Introducing "The Poor Relation."

Posted on 12th April, 2019

Yesterday my editor emailed me a mock-up of the cover for my latest book, The Poor Relation. I can't share it with you yet, because it has to be checked and finalised, but I can tell you that it is a lovely cover and very appealing - I hope you agree when you see it!


Set in Edwardian times, The Poor Relation is about the two branches of the Kimber family. There are the Kimbers themselves - they have the title, the money, the family seat, the social standing; and there are their lower-middle-class relations, the Maitlands. John Maitland, a Town Hall clerk, is Sir Edward Kimber's cousin. The Maitlands live their lives walking on social eggshells. They have to be ultra-respectable so as not to bring the mighty name of Kimber into disrepute. The flip-side of this is that they also have to be aware of what the neighbours are thinking, because they mustn't seem to be trading on their grand connections and getting above themselves.


The Kimbers and the Maitlands see one another once a year when the Maitlands are invited to Ees House for Sunday lunch. On that day, the Maitlands have to be ready extra early because not only they must not keep the Kimbers waiting, they mustn't keep the Kimbers' coachman waiting either; and as they walk down the garden path to the carriage, they have to be careful not to smile too broadly in case the neighbours think they're showing off.



The story shows the social extremes of the time, so we have the Kimbers with all the privileges of rank - the mansion, the servants, the posh dinner parties - as well as the deprivation of the slums in which Doctor Nathaniel Brewer sets up his clinic for the poor. Social reform provides part of the backdrop - the means test, the upper-class charity committees and the women's movement to improve the lot of lower-class women and working women.


The story also touches on the place of women in society - the changing role of the female gentry and the push for better working conditions for women, as well as the forcible feeding of suffragettes. In Edwardian times, modern-thinking women sometimes chose to 'love, honour and cherish' in their wedding vows, instead of saying 'love, honour and obey,' and articles were written questioning the legality of these marriages.


It is against this background that the heroine, Mary Maitland, John Maitland's daughter, is inspired by her social-reforming friends to embark upon a journalistic career. But is it possible to spread her wings at the same time as being a duitful daughter and obedient poor relation?



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I hope you like the sound of Mary's story. If you do, it is published in hardback on May 23rd. Hardbacks are mainly for the library market, so do put in a request at your local library. The paperback will be published in November.


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Comments (8)

Jen, how lovely to hear from you. I'm so pleased that you like the sound of The Poor Relation. It is a book that is very dear to me for various reasons. I didn't know you had considered journalism as a career. I loved writing about Mary's experiences in this field.
I do indeed like the sound of 'The Poor Relation,' Susanna. It touches on issues--social reform and changing women's roles--that are important to me in 'real life,' as well as fiction.

I'm very much looking forward to reading Mary Maitland's story, not least because journalist is one of my career paths not taken.
Kirsten, I'm glad you like the sound of The Poor Relation. I hope you'll enjoy reading it. xxx PS I hope you're feeling better now.
Tara, it's good to hear from you. I hope you enjoy reading about Mary's work as a fledgling journalist. Thanks for dropping by.
Jan, thanks for your kind words. Yes, the role of women, especially their legal position is very important to me in my writing. If you read The Poor Relation, you'll find that Mary ends up in a very sticky legal position!
This sounds absolutely brilliant and right up my street! I can't wait to read it, Sue xxx
Love the sound of this, especially the journalism element. Can’t wait to read it.
I certainly do like the sound of ‘The Poor Relation’, Sue. I love the way that as well as writing great stories with very real characters, you always explore social issues of the time especially the role of women. I can’t wait to see the cover and read book four. 🙂📚