January 1900. Mother is dead, the baby too. It was her twentieth pregnancy. This tragedy clinches sixteen-year-old Rose’s resolve never to marry.
Rose Alleyn is an emotionally gripping story about the tension between a rural past and the lure of a new urban life, between family loyalties and new friendships and love.
Rose has been resigned to a life of mind-numbing drudgery in service, like five of her siblings, at Sawdons Hall. After going there to break the news of their mother’s death, Rose’s chance encounter with Leonard Pritchard, the charismatic tutor, changes everything. She finds solace as they talk about their mutual passion for poetry.
Leonard is to open a bookshop in the market town of Widdock. Impulsively, Rose writes asking him if she can be his assistant. Despite strong family resistance, Rose accepts his offer of a job.
Rose thrives on the buzz of Widdock and among the friends she makes there, including the enlightened Mrs Fuller, landlady of Apple Tree House. The negatives are a housemate with a grudge and the simmering hostility of two townsmen towards her employer.
As feelings between Rose and Leonard deepen, her old fears about the sexual relationship surface. What further threats will Rose confront? Will she ever lead the life she chooses?
This moving and heart-warming novel combines moments of gentle humour with a vivid evocation of historical time and place and thrilling narrative pace.