The Deserter's Daughter is a saga set in 1920s Manchester. It follows the lives of two half-sisters, who are very different not only in their personalities but also in their social standing, as they strive for respectability after their late father is revealed as having been a deserter.


With its intertwined plot-lines, exploration of relationships and strong female characters, The Deserter's Daughter is written for saga readers who enjoy character-driven books with an accurate historical setting and satisfying emotional content.



The Deserter's Daughter on the radio

In May 2019, The Deserter's Daughter was selected as the Book of the Month by BBC Radio Berkshire. The public libraries bought in extra copies so local people could read it in time for the programme the following month, when it was to be discussed on air by three reviewers - novelist and poet Claire Dyer, writer David Barker and the presenter, Bill Buckley. On the day, Bill wasn't there, so his review was read out by the guest presenter.


Here are the reviews . (4 minutes.)



1920, Chorlton, Manchester.


As her wedding day approaches, Carrie Jenkins is trying on her dress and eagerly anticipating becoming Mrs Billy Shipton. But all too soon she is reeling from the news that her beloved pa was shot for desertion during the Great War. When Carrie is jilted and the close-knit community turns its back on her, her half-sister Evadne and their mother, the plans Carrie nurtured are destroyed.


Desperate to overcome her private troubles as well as the public humiliation, Carrie accepts the unsettling advances of the well-to-do antiques dealer, Ralph Armstrong. Through Ralph, Evadne meets the aristocratic Alex Larter, who seems to be the answer to her matrimonial ambitions.


But the sisters have chosen men who are not to be trusted and they must face physical danger and personal heartache before they can find the happiness they deserve.



The audio version of The Deserter's Daughter is published by Isis Soundings.



You can hear a snippet from it here.



On Amazon



At Isis Soundings



The Deserter's Daughter is published by Allison & Busby.



Amazon UK


Amazon US


Amazon Canada


Amazon Australia


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Places in The Deserter's Daughter


 The Lych-Gate


The lych gate, with its distinctive octagonal bell-tower, was built in 1888 and these days is a listed building. It commands the entrance to the old, long-gone St Clement’s Church. The new St Clement’s Church up the road was in use well before the novel opens, which is why, in the book, the Armstrong family requires special permission to hold a family burial in the old graveyard.




Jackson's Boat





This photo, taken in 1915, shows Jackson's Boat - the bridge across the River Mersey that forms a link between Chorlton in Lancashire and Sale in Cheshire.


As Ralph reflects in the book: ‘Presumably somewhere back in the mists of time, there had been a boat and it had been rowed to and fro by a bloke called Jackson, but for as long as anyone could remember, Jackson’s Boat had been a bridge.’




Chorlton Green




If you imagine standing with your back towards the lych gate, you would face the green. The building in the background is The Horse and Jockey pub.


In the book, Chorlton Green is where the locals have created a temporary memorial for those who lost their lives in the Great War. It is also one of the places that features in Carrie's flight through the fog when she is running for her life. That tree on the left-hand side of the photograph is at the corner of the road Carrie came down in the fog to get to the green.

 Libraries: Archives & Local History.)

(The photographs above are reproduced by arrangement with Manchester Libraries: Archives & Local History.)




Wilbraham Road





This is the cross-roads of Wilbraham Road and Barlow Moor Road. As you look at the picture, Wilbraham Road stretches away into the distance, where Chorlton Station is. Mr Weston lives just beyond the station and Carrie visits him there, having agonised over what she can take to him.

"She decided to call on Mr Weston every week – yes, and she would take him a batch of scones or a slab of cake. After the first visit, what she really wanted to take was some slices of beef or half a dozen eggs. She was sure he wasn’t eating as well as he used to. But while cake was a gift, meat would be charity, so she couldn’t."


Behind you as you look into the picture is more Wilbraham Road. Ralph's antiques shop and the Lloyds are both down here.



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Writing The Deserter's Daughter


How Carrie and Evadne got their names.


Setting the story in Chorlton.  


My writing life, including information about The Deserter's Daughter.



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Reviews of The Deserter's Daughter


Review by Catherine Boardman:

" is brilliant... From the first word, you are in 1920s Manchester.... All the action takes place in Chorlton, which I have never visited but now feel as if I have. Susanna Bavin describes the streets, rivers and bridges with such feeling that I felt that I was walking the cobbled terraces. The plot twists and turns had me transfixed... Murder, theft, false imprisonment, fine furniture and romance weave their way through the book."


You can read the review in full on the Catherine's Cultural Wednesdays website.


Review by Tara Greaves:

"I turned the first page on Friday night and the next thing I knew it was 24 hours later and I was breathing a happy sigh as I closed the book. It is THAT GOOD...She has created nuanced, believable characters, who I was invested in from the start, along with an absorbing and colourful narrative... She writes with honesty and sensitivity about what it must have been like to be a deserter’s daughter. I felt the shame of the family as sure as if they were my relations."


You can read the full review on Tara's After the Rain website. 


Review by Julie Boon

"...this wonderful family saga...what a corker of a saga it is! Full of twists and turns. At one point I found I was holding my breath and eager to turn the page to find out what happened! Full of suspense, traedgy, a true saga furll of love and devastation (which is right up my street!) and I really cannot wait to read this author's next book...The attention to detail is wonderful."


You can read the whole review on Boon's Bookcase.  



Review on Jera's Jamboree

"Susanna Bavin has written yet another entirely engrossing tale of love, honour, shame and society’s prejudice.... also explores the themes of the distance in society’s boundaries between the wealthy, middle class and working class, that again distinctly draws lines which others may not cross.... I cannot wait to read another one of Susanna Bavin’s novels!"


You can read the whole review on the Jera's Jamboree book blog.



Review on Northern Reader

"This saga is an intelligent and complex study of family life when desire, money, greed and fear become muddled with loss and hatred.... What makes this book so special is the way that Bavin creates a world of deceit and criminality in which the innocent suffer, and mistakes are harshly punished. As in Bavin’s other book, the research into the era is absolutely impeccable, giving not only the facts but also managing to convey the feeling of the period in so many details.... Sometimes brutal, even tragic, the hope and love which perminate this book with the basic strength of the characters means that it is difficult to put down, as tension and surprises maintain the reader’s interest. A flowing and immensely readable book, I found it a fascinating read. I was so pleased to have the opportunity to read and review this book."


You can read the whole review on the Northern Reader book blog.



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Bits and Pieces


Publication Day



Publication day in 2017 was just wonderful. To celebrate, we held an afternoon tea for friends in the beautiful Imperial Hotel on Llandudno's promenade, with my talented husband providing musical accompaniment. (Yes, he was allowed to stop and eat.)


Some of my friends presented me with a fabulous flower arrangement - complete with an S in pink roses; cotton-wool flowers created by the florist (cotton = Manchester, the setting for The Deserter's Daughter); and all housed in a genuine 1920s mixing bowl, for my 1920s story.


The Deserter's Daughter at the library




I couldn't resist sharing this with you. You may have heard of the PLR. This means that when books are borrowed from the public library, the authors and illustrators and the readers of audio books receive a small fee. The PLR year runs from July 1st to June 30th.


Since The Deserter's Daughter was published on June 22nd 2017, it was in the PLR year for the final week of the 2016-2017 year. In February 2018, I received the statement of its loan record. That figure at the end of the line is the number of loans - 179 in one week. One week!


Lending Year July 2017 - June 2018


As a "stop press" addition to the above, I am proud and delighted that The Deserter's Daughter had a successful year in the public library, clocking up a wonderful 3,644 loans in total.


Many thanks to everyone who borrowed it. I hope you enjoyed it.


Something that writers are very proud of is "shelfies" - photos of their books on the shelf in the library or bookshop.


Here is my first shelfie!


The picture was taken in Llandudno Library early in 2018.