The story is set in the Kates Hill area of Dudley, the place in which I grew up. Then, it had hardly changed from the time in which the story was set and I remember it all vividly. It had narrow, hilly streets lined with terraced houses built in the locally-made red brick – a close-knit community, where everybody knew everybody else, and usually everybody else’s business. But it was a kind and caring community; people left their doors unlocked when they went out, and nobody would do you a bad turn if they could do you a good one. Now, redeveloped, it is radically different from how it used to be.
Some of the characters in The Dressmaker’s Daughter are drawn from life. Lizzie, the heroine, is a completely fictitious character however, but her mother, Eve, was inspired by my own grandmother. Two of the pubs that feature in the story, The Shoulder of Mutton and The Junction, actually existed but were demolished many years ago as part of the redevelopment of the area.
St John’s church, also featured, still stands but has been closed for several years. However, a restoration project led by Debbie Brownlee (Chair of St John’s Church Preservation Group), is achieving remarkable success in getting it reinstated. We must thank her and her team for their extraordinary efforts.
The Dressmaker’s Daughter is set between 1902 and 1929, so takes us through The Great War. Whilst there are no action scenes from the war itself, the problems, the heartache, and the temptations endured by the folk who were left at home are manifest.
Thank you to all those people who have read the book and have left so many 5 star reviews on Amazon, Goodreads, etc. It is so heartening for an author to receive such plaudits.