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It is 1965 and the air is light with the idea of freedom, love and the Beatles, but eighteen year old Jess, a feisty young woman with ideas of her own, is feeling stifled by her puritanical religious family background in working class England.

Keen to escape her mother’s narrow-minded Rulebook and rigid plans for her life, and her silent, strangely disturbing father, she plans to defer her university study and instead escape her past to flee to Ghana, West Africa, for a gap year, teaching and nursing in the jungle.

Her parents cannot understand Jess’s wish to leave behind her comfortable life in England and her perfect Quaker boyfriend, Simon.

In the 60s, Africa means darkness and danger to most people, not least her family, but to Jess it conjures up a picture of exotic adventure and freedom.

Little does she realise what this year will, in fact, bring: joys, horrors, love and tragedy.

As she struggles to comprehend the abject poverty and hopelessness of the people of Ghana, Jess begins to find herself and think about what she really wants in life.

She must find her way on her own and learn what fate has in store for her, as she becomes embroiled in the turmoil of the small war-torn African nation under a controversial and harsh dictatorship.

When she meets Jim, a handsome, friendly yet mysterious US soldier, Jess must face the dangers of both civil war and unexpected romance.

Where does she truly belong and can she escape her troubled past?

And why do the drumbeats haunt her dreams?

‘Drumbeats’ is the first part of a touching trilogy about finding yourself, falling in love and learning life’s harsh lessons.

Acclaimed, award-winning author, Julia Ibbotson says that she loves nothing better than curling up with a good book - and also writing them! She wrote her first full novel at the age of 10. Find her at

An author and academic, Julia also loves travel, choral singing, cooking for family and friends, gardening, yoga, country walks, and swimming - but mainly Earl Grey tea with sticky flapjacks for afternoon tea in the garden.

Praise for Julia Ibbotson:

“The book is a wonderful blend of personal story (one so many of us can identify with), enchantingly told, with recipes… It all spreads happiness. Lovely!” Bel Mooney, author and journalist, Daily Mail

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Julia Ibbotson

Award-winning author Julia Ibbotson is obsessed by the medieval world and concepts of time travel.She studied English at Keele University (England), after a turbulent but exciting gap year in Ghana, West Africa, and specialised in medieval language, literature and history, and she has a PhD in linguistics. She wrote her first novel at 10 years of age, but became a teacher, lecturer and researcher. Julia has published 5 books now, including A Shape on the Air (a medieval time-slip), a children's book (S.C.A.R.S, a fantasy medieval time-slip, a memoir, the first two books of her Drumbeats trilogy(the third due out soon), which begins and ends in Ghana. Apart from writing and insatiable reading, Julia loves travelling the world, singing in choirs, swimming, yoga and walking in the English countryside.

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