After writing thirty books for mainstream publishers, I decided to go it alone – more or less, and have just published The Cuckoo’s Daughter with the help of CountryBooks.biz. I bought the jacket picture from Shuttlestock and think it goes well with the story. Dick Richardson of Country Books was a helpful co-editor and recommended a printer.
The story is set in 1799 and seen through the eyes of Louisa, the foster-daughter of a farming family, the Edsirs, who lived in
vaguely known about Louisa through my
family tree but when I found out more, the story captured my imagination.
Louisa, though happy with her foster-family, longs to know who her real parents are – there is a web of secrecy about her birth. Her life changes when, at 16, she meets a handsome officer, Godfrey Macdonald, and they fall in love. But her foster-father refuses to let them marry and sends Louisa away to a horrible boarding-school. Godfrey doesn’t give up and they secretly elope to
Gretna Green. Louisa finds that her
parents are alive and even that her father is of royal descent - but neither
had ever tried to see her, although her mother leaves her a miniature portrait.
I felt sorry for Louisa, who must have found it hard to leave her foster-family even though she was deeply in love. To find out that her mother, especially, had never bothered to visit her must have been a great sadness.
I found interesting letters from Godfrey (later 3rd Lord Macdonald) at
and information from many other sources, but I didn’t know much about the 18th
century. I had to invent some
characters but be fairly true to others – the Tyrconnell family for instance.
The only Edsirs I found were in Hull University Australia! I was pleased to find out that the Vicar of
Esher at that time (who liked endlessly to recycle his long sermons) was
actually called Reverend Diggle, and one of the so-called priests at Gretna was really the
unpleasant Joseph Paisley, who liked to be paid in brandy!
My story ends at
but Louisa and Godfrey went on to have a very happy marriage – he wrote her loving letters
and a long poem when he was fighting Napoleon – and they had thirteen surviving
children. Louisa wrote a sad little poem
when Godfrey died suddenly at 57 and died herself, a few years later, at 53.
Anyway, I was excited to get a lovely review from Sir Michael Holroyd, which I will now proudly quote: “You have used your material most skilfully and the story is very well told. I am greatly enjoying every page…”
Now I’m working hard at promoting the book. Wish me luck, and thank you for reading this!