In Australia, Abigail Skinner is grieving over the recent death of her mother, Dorothy, when a solicitor calls to inform her of a bequest from her late Aunt Jane. Abigail is surprised to inherit an old oak trunk which according to Ignatius and Hilary, her older brother and sister, purportedly belonged to Jeremiah Skinner, a nineteenth century convict ancestor.
Included with the old contents of the trunk is a package of notes, compiled by Jane to write the ancestors’ family history, and two exquisite paintings by Jonathan Sargood. Ignatius is annoyed that a rare piece of Staffordshire pottery known as Canaliaware is missing and blames Abigail, causing a serious rift between the siblings.
However, it is a letter addressed personally to Abigail from her Aunt Jane that turns her world upside down. A well-respected actress, Jane confesses that thirty years ago, on giving birth to Abigail, she gave her up for adoption to her brother, Edward and his wife, Dorothy. Jane omits to name Abigail’s biological father. Such a revelation devastates Abigail, but she wishes to keep the truth for the time being from her brother and sister.
When Abigail further discovers three nineteenth century journals concealed under the false floor of Jeremiah’s trunk, she is deflected from her personal angst as she delves into the hitherto unknown history of her forebears, who lived in the Potteries of the British Midlands. Her ancestor, Leticia Skinner, writes of her Dame school, her twelve-year-old son, Jeremiah, her friendship with the narrow boat people of the canals, her reunion with Jonathan Sargood, a Royal Academician artist and her son’s father, and life thereafter in the gracious Winston Manor, home to the Sargood family of potters. Abigail immerses herself in the historical importance of the inland waterways, as various real life characters including Josiah Wedgwood, James Brindley and John Constable feature in the journals.
At the age of twenty-one, Jeremiah, now a part-time artist and potter, is accused of murder but when found ‘Not Guilty’, Jeremiah is free to marry Rosie, a working boat girl of the canals. However at the dawn of the Industrial Revolution in England and on the eve of the crowning of Queen Victoria, their lives are shattered when Jeremiah becomes implicated in a ‘forgery’ and is transported to New South Wales in 1838. When reading of Leticia’s despair in her journals, Abigail’s best friend, Sophie, a librarian, delves into old newspaper articles and court records in order to follow Jeremiah’s trail as a convict.
Throughout his years in NSW, Jeremiah dreams of returning to his mother, wife and two children, Meggie and Geordie. Shockingly, Rosie dies in childbirth and Leticia takes over the care of her grandchildren. Meanwhile in Australia, finally pardoned, Jeremiah meets up with Cornelia Greene, a free-passenger that he encountered on his convict ship. Then, in 1851, with the discovery of gold in Ballarat, Victoria, Jeremiah’s life takes another new turn.
After hearing of Caroline Chisholm’s Family Colonisation Scheme, Leticia sends Meggie, now married to Declan, an Irish famine survivor, and Geordie to their father in Australia. Jeremiah and Cornelia eventually marry and, with his children, settle in Ballarat before the Eureka Rebellion of 1854.
Still enthralled with her ancestors’ stories and knowing she was born in London, Abigail embarks on her own voyage of self-discovery to Britain. When searching for her biological father, she meets Olivia Nicholson and Norma Portman, two of her mother’s closest friends. They reveal precious details of Jane’s life, the mother she never really knew, and her own unexpected place on the Skinner family tree. She further finds love with Sam Fletcher, an Oxford academic, and discovers that her seemingly indifferent siblings could become loving cousins.
When the ancient past overlaps with her tender meeting with her biological father closer to home, Abigail finally finds peace.
- Categoría BISAC BIO002000
- Formato Epub 2
- Idioma Inglés
- Año 2018