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Belinda Starling 

Belinda died in August 2006 from complications following surgery. She was 34.

I had the very considerable pleasure of meeting Belinda and seeing her perform at the Wivenhoe Folk Club.  She was looking forward to seeing her first novel ‘The Journal of Dora Damage’ published by Bloomsbury here and in the US. Her husband Mike Trim has seen this project through for her.

Her death at such an early age is a tragedy for Mike, her children and all her knew her. Cllr Peter Hill

Belinda was a talented singer-songwriter who has entertained many of us locally and further afield with her songs about love, life and the sea.

Belinda Starling 

In 2006 she was working on her first album with musician and producer (and husband) Mike Trim, in amongst editing a book to be called The Journal of Dora Damage, whilst developing her second book, and being a mother of two small children………A life cut too short, but her achievements will live on, and she will be remembered. Remembered not just by those who knew her as a person, but by anybody who has heard her sing or read her book. 

London, 1860. Dora Damage illicitly takes over her ailing husband’s bookbinding business, only to find herself lured into binding expensive volumes of pornography commissioned by aristocratic roués. Her indefatigable spirit carries her so far through this rude awakening, but when a mysterious fugitive slave arrives at her door to whom she is duty-bound to offer an apprenticeship, she realises she has become entangled in a web of sex, money, deceit and the law, which only grips tighter the more she struggles against it.

The Journal of Dora Damage whips up a vision of London when it was the largest city in the world, swamped by the filth produced by a swollen population; its sweat, stench and misery are both the details and the bigger issues of the book. Against a backdrop of power and politics, work and idleness, conservatism and abolitionism, it explores the many ‘binds’ operative at all levels of society – the restrictions of gender, class and race, and the ties of family and love – and examines the price at which freedom can be obtained by the transgression or acceptance of society’s rules and taboos. 

Despite – or perhaps because of – its setting, The Journal of Dora Damage is an unashamedly modern novel, whose themes seem just as relevant today, and which seeks to prove A.N. Wilson’s assertion that we are all still living in the Victorian age.  Belinda Starling

The Journal of Dora Damage is due to be published in November 2007.

Click here for more information about the book andherefor the book’s publisher, Bloomsbury.

Belinda singing with husband Mike Trim

All photographs: Harland Payne ©