Tuesday, 10 January 2017

The Button Maker's Daughter Blog Tour

Today I'm joined by author of The Button Maker's Daughter Merry Allingham. Merryn's sharing with us the inspiration behind the story! 

It was a single image that lodged in my mind and set me writing. I’d made a memorable visit to the Lost Gardens of Heligan in Cornwall, near the southernmost tip of England. Over the past few years, the gardens had gradually been rescued from complete desolation and were still being restored. In their heyday in the late Victorian/Edwardian eras, their several owners had spent an immense amount of time, money and effort in creating a veritable paradise. But in 1914, war came to England and everything changed. 

On one particular day that summer, every gardener on the estate had downed tools together and walked side by side to Redruth, to enlist at the local recruiting centre. Most of those men, if not all, were to perish in the mud of Flanders. The Day Book, which should have listed every job done, carried only the date that day and poignantlywas never used again. With the loss of so many, it proved impossible to maintain the gardens and they slowly succumbed to the ravages of nature until they were rediscovered, ‘a sleeping beauty’, some thirty years ago. 

The image of those men, honourable and courageous, walking together to enlist in what they saw as a just cause, stayed in my mind, and I knew I had to record that moment in a novel. My fictional estate, Summerhayes, is nestled in the Sussex countryside, rather than Cornwall but like Heligan, it faces the threat of a war that looms ever closerIt also faces threats nearer to home. 

The daughter of the house, Elizabeth, is at odds with a society based on rigid gender and class divisions, that in The Buttonmaker’s Daughter burst into open conflict. She has struggled unsuccessfully to become a professional artist and now is forced to fight against her family’s choice of husband. Her adolescent brother, William, already a disappointment to his father, must confront his true sexuality. And a long-running feud with the Summers’ neighbours, fuelled by money and jealousy, intensifies to breaking point. As the sweltering heat builds to a storm, Elizabeth, her family and household, face danger on all sides. The summer of 1914 will change everything for them, as indeed it did for so many.

About Merryn

Merryn spent her childhood moving around as a soldier’s daughter, and the desire to travel stayed with her into adulthood when working for an airline introduced her to a vast range of people and adventures around the world. Later settling down in Sussex to raise a family, Merryn earned a PhD from the University of Sussex and for many years taught university literature until turning to her own writing. She has published six Regency period novels under the name Isabelle Goddard, and The Button Maker’s Daughter is the 5th title under Merryn Allingham. www.merrynallingham.com 

Follow Merryn on Twitter @MerrynWrites 

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