Maybe it is too early to start talking about Christmas. But I can’t get away from it if I’m going to talk about my next book, due out on 1 November…Christmas at Winterbourne.
Not a particularly compelling title but it says what it is. Winterbourne is the name of the lesbian guesthouse – almost a character in its own right. And the story takes place over Christmas when guests arrive for a seasonal holiday programme starting on the 23rd through to the 27th of December.
With five weeks leading up to the release of this, my fifth novel, I thought I would drip-feed some information about the house and the characters involved. I hope I’m not going to put off some potential readers by revealing that there are fifteen characters with an active role in the story. And that’s just the human ones.
There are also horses and dogs because this is, after all, a country estate. So I’ll start by introducing the two oldest characters, both in their late 70s.
The approach to Winterbourne House is up a long, winding drive with woodland on either side. Entering the drive from the road, the first building you see is the Lodge. The stables are located behind the Lodge.
This is the domain of Felicity Evans. The previous owner (we’ll come to her in a later blog) gifted the stables, the Lodge and ten acres of land to Felicity to ensure her security for her old age. With plans to continue giving riding lessons and boarding horses, Felicity advertised for a stablehand. Everyone expected she would hire one of the youngsters from the village who came for lessons. The candidate she chose, however, was a woman her own age.
Rose Hobday was a surprise appointment, not so much for her age, but for the fact she had no previous experience of working with horses. Felicity would say that it was her love of the game of Bridge that swung it. They formed a formidable Bridge partnership feared by opponents throughout East Sussex.
It was clear to those who know Felicity well, that the real reason was that she was attracted to Rose from the start. They had both recently lost their partners. Felicity’s husband had died of a heart attack the year before, and Rose’s lover of thirty years had broken her hip and succumbed to a severe bout of pneumonia while in hospital.
They may have bonded initially over shared empathy with loss and the grieving process but living and working together soon developed into a closer intimacy. (I’ll let you imagine them rolling about in the hayloft.)
The current proprietors of Winterbourne House (we’ll come to them in a later blog) rely on Felicity and Rose for providing, not just physical help in running the business (Rose is a good cook and Felicity knows all there is to know about the house and the land), but for their moral support. They are very much part of the family.
One thing Felicity has never revealed to anyone is how she lost the index finger on her left hand. Well, a woman is entitled to have her secrets.
Next week’s blog: Meet the Londoners
Read the beginning of Chapter 1 from Christmas at Winterbourne on the Affinity website.
Buying options for the books:
The Starling Hill Trilogy: