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Reviews of From the Mill to Monte Carlo

‘An utterly compelling and deeply personal account of a working class Victorian man who broke the bank at Monte Carlo. In telling the remarkable story of her ancestor, the author brings to life one of the most transformative periods in British history. Her painstaking research is as fascinating as the tale itself. Not to be missed.’ (Tracy Borman).

‘A thrilling true detective story that redefines family history. Anne Fletcher deploys impeccably researched social history on the Victorian north of England as the convincing backdrop to a portrait of a desperate man whose last chance is finding improbable luck, a thousand miles from home.’ (Jonathan Foyle).

An eloquent and captivating rags-to-riches tale, well-drawn, evocative of character, place and era; a fascinating read.’  (Amy Licence).

‘ Well this is a book that had me up for a few late nights. A true piece of detective work by the writer Anne Fletcher… An incredible story wonderfully told.‘  (The Last Word Review).

‘Joseph Jagger’s life in Bradford, the gambling history of ‘sin, scandal and suicide’ in Monte Carlo, and the biggest question – what happened to the money? – are all covered in well researched and entertaining detail… the author’s more than plausible explanation are of course the focus of the book, but there is also a wealth of information about local history, gambling, Monte Carlo and the Blanc brothers who built the casino. By the final chapter, there is no doubt that local lad Joseph Hobson Jagger is the one true ‘man who broke the bank at Monte Carlo’, winning a fortune by inventive (but legal) means. Anne Fletcher has done her great-great-great uncle proud! ‘  (Sarah Powell, Bradford Historical & Antiquarian Society).


‘This is a terrific read. Part biography, part mystery, part social history and all true! Painstaking research leads us on a fascinating journey through the life of Joseph Jagger – the man who broke the bank at Monte Carlo – and his descendants as we find out why he can did it, how he did it, and what happened to the money! Thoroughly recommended!’

‘What a cracking read – I could not put it down! Being familiar with most of the northern England places mentioned obviously provided an extra interest, but the story itself, so thoroughly researched, is wonderful. ‘

‘Fascinating read. Demonstrating how the most brilliant stories can be found on your doorstep, and the importance of not dismissing family tales, no matter how unlikely.’

Allow yourself to be transported back to Victorian England and the birth of gambling in Monte Carlo. It is told with such vivid detail and is an outstanding setting for an enthralling rags to riches story of a working class man. The ambitious and determined approach of the author to uncover the layers of time is integral to making this such a wonderful and absorbing read.

This is a well-researched and beautifully-constructed historical biography of a remarkable man. Having grown up with the story of her great great great uncle’s astonishing success at the roulette tables of Monaco, the author sets out to find how much of the family legend is accurate and why so little of Joseph Hobson Jagger is known. Anne Fletcher’s research journey is as much a part of the story as JHJ’s astonishing journey from working class Bradford to Monaco. For anyone hoping to be inspired by a hidden story in their own family history and how to go about finding it, this is an inspirational story.’

A really cracking read – even better for knowing it is a true story. This is a compelling account of mystery, discovery and detective work to reveal how an ordinary Yorkshire-man achieved something quite extraordinary. I was gripped from start to finish, not only by the tenacious research but by the fascinating insights into the life and times of Joseph Hobson Jagger, his family and the richly painted contextual details of everything from travelling abroad to gambling and casinos! If you love detective novels, historical fiction or anything biographical, you’ll love this – highly recommended.’

A truly fascinating account of an ordinary man who achieved something quite remarkable. Anne Fletcher creates a wonderful sense of the extreme hardship and exciting possibilities of the Victorian age and is obviously both a talented historian and storyteller. The book reads like a detective story with each chapter revealing new clues to the truth behind the man who broke the bank at Monte Carlo. I couldn’t put it down! Highly recommended.’

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