Gillian Atkinson

People move on from unfortunate experiences, usually with the help of better associates. But, what of that which has been lost along the way, which should have been held secure and precious?


Even if we find wholesomeness, many carry scars from the past. And, we are left yearning that others would not go through similar unhealthy periods. If that helping hand had been there when we needed it, perhaps many scars could have been avoided.


Here is a short honest account that might shine light onto the heartfelt reasons for writing this series of novels:

My father asked, with adamant eyes glaring at me, 'has he ever hit you?'

The facts that I had just dared to entrust to him, were in that instant, blown away from significance. My spouse's charm, standing, and now I realised, eminence within my own family, far overrode any rational truth that I might try to share.


A peel of helplessness rang out from my soul, and I despaired for the countless others held within social restraint, which states, 'nothing is serious, unless you prove the physical marks of it!'


My heart wrenched, not so much for my own situation, but for the responsibility that we carried. I was capable enough to safeguard myself, but who was interested in the long-term progression, of how things for the children, were heading detrimentally? As a mother, the pain of this cut far deeper than any current upheaval.


I had thought that the one man who would understand, was the person who had trained me in an upright way of living. But my attempt to speak, fell on stony ground.


For those with an ear to hear, a multi-stranded fictional story has been created, which can be read from four individual volumes. It also draws on the history of past values and traces forward changing expectations of society, even to the affect it is having upon our new emerging generation.


Perhaps for those who have an eye to see.., they may even be those carrying similar experiences, who equally lack voice to be heard; perhaps there are those with the calibre to want to also seek tools for change?


May the novels be entertaining, but as with every good read may they also stir something of the deeper conscience within.



















In reviewing the completion of a Project, designed to recapture the virtues of a culture held within their beloved sport of skiing, the volunteers find that the challenge weighed heavily upon their own virtues.


Intensity of such a hands-on pursuit, surfaced deep seated elements of each volunteer's character. Some held to solid personality, whilst others revealed their not so amiable edges, becoming quite incompatible with their earlier aims of commitment.


Although the programme was not to blame, the ensuing boiling pot stoked by the sacrifice of time and energy, stretching personnel to the limits (either their personal limits, or becoming forcefully over stretched due to others' neglect). Relationships were tested to the hilt. Sadly, in procuring something aimed at benefiting the next generation, it was this very generation who incurred the most harm.


However, there was hope. Thanks to a benevolent character lingering in their midst, in his role as ski advisor to aid the needs of the Project, his peripheral vision, missing nothing of how the progression of the project was bearing upon each individual, made him an overseer in more than one way. He observed, but also bided his time, until he could release a plan. When the youths were of an age to make their own decisions, only then could he make his move.


The antidote was conspired amongst a team of like-minded mountain guides. They constructed a training course, which would immerse the youths into quite a different culture, from how they had been reared, caused partly from the consequences of the strain of the project. The incentive for the boys, now growing men, was that the opportunity would massively widen potentials of employment. Little did they realise that it had nothing to do with jobs, but would propel them into the true grounding for manhood.


The plan would absorb them within a society that still highly valued the importance of respect, integrity and appropriateness. Survival in the mountains demanded such basics. The shift of modernity found in urban life, which strove in the direction of self-indulgence, had no place within the structure of life that hung in amidst the extremes. Our benevolent character, Maurice hoped to cut across the self-focused influences forged by their father and sadly emphasised by their surrounding culture.


To test any progress, Maurice would use a litmus paper of their Mother, to see how deeply the boys had absorbed necessary basics of virtue. He had invited her to make a brief interlude with them. The story is unfolded mainly from the perspective of their mother's contemplation, spoken as she winds her way towards the arranged lunch appointment.


Meanwhile,her skiing friends joining her on the trip to the Chamonix Valley, which included the appointment, discover they have their own contemplations to make. Giving the Mother space, they take their separate excursion, which collides into unfortunate circumstances in the midst of the Mont Blanc Tunnel.


Their faithful friend, once again steps in to offer help. But, unexpectedly it is Maurice who turns the tables on them, in asking for their help. From the trust and understanding which has developed so fluidly amongst these surviving volunteers, their agreement is warmly forthcoming. In making their congenial response, they are allowed to unearth a far more impacting story that lurks in the annals of Maurice's history; far more significant, they see, than the traumas endured during their own Project.



The story reveals how people's intentions are so very easily swayed when the pressure of life presses upon them.

It is hoped that the story is a good read, but also there are various elements presented that may be pertinent to the reader's own life or that of people known to them.


There are situations in modern society, where things may feel unhealthy, but they doubt reach a level which warrants being labelled as a syndrome or a circumstance.

If this is the case for yourself, or if there is time to discover what are healthy levels of life

to aim for, then please take a look at the

Defining Lines Programme’ Page.









This novel also designed to run alongside the Programme in order to open up various topics.


I hope you enjoy the read,

and will become interested in the next part of the saga, which is an historic novel,

giving background to why Maurice carries his benevolent character.

defining lines picture

Published by:

ISBN 9780993243240

Kindle edition £4.40 (read the first chapter free)

Available from Amazon and Waterstones £8.95

and THE BOOKSHOP, 22, Church Street, Colne, Lancashire. BB8 0LG







An Epic Journey Through 200 Years


This historical fiction pans out into an epic novel, cruising through a journey

of two hundred years. There is a thread of benevolence running through it,

giving detailed expression to Maurice Bernardo’s background illuminating the

reasons behind his character.


Being Italian, his parents named him Maurizio. Living in a multilingual region, he was used to people changing the format of his name; it was all part of the tapestry of life, and having a mellow personality he never really minded. Strands of benevolence were the forte of his family, the elements had moulded and safeguarded his family for centuries. Their values and supportive belief enabled the family to excel, and yet humility keeps them relatively inconspicuous. As we read, we can deeper contemplate the reason why the Bernardos met with repeated survival, and perhaps see a thread of preparation, as one era precedes another.


Although fictitious, the novel serves as gratitude to the bountiful bravery and benevolence of those of the mountainous Alps and surrounding country, who brought rescue to the vulnerable in various seasons of atrocity, especially WW2 and the uncertain times surrounding that era. Moulding itself around true events, the story brings alive, how it must have felt to live through the varying phases of time.


Through the years, members of the Bernardo family were trained into using confidentiality as a necessity. It also became second nature for Maurizio. How much of a wrench must it have been for him to lose the ingrained habit, for posterity’s sake?


When he receives a terminal diagnosis, it was necessary for him to find ears that he trusted, to listen and possibly act upon what he was to release to them. The accounts of people he would mention had long since rested in safe domain, but somehow he sensed there was a delicate balance to the releasing of past information. His knowledge would fill volumes, but if he could give just a thread of the works that had held onto survival in the midst of catastrophes and barbarism, it would hand over sufficient records for others to deal with, as they saw fit. He sought out those who might have understanding of the deeper elements that he had to share, so that they would gain necessary impetus to pass on his testimony.


In the finale of book one, we learn of the huge assembly, gathering to offer respect to Maurizio. The throng well and truly depicted and confirmed the truth of his account, spurring on those he had entrusted to complete their commission of setting out his story. However, the work is delayed by tragedy, requiring someone who could equally appreciate the finer points, and set in place that which Maurizio desired the world to know.


His chronicle commences in 1816. Fortunes of the day are outlined, and the story of how the Bernardos, because of the renown of their wise conduct and decisions, were passed a gift that continued to blossom and grow. Although many, in the first instance, may not have seen it as a gift, it miraculously comes into immediate use as it delivers salvation for survival. The time of famine caused by ‘The Year Without a Summer’ occurred that same year. It was the consequences following the huge volcanic eruption on Mount Tambora in 1815, which blighted so many globally.


Progression of time sees the further undulation of the usefulness of the gift. It often fell dormant in more prosperous times, but always stood in the wings, ready to be sparked back into life, renewing hope, when hospitality was required.


The chronicle moves on to pre-war times of WW1, which tells of the eventual strides, which Maurizio’s mother makes towards emancipation. Her ideals are spurred on by a chance meeting and encouragement from the heroine nurse Edith Cavell. His mother’s daring self-sufficiency, takes her from life in Holland to visit friends in Italy, only to become trapped there, with the outbreak of war.


Eventually, serving as a nurse, she encounters her future husband in the gruelling episodes of the White War in the Dolomite Mountains. The hardened Italian combatant rolls into her Medical Unit more than once, and she witnesses firstly his physical deterioration, then later sees what the savagery of ill-trained officers mixed with the hell of war amidst the ice and almost inaccessible, cramped conditions, had done to his mind. The couple go through their own turmoil, but eventually grow in strength together, adventuring to contest defects caused by such extreme mental anguish, in their own unique way. To help this process, the Bernardo’s family Gift is once again to play its part, in offering a safe place to fight the mental demons, and establish a new life together.


This protected place brings Maurizio and his brother into the picture. Here family values and remote location, equip them with stealth to endure the years of Fascist upheaval. Such times become preparation for survival for themselves and others, from the schemes of the Nazis in WW2.


Maurizio firstly discovers how it feels to be fleeing the enemy. His post in Scilly is uprooted by invading Allied Forces. In the confusion of retreat and the ensuing indoctrination of gnarling Nazi overlords, he had no intention of becoming just a part of their slave labour, even though he is a patriot to his country. In the chaos, he uses his mountain skills to sneak his way along the coast and mountainous landscape, up the leg of Italy towards his home on the northwest border. But, events delay him, encountering a ditched Allied pilot; he takes the responsibility to get him returned. The journey involves contacting Partisans and setting up communication links. Little does Maurizio realise that this will become the first of so many links he will make in getting victims to safety. And yet, even when Hitler is defeated, not everything falls into a peaceful situation, and those he has helped, are forced back into his care, by the schemes of schizophrenic politics.


The intense prolonged time, of beating the wiles of the enemy, and then dealing with the political betrayal that followed, all took their toll upon Maurizio. Another type of exhaustion ensued. It didn’t incur a rift in his personality as had happened to his father, but it was strong enough to detach him from love of his homeland. The high reaching mountain sides that once he used to regard as the warm embrace of home, he now felt were caving in on him. He had to find freedom, and in doing so, assumes the wide open skies of North America will be the answer.


The distraction of new found life is the relief he believes he needs, until further challenge besets him. This new life brings a whole wave of contemporary ideals and a pampering lifestyle. As he observes, he is met with the demand to become subservient to the new order; modernity clearly was the new ruling force.


Virtues he had learnt as a child were evidently not those of this culture. Instead, his work as mountain ski guide was turned into entertainer and nursemaid. The wheels were changed; he was no longer to expect respect, but he was to give respect and follow whatever needs the clients demanded. It wasn’t a wholesale situation. There were still adults wanting to learn, who could appreciate the necessity of Maurizio’s skills, but the Company he worked for had chosen to bow to families wanting their children to be pampered. These immature younger ones were being given the steering wheel of choice, without the means to choose. In Maurizio’s eyes, it was chaos in the making. These were city folk, who could make their demands, as they brought with them a whole new enticing affluence.


The oasis of Maurizio’s contentment became far too challenged, and his remembrance of home no longer brought shudders of dark foreboding walls. Now he viewed the sheer glistening rock as wide outstretched hands and he ran headlong back to them.


Maurizio had bolted from the two scenes for two very different reasons. The first was the drawing towards an easier life sought only because of the deprivation of sheer exhaustion; but the second was due to the catapult of escape.


Waiting for him all along were the opportunities of life that most suited him. He found the camaraderie of likeminded workers, and most of all there was a girl, just around the corner with whom he opened yet another chapter of life.


But, escape only happened for a season. New modes of transport eventually brought the masses flooding up the valleys of his remote Alpine retreat, and modernity brayed at the door, to receive attention. Maurizio was forewarned of its intention, but it was his son instead who was enticed into its lure.


Despite Maurizio’s subtle swathes of warning, he had little effect when the tragedy of loss hits the scene. His son is blinded with grief and also a new kind of countenance, totally beguiles him. North America once again beckons a better life, and here his son choses not just to dabble but to put down firm roots. It deeply offends the son, when Maurizio refuses to follow his son’s advice to join him in the lucrative business he has formed. The pair become separated even after his son’s marriage and the birth of the Maurizio’s grandchildren, as business life facilitates following the dream of high standards, keeping his son engrossed in distraction.


Underlying, the life he has created is not all that he exudes it to be, but Maurizio’s son is set as though on a tread mill of expectation. Internally, he sees his life crumble and his family disintegrate. But, there are answers. In Maurizio daring to share the annals of his past, and the virtues of the helping hand that he so often gave there are elements linked together that offer future seasons of hope.


In the finale of book one, Maurizio’s son sees a new perspective on life, particularly on the life of his father. He starts to better understand what his father had tried to say to him, so many years before. The question is, does his new understanding have influence? Perhaps, but that would required the strength of extra helping hands, we must wait and see.











Edith Cavell of WW1

The Partisans of WW2



Third Publication



The Actual Ski Project


An honest appraisal of the start-up and adventures surrounding the establishment of a new idea; the social barriers that were overcome and the comparison of individual stories of how each responded to the additional pressure in their lives.

The effects of the fall-out, and the answers that were forth coming.





Fourth Pubication



What happened to Christopher and Michael and where did they take the abundant gift provided to them?


How impacting were their future endeavours?


Did the legacy continue?