The trilogy follows the lives and times of the Northing family, a fictional family living along the Somerset coast in the 18th century. The Price of Freedom follows the life of the eldest daughter Adriana; the second book, Redemption, follows the life of her younger sister Mary. The final book, Asunder, follows the lives of their parents, Timothy and Anne; each book will be a stand-alone reading experience (no “to be continued” smoke and mirrors); a reader can choose their favourite books and enjoy them again and again.
All three books are available through Amazon in both kindle and paperback formats; if you like Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer, I’m sure you’ll like this trilogy as well! If you read and enjoy it, I’d appreciate a great review; indie authors rely on reviews and word of mouth to reach a wider audience, and every good review helps!
The Price of Freedom
“Regardless of whether that which is most valued be wealth, or love: If it be true love most valued, it may cost riches and its accoutrements; but such a price would be nothing compared to the gain. If it be wealth most valued however, it will cost a great deal more in the end, I dare say.”- Margaret Westford
Adriana Northing, the daughter of a fisherman, is content in her own small world until James Westford, with whom she forged a secret childhood friendship against all social mores, returns from the Grand Tour. The son of a wealthy merchant, he covertly arranges to give Adriana a taste of Georgian London as his aunt’s companion. But as her mother’s past comes to light, Adriana can no longer return to the carefree days of her youth, and must forge her way in a new life.
Innocent and trusting, Adriana is propelled into London’s grandeur and intrigues. Will her friendship with James survive expectations upon him as well as the upheaval of their connection becoming known? Or will loyalty, trust and love be smashed on the cold rocks of society?
Each book covers a specific time period in British history; I purposefully chose 1788 for The Price of Freedom as I wanted to show the development of a “new middling” family separate from the context of the French Revolution. It was no easy task to research that specific time period in many aspects; most history books that cover the eighteenth century of British history tend to do “spot checks”, and 1788 is lumped into the “late eighteenth century” which is another way of saying “post-French Revolution period” – which it most definitely was not! Society, fashion, mentalities, habits, business, economics, and many other aspects of life changed distinctly and within a very short period of time; the French Revolution was a turning point in history, and not just for France, which means that the year prior was a completely different kettle of fish. Having said that, every shop, shop keeper, or theatre piece mentioned in the book are actual historical locations, people and productions in London, 1788.
“Mary revelled in rolling the words round her tongue like a piece of fresh, chewy toffee: “My aunt, Lady Metcalfe. My uncle, Lord Metcalfe.” Less than two years before, this simple fisherman’s daughter had never even heard of them and now she could not, would not, imagine life without such relations to refer to.”
Mary Northing, young, beautiful and naive, embarks on an adventure into the Georgian society of Bath. Revolution is brewing in France, making military officers a romantic and intoxicating topic for every warm-blooded young woman looking to her future.
Two men profess their love for her: One, the heir of a wealthy miser, and the other, the third son of a nobleman. Which will she choose? How can she know what the future holds for either of them? Will she allow herself to be guided by vanity and the lust for position and consequence, or will she listen to her heart?
Even the dust of a wrong path clings to the garments of the penitent traveller.
Redemption follows Mary, the younger sister of Adriana Northing (whose story is told in the first book), as she is unleashed upon Bath with the acquisition of newly gained wealth and relations of consequence. But she still has the naivety of her simple youth; unused to the society of intrigue, in good faith she makes some poor decisions with profound consequences.
As with anything I write, I did extensive research for this book; in particular, I spent several days in Bath museums taking copious photos, notes, and pestering curators with all kinds of odd questions. I spent an afternoon in the cellar of the Guild Hall, privileged to handle original maps and documents from the 18th century; I came away with a rich knowledge base from which to draw on while writing; there’s nothing that can replace on-site research! The smells, the sounds, the little details, the crowded streets that haven’t changed much since the 18th century (the carriages and horse dung have merely been replaced by cars and bikes and buses), the surprises that I never would have thought of but which add a wealth of detail to the writing process. I didn’t just write the story; I remembered it. In particular, I can still taste the waters of Bath… served hot off the spring from the fountain in the same room Jane Austen once frequented, I can honestly say I’ve never voluntarily tasted anything so revolting and I’m daily grateful for medical advancements that relieve us of that singular treatment!
Born into Georgian wealth and consequence, Anne Bentley feels increasingly trapped by the foregone conclusions of her life. In a desperate bid for freedom, she sneaks out in the guise of a maid to catch a glimpse of the wider world. Timothy Stannish, a humbly born man of honour, has risen through the ranks of the Royal Navy on his own merit. When he meets an enchanting maid at a country dance, their lives will never be the same again.
For Anne, choosing marriage with the man she loves means exile from everything and everyone she’s ever known, while accepting a life of risk and uncertainty. Her only other choice is to remain in the cold realities of her gilded cage. Timothy, in love with Anne, must either follow his heart regardless of the repercussions or honourably release her from their engagement. Are they both willing to trust each other with their lives? Can they stand together in the face of society’s derision, or will the pressures of life tear them asunder?
When I first began writing The Price of Freedom, I had no intention of it becoming a trilogy; but as the characters and story developed, I began to realise that there were actually three stand-alone stories worth telling, worth developing and researching. Each take place in widely different political and social climates, even though they all happen to the same family over a period of 30 years. Europe in general, and England in this particular case, was in flux; constant wars between France, Spain, England, and America destabilised the social and economic balance at the best of times. The wars drained society of their sons, husbands and suitors, or changed the focus and speed at which marital alliances took place. Jane Austen and her sister Cassandra were themselves unfortunate victims of this dearth of eligible and suitable marriage partners. But in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries Foundling hospitals and orphanages trained the boys for the military and the girls for domestic service as servants; while the girls rarely overcame their ranks, the boys had the possibility to show their mettle, to rise through the military ranks by virtue of their hard work and military prowess.
The Who’s Who of The Northing Trilogy
Born into a simple fisherman’s family, Adriana’s curiosity and energy exasperate her mother Anne, who has tried to instil in her daughters propriety of behaviour and speech despite their humble situation. Adriana has dark, curly hair and large green eyes, and would rather explore the beach than sit quietly to sew; she’ll gladly take over the household duties if it means getting out of sedentary activities. She fidgets, and prefers to go barefoot than be confined.
The younger sister of Adriana, Mary grows restless with obscurity, and armed with newfound confidence and consequence she embarks on a season of discovery, determined to make a good match for herself. Mistaken priorities may lead her down the wrong path, but she has the character inherent in a good upbringing, and will make the best with what she has, and what she becomes.
Mother of Adriana and Mary Northing, wife of Timothy. The daughter of a wealthy and proud man, she and her twin sister are viewed mainly with the indulgent eyes of a father intent on climbing the social and financial ladder through the auspicious marriages of his beautiful daughters, while their younger brother is brought up to understand his place as heir, with no sentiment about the matter. When Anne rebels against the expectations of her station and finds an escape one night, the course of her life is changed. She must make choices that will cost her everything.
Father of Adriana and Mary Northing, husband of Anne. His childhood was spent in a Foundling Hospital, also known as a workhouse orphanage. There he met his best friend, Robert Mowbray. Brave enough together to run away, they made their way hand-to-mouth on the streets of Weymouth until they were taken in by a kind-hearted old gentlemen. Just when their fortunes seemed at last to change for the good, they were kidnapped by a press gang and forcibly enlisted into his Majesty’s Navy. Raised by salt and sweat, again their fortunes seemed to turn favourably: Timothy meets Anne, and their lives unfold in the telling of Asunder.
The son of a wealthy merchant, he is heir to a large estate near Elandale, Somerset. His widowed father is generous and indulgent, but has a bee in his bonnet about James’ marital prospects: He’s expected to marry into the family of a neighbouring estate. He’s secretly known Adriana since childhood, having met perchance on the beach, and their friendship is both close and clear – they both know their destinies lie along different paths. Just returned from his Grand Tour, he undertakes to see that Adriana has a chance to see the wider world, and risks both discovery and censure in the venture.
The childhood friend of James Westford, his loyalty and humour are only matched by his stubborn commitment to integrity and honesty. He can be an uncomfortable compass for those he cares for, and suits his profession of minister well as a result. Caught between newfound responsibilities as parish minister and being a bachelor prevented from pursuing his heart’s desire by those very duties, he must learn to take his future into his own hands, come what may.
The childhood friend of Timothy, and brawn of the duo, Robert generally has a cheerful and “undampable” disposition. The visionary of the two friends, he nonetheless yields to Timothy’s stronger intellect. The two friends go through adventures thick and thin together, and when their marriages test them to the very core and events take shape in the navy that drive them to difficult decisions, their friendship is the only thing that ensures their survival.
The father of James Westford, he is a comfortably wealthy man, cheerful and indulgent toward his son in every point but one: Having given his wife his word of honour upon her deathbed that he would ensure her choice of a bride for their son and heir, he is unable to yield even in the face of true love, and the consequences bring him to a painful choice.
The widowed aunt of James Westford, Margaret finds her second spring in the companionship with Adriana. As she emerges from her widow’s weeds, she finds that life is worth living, and love is worth pursuing. She’s like a breath of warm summer breeze when she enters a room.
The younger brother of Anne Northing, at a young age he was forced to forego connection with his beloved sister when she chooses love over family and her father’s edicts. When at last reunited with her as an adult, he must make hard choices himself. As stubborn in his integrity as others are stubborn in their greed, he is a force to be reckoned with.
The twin sister of Anne Northing, the two sisters’ lives took very different directions: While Anne chose to escape the suffocation of a marriage of consequence without love, Jane chose to try her luck for consequence and love. Too complacent to deny herself the comforts which position and wealth afforded, she married young, and had to earn the respect of her husband before she found love.
The uncle of Adriana and Mary Northing by virtue of his marriage to their mother’s twin sister, Jane, he is an acquired taste: Gruff and stoic, he nonetheless has a kind core, if one can scrape past the crusty surface.
A dashing officer, Lt Polton has a charm that disarms. Armed with a smile, a promise and a generous dose of bravado, he fulfils his duties as leader of a press gang with gusto. The more he is revealed, the more his role in the navy seems a natural outflow of his person.