By the time I embarked on writing A Country Girl I was hooked on the Victorians and in awe of all their wonderful achievements. Society has moved on from those days, but the legacy lingers on – as does our transport infrastructure.

The story is convoluted, with plenty going on between the five main female characters and three males. Our heroine is Marigold Bingham, raised on a narrowboat plying the canal systems of England, illiterate but intelligent. The man in her life is Algie Stokes, the son of a lock-keeper on the Stourbridge Canal. I introduce some other interesting and appealing characters in Aurelia Sampson, the beautiful wife of Algie’s gaffer. Aurelia muddies the water between Algie and Marigold. There are Harriett and Priss Meese, likeable sisters who are always bouncing banter off each other, the enigmatic Murdoch Osborne, ladies’ man, local tradesman and leader of the local amateur dramatics society. There is Kate Stokes, Algie’s sister, reckless in her promiscuity with devastating effects for those close to her. You will meet Clara, Algie’s mother, his father, as well as Benjamin Sampson inheritor of the Sampson Fender and Bedstead Works, and Clarence Froggatt the architect who is besotted with Kate Stokes.

Writing A Country Girl was indeed a challenge, but it’s a strong story and I loved the characters who drive it along. It’s a work I am proud of.