REVIEW: Lizzi Linklater’s verdict on York author Julie Fearn’s debut novel Northern Pole, launched at Spark: York on June 10

Author Julie Fearn

NORTHERN Pole is a novel with a story behind the story – how the author came to write such an authentic-feeling novel.

But first, Northern Pole tells the story of Roman Kozynski, a Polish refugee arriving in Northern England after the Second World War, determined to build a new life for himself.

In 1940, 14-year-old Roman was ripped away from his family when the Gestapo arrested them in German-occupied Warsaw. Roman escapes, and we meet him in Italy, then in a resettlement camp in Northern England.

There were camps all over England and one outside of York in Sherriff Hutton. Roman meets and falls in love with Bridget, a headstrong Irish woman, and they embark on a passionate relationship. At the same time, Roman continues his search for his missing family. When he reunites with his mother, things do not go as expected, and all hell breaks loose.

The cover artwork for Julie Fearn’s Northern Pole

Northern Pole is beautifully written, its descriptive passages gorgeous, observations of décor, architecture and body language built with unerring precision and often devastating effect. The novel, with its twists and turns, never fails to grip.

The author’s family history influenced Northern Pole. When she inherited a series of documents written in Polish and even Latin – birth and marriage certificates – from her late father’s past and had them translated, a story began to form in her imagination – one that would dip in and out of the ‘truth’ that she says can never be known because the participants are long since gone.

But the novel is a tribute to all those whose lives are torn apart by war, who must leave everything behind, sometimes even their identity. Northern Pole is a timely reminder that little has been learnt from history when refugees still flee from tyranny. Above all, it’s a cracking good read.

Northern Pole is available from Amazon as a paperback or Kindle book. or from a link on

Review by Lizzi Linklater, York poet and creative writing lecturer

Did you know?

POEMS by Lizzi Linklater are soon to appear in a 2023 anthology edited by Artemesia Arts and published by Mosaique Press. On the competition judging panel for the book were poet Roger McGough and Artemesia Arts co-founder and poet Sheila Scholfield Large.

Julie Fearn: the back story

JULIE is a Bradford-born, York-based independent author.

Northern Pole is her first novel, set in the 1940s and inspired by her family history.

Her father was a Polish refugee who made a new life in Bradford in 1946.  

The book launch

THE launch event will be held at Spark: York, on Saturday, June 10, from 6.30pm to 8.30pm.

“Drinks and nibbles will be provided and you will be treated to poet Lizzi Linklater inviting me to read a small section from Northern Pole,” says Julie. “And I hope she will read one of her glorious poems to you all.”