10 March 2017

Guest Post: Ambition & Destiny Part 1: Hooks & Eyes, by Val McBeath

New on Amazon UK and Amazon US

To start again, you must leave the past behind...
England 1846: Widowed with two small children, Mary Jackson fears for the future. Moving to the town of Birmingham, she hopes to put her troubled past behind her. Mr Wetherby craves respectability. His only priority is growing his hooks and eyes business, and he'll stop at nothing to get his own way. When their paths cross, Mr Wetherby is not prepared for the impact Mary has on him. 

Set in Victorian England, Hooks & Eyes is Part 1 of 
The Ambition & Destiny Series. 

Often when books, films or TV depict the 19th century, they focus on either the upper classes/aristocracy or the impoverished lower classes. It is much less common to come across stories about the aspiring working or middle classes. In reality, however, the 19th century saw a phenomenal rise in the number of middle-class households.

My interest in the Victorian era started when I was researching my family history. I was intrigued to know if there was any truth to the rumour that our family had once been very wealthy. Based on our circumstances during the 20th century, it seemed highly improbable, but this begged the question. If my ancestors were wealthy, where did the money go? Did it pass out of the family as a result of a death and re-marriage as we had been lead to believe?

As I picked my way through an assortment of historical records, it appeared that, yes, the family had once been very wealthy, but no, the money did not leave the family as a result of a re-marriage. It was much more complicated than that. As I delved deeper, the story I uncovered astounded me. The more I learned, the more I needed to know and within a couple of years the idea of turning it into a book started to build. With no clue about where to start, however, I pushed the idea to the back of my mind … for a while at least. 

Eventually, the idea wouldn’t leave me alone, and I started to write. Initially, didn't expect to produce more than about a hundred pages, but now, six years later, I have a five-part family saga entitled The Ambition & Destiny Series. Part 1, Hooks & Eyes, was published on March 9th, 2017. 

The story takes place in and around Birmingham, England, and was triggered by an event in 1839 that changed the family’s future forever. This event is the basis of a short story prequel to the series, Condemned by Fate, and is based on three months in the life of my great, great, great grandfather. 

The main series (Hooks & Eyes) starts in 1846 with the family moving to the town of Birmingham. At first, they struggle to survive among the back-to-back houses, but eventually, they leave their working-class origins and become part of the affluent middle classes. Unfortunately, the good life doesn’t last and with one fateful event in 1882, followed by a second in 1885, everything changed.

As the story started almost two hundred years ago there are no living relatives who have any knowledge of the people involved. That means I have no idea how close to the truth the story comes. All births, deaths and marriages are correct, and most of the major storylines are based on fact. Many of the sub-plots and all characterisations, however, are fictitious. Not wishing to cause any upset, names and places have been changed to protect the identity of the real individuals.

Initially, one of my biggest regrets was that I didn’t find out what happened in time to tell my grandfather. I think he spurred my interest in the whole story because he lived with the shame of being made homeless as a child when his father couldn’t pay the rent. Knowing what I know now, however, I think it’s perhaps as well he didn’t know the truth.

Hooks & Eyes is Part 1 of The Ambition & Destiny Series. A compelling family saga of love, loss and betrayal set in Victorian England. The eBook is now available on Amazon and is free as part of Kindle Unlimited. The paperback is due in April 2017.

Val McBeath
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About the Author

Val McBeath is a scientist by training and has worked for the pharmaceutical industry for many years. Born and raised in Liverpool she now lives in Cheshire with her husband, two daughters and cat. In addition to Family History her interests include rock music and Liverpool Football Club. Her Ambition & Destiny Series is set in Birmingham (UK) between 1846 and 1890 and is very much a work of fiction. Find out more at Val's website http://valmcbeath.com/historical-fiction-author/ and find her on Facebook and Twitter @valmcbeath.

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