A Family Affair was inspired by events that must have affected the life of my grandmother. Her father died when she was in her teen years, leaving her mother to run the family butchery business. Later, my grandmother – still unmarried at 21 years of age – learned that her widowed mother was about to remarry, but to a younger man who also owned a butchery business. While she was alive it never occurred to me to ask her how she felt about all that, or the effect it had on her. So I invented events, changing various circumstances.
Firstly, I changed the widowed mother’s business from butchery to a home brew pub because it offered more scope for the story I had in mind, and the business of the suitor (Jake Tandy) to that of a market trader. To add spice to the story I introduced a pretty step-sister (Ramona), who might become Clover’s rival in love; then I introduced to the business the younger brother of Jake Tandy – Elijah – a former soldier. Elijah really set the cat among the pigeons!
Then there was Ned Brisco, an admirer of Clover. Ned was what you might call an “anorak” today, due to his passion for and knowledge of manned flight in heavier-than-air machines (we’re in the year 1905 here, so think “Wright Brothers”). He never really stood a chance with Clover, nor with Ramona either, but he was one of those quiet ones that “sup the broth” . . . Another of Clover’s admirers was Tom Doubleday, who found that also Ramona also had her charms . . .
A Family Affair was a challenge to write, especially as I knew nothing about brewing beer as practised in the early 1900s, nor did I know very much about those early flying machines – but the intense research into both and into the social history of the period was enjoyable and rewarding. Research plays such a huge part in the construction of any novel, but is a facet often overlooked by the reader.
I do hope you enjoy reading A Family Affair, and the lovely double twist at the end!