Blog Tour: 'The Button Maker's Daughter' by Merryn Allingham
May, 1914. Nestled in Sussex, the Summerhayes mansion seems the perfect country idyll. But with a long-running feud in the Summers family and tensions in Europe deepening, Summerhayes’ peaceful days are numbered.
For Elizabeth Summer, the lazy quiet of her home has become stifling. A chance meeting with Aiden Kellaway, an architect’s assistant, offers the secret promise of escape. But to secure her family’s future, Elizabeth must marry well. A man of trade falls far from her father’s uncompromising standards.
As the sweltering heat of 1914 builds to a storm, Elizabeth faces a choice between family loyalty and an uncertain future with the man she loves.
One thing is definite: this summer will change everything.
This is a blogging week with quite a number of great blog tours I'm so excited to be a part of, and today it's time for author Merryn Allingham's latest historical fiction novel: 'The Button Maker's Daughter.' The book will be released this month and it's actually my first time checking out a book written by this particular author. I really enjoy reading historical fiction every now and again and I was curious to check out this novel and hoped I'd enjoy it! I also have some exclusive content from Merryn Allingham to share with all of you, so be sure to scroll down in order to not miss it!
Set in Sussex in 1914, 'The Button Maker's Daughter' tells the story of the Summers family who lead a good life in their beautiful family mansion, Summerhayes. But behind closed doors not everything is as peaceful as it may seem on the outside. Not only is war looming in the real world, but there are also battles being fought within the Summers family, and daughter Elizabeth finds herself in the middle of it. Her father wants her to marry a suitable husband, but Elizabeth can't get Aiden Kellaway, the assistant of the architect of their new garden, out of her head. Elizabeth will need to make some important decisions; decisions that will not only influence her own life, but also her entire family.
I have to admit it took me a bit of time to really get into this novel; it has quite a slow start and a lot of description instead of dialogue, but after a few chapters the characters managed to really intrigue me and I ended up thoroughly enjoying the story until the very last page. This was my first Merryn Allingham read and I loved how she managed to convey the feeling of 1914 England in her writing and link all the different characters and emotions together without things getting tricky or unreadable at any time. I straight away warmed to Elizabeth, but also really enjoyed that there were more storylines to focus on, such as her brother William, their parents, and some of the servants in the house.
Something that also struck me after having finished this novel is how the author managed to somehow make me feel for all of the characters. I could understand everyone's behaviour and reasoning to do specific things, even if I didn't necessarily agree with it. I am really quite impressed with Merryn Allingham after having read this novel and I hope to be given the chance to read more of her work sometime in the near future. On the whole, 'The Button Maker's Daughter' is a convincing and fascinating piece of historical fiction; a novel I am pretty sure any historical fiction/drama fans will not regret picking up.
Thanks to the publisher for providing me with a review copy in exchange for an honest review.
Exclusive extract from Merryn Allingham
I'm both honoured and excited to be part of the blog tour for 'The Button Maker's Daughter' today! Especially for the tour, Merryn has written an exclusive diary entry from one of the characters at a pivotal moment in the plot of the book. Be sure to check it out below!
Extract from Aiden’s diary:
Tonight I asked Elizabeth to marry me. I knelt beside her and gripped her hands so tightly, we became almost one. I had to make her understand that I cannot stay here, or my life will be over. I begged her to take a chance, to brave a leap in the dark.
I know I can make a good life for us both. I’ve the skill and the energy to be the best of architects. But she has led a privileged life, never wanting for anything. And if she marries me, she will be disobeying her family. I’m the last bridegroom they want to see. They’ve a true gentleman in their sights for that - certainly not an Irish orphan at a time when the very word ‘Irish’ is held in disdain. Even worse, I’m an Irishman that plans to emigrate. The day after I finish my work here, I’ll travel to Southampton and book the first available passage to New York. Then from New York, I can make arrangements to travel on to Ontario. I want her with me on that journey. I need her with me. But am I asking too much? Is it fair to urge her to travel thousands of miles from home and family? I know too well how wretched it is to lose one’s family.
But Canada is where I must go. It’s a pioneer land and it won’t matter there who I am or where I come from. It will be craftsmanship that wins the day and I can build a secure future for us both. She won’t live as lavishly as she does here, but she will have every comfort I can give her. And once we’re settled, we can work as a team. I’ll design the buildings and she must paint the pictures for their walls. She’ll be the professional woman she’s always wanted to be. When I said that to her, she looked as though she thought it an impossible dream. It is a dream, I admit, but it’s not impossible.
If only she can gather the courage to leave. As I write this, I’m fearful her ties to Summerhayes will prove too strong. But surely they won’t. Surely she’ll come. She loves me truly, I know she does. And I love her more than I can put into words. But I cannot stay.
The Buttonmaker’s Daughter by Merryn Allingham is published on 12th January (HQ, £7.99) If you would like to keep in touch with Merryn, sign up for her newsletter at www.merrynallingham.com