It is 1795 and Esther Coad is plunged into destitution when her mother, father and younger brother are taken by the Great Sickness. She is relieved when a distant relative offers her a home at Coad Farm in the tiny hamlet of Hamsey but soon discovers that the offer is not made in kindness but from the desire for cheap labour. She finds her relatives unkind and mean spirited and the work is hard, especially with the lipsy leg Esther has suffered from since birth.
Esther’s life improves when a new servant, Becca arrives. Becca is young, vivacious and pretty and in no time the girls become firm friends. One bright Midsummer's day they venture to the hiring fair at nearby Lewes, a decision that will trigger a sequence of events that will test Esther to the limit.
A tragedy leaves Esther with a tiny baby and mourning a senseless death. Esther fears for her own life and that of the child and runs away from the farm throwing herself at the mercy of strangers who support her as she fights to prove her innocence in the case she has become entangled in.
Can Esther escape the malevolent reach of the Coads and their accusations of murder and kidnap? Can she create a life for herself and Beth and triumph over the smugglers and the press gang who threaten her hard won freedom? And will she find the happiness she deserves at last?
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Absolutely first class, what a great debut for a new author.
Today I have finished reading your book. I felt that I connected with Esther very quickly after only about two chapters. At times I felt that I couldn't put the book down because I had to know what was going to happen. I learnt a lot about how people lived throughout those times and if my history lessons were as interesting as you have in the book I would be a lot more knowledgable.
I particularly liked the short length of the chapters. Let me know when the next book is at the printers.
Well done on actually achieving what was once your dream and that is now reality.
by Lyn Hayward
Finished book. Loved it....have you started sequel, I will get you to sign my copy when you are next in Lewes.
by Angie Eastbourne
Just to say I enjoyed your book very much. The content was good, and interesting story and I liked the short sharp chapters. always like to finish a chapter before I put a book down.
by Doreen, Midlands
Beverley Elphick claims not to be an historian yet she has researched the background for her first novel with an academic rigour worthy of that which she eschews. Elphick is a compelling narrator of time and place; a setter of scenes into which she successfully weaves her characters as they journey through the pages of their story. This is a book of nuance and detail that will delight those readers who demand an historical perspective imbibed with reality.
Alison Green has led creative writing classes in France and England and is published in diverse genres. She currently teaches academic writing skills to students with disabilities and learning differences at Bournemouth University
by Alison Green
Esther Coad is an unlikely heroine. Orphaned young and forced into 'skivvy'dom, she is no raving beauty (as such characters usually are) and her physical disability means that even her predatory master and his unpleasant sons do not target her, as they do the other female help. But Esther is no meek victim. She has character and pluck. Beverley Elphick gives us an engaging tale of one young woman's struggle against the prejudices, assumptions and deprivations of a grim and ruthless period of our history.
Rosemary Aitken is a writer and lecturer. She ran the Falmouth summer writing course for several years, and is the author of more than a dozen Cornish romantic novels set in the early C20th, and of the handbook "Writing a Novel - A practical guide." She is perhaps better known as Rosemary Rowe, creator of the 15 Libertus crime mysteries sent in Roman Britain, and contributes the forthcoming 'Writing Crime Fiction' to the Hodder Masterclass series. Two earlier light novels, written as Breda Lacey, have recently been reissued on Kindle.
by Rosemarie Aitken
Three Round Towers may not be a book for the fainthearted, as it tells a forbidding tale about life's struggles in the 18th Century. The story is effortlessly engaging and I was left with a sense of guilt as I returned to the real world without the trials and tribulations that the characters suffer. Life around Lewes unfolds slowly and I thought Beverley Elphick's representation of the town and the 'astonishingly beautiful' South Downs depicts old Lewes life in all its charming yet dark complexity.
by Belinda Maude for VIVA Lewes.
I found the book compelling. The research Beverley has done into the social history of the time is impressive as is the consistency of the dialogue and although the book is dark in places this must reflect the times about which the story is written. Can't wait for the sequel!
I just wanted to say I've just finished reading your fantastic book and really loved it. I bought it from you at Dilly and Martin's SSBS do the other week and for someone who rarely gets time to read two consecutive articles in the newspaper, I romped through your book.