuggling on Romney Marsh – both to and from the continent.
From the scene on the dustwrapper one would never know that the book contained smuggling, but this is Tamzin’s pony (from Wish for a Pony) and in The Summer of the Great Secret we see Rissa earn enough to buy a chestnut three year old. In 1948, Collins thought it best to market the book as a pony story, but although ponies feature, it is far far more.
As our extra for this title, we shall be including a short story, Caesar’s Fire, by Monica Edwards.