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The Buttonmaker's Daughter

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The novel is set in the long, hot summer of 1914 on a large estate famous for the beauty of its gardens. Summerhayes should be a place of calm and tranquillity, but is riven with conflict – between neighbours, within the family itself, and on a far larger scale with the rumblings of war in Europe growing louder every day.
This is an image of a court presentation in the Edwardian era. My heroine's father goes to great trouble and expense to ensure his daughter is presented to the king and queen (Edward VII and Alexandra) to increase her chances of a 'good' marriage.

This is an image of a court presentation in the Edwardian era. My heroine's father goes to great trouble and expense to ensure his daughter is presented to the king and queen (Edward VII and Alexandra) to increase her chances of a 'good' marriage.

The Summerhayes mansion contains a great deal of decorative stained glass. Joshua Summer was a one time button maker and has an eye for beauty. When the sun shines, the walls are massed with swirls of reflected colour.

The Summerhayes mansion contains a great deal of decorative stained glass. Joshua Summer was a one time button maker and has an eye for beauty. When the sun shines, the walls are massed with swirls of reflected colour.

An art deco sitting room. I chose this image in particular because of the colour and the smell of the wood. This is how I imagined Summerhayes to look - its golden oak making it light and bright, despite the conflicts raging within.

An art deco sitting room. I chose this image in particular because of the colour and the smell of the wood. This is how I imagined Summerhayes to look - its golden oak making it light and bright, despite the conflicts raging within.

Today I’m delighted to welcome Merryn Allingham to Virtual Book Club, the interview series in which authors have the opportunity to pitch their novels to your book club.  Merryn Allingham worked for many years as a university lecturer and between job, family and pets, there was little time to write. But when the pressures eased, she...» Continue Reading

Today I’m delighted to welcome Merryn Allingham to Virtual Book Club, the interview series in which authors have the opportunity to pitch their novels to your book club. Merryn Allingham worked for many years as a university lecturer and between job, family and pets, there was little time to write. But when the pressures eased, she...» Continue Reading

Historical Fiction | The Buttonmaker's Daughter by Merryn Allingham

Historical Fiction

Historical Fiction | The Buttonmaker's Daughter by Merryn Allingham

The first jigsaw puzzles were produced in the late 1700s by mapmakers mounting maps on hardwood and cutting pieces out with a maquetry saw. But the jigsaw's heyday was around 1900, when puzzle makers began to experiment with smaller pieces, often using people as their subject. This one is called Poinsettia and features at the end of the novel to suggest a resigned calm at Summerhayes.

The first jigsaw puzzles were produced in the late 1700s by mapmakers mounting maps on hardwood and cutting pieces out with a maquetry saw. But the jigsaw's heyday was around 1900, when puzzle makers began to experiment with smaller pieces, often using people as their subject. This one is called Poinsettia and features at the end of the novel to suggest a resigned calm at Summerhayes.

Summerhayes doesn't look exactly like this, but the chimneys, the lawn, the pergola are all aspects of my fictional house. It's owner, Joshua Summer, set out to build a spanking new mansion in 1900 and that meant the Arts and Craft style.

Summerhayes doesn't look exactly like this, but the chimneys, the lawn, the pergola are all aspects of my fictional house. It's owner, Joshua Summer, set out to build a spanking new mansion in 1900 and that meant the Arts and Craft style.

I love this art deco bedroom - the beautiful wardrobe and those wonderfully patterned rugs make me very jealous. They had to go into a novel! For me, this was Elizabeth's room, a bedroom fit for a heroine.

I love this art deco bedroom - the beautiful wardrobe and those wonderfully patterned rugs make me very jealous. They had to go into a novel! For me, this was Elizabeth's room, a bedroom fit for a heroine.

The Buttonmaker’s Daughter  by Merryn Allingham | Review | Historical Novels Review

The Buttonmaker’s Daughter by Merryn Allingham | Review | Historical Novels Review

The Buttonmaker’s Daughter  by Merryn Allingham | Review | Historical Novels Review

The Buttonmaker’s Daughter by Merryn Allingham | Review | Historical Novels Review

I took this photograph at Standen House in West Sussex. It's a reminder of just how much drudgery was involved in maintaining a large house and estate such as Summerhayes and affording its inhabitants a life of leisure.

I took this photograph at Standen House in West Sussex. It's a reminder of just how much drudgery was involved in maintaining a large house and estate such as Summerhayes and affording its inhabitants a life of leisure.

This image is of part of the Lost Gardens of Heligan in Cornwall. The picture was an inspiration for the flower gardens and greenhouses of my fictional estate of Summerhayes.

This image is of part of the Lost Gardens of Heligan in Cornwall. The picture was an inspiration for the flower gardens and greenhouses of my fictional estate of Summerhayes.

More humble but still beautiful - the huge expanse of vegetable gardens which at Summerhayes feeds not only the family but every employee and their families too!

More humble but still beautiful - the huge expanse of vegetable gardens which at Summerhayes feeds not only the family but every employee and their families too!

This is how I imagined the temple at Summerhayes - it's the focal point of the Italian Garden (the piece de resistance of the gardens), a place where lovers meet but murder is committed.

This is how I imagined the temple at Summerhayes - it's the focal point of the Italian Garden (the piece de resistance of the gardens), a place where lovers meet but murder is committed.

A tea dress - not so fine as court clothes, but considerably finer than everyday Edwardian women's wear.

A tea dress - not so fine as court clothes, but considerably finer than everyday Edwardian women's wear.


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5 Best Picnic Locations in Rome (and where to buy the food) Rome Italy Europe

5 Best Picnic Locations in Rome (and where to buy the food) Rome Italy Europe

tea gown 1908

Entertaining Visitors in an English Country House, such as Downton Abbey: PBS Masterpiece Classic

The first jigsaw puzzles were produced in the late 1700s by mapmakers mounting maps on hardwood and cutting pieces out with a maquetry saw. But the jigsaw's heyday was around 1900, when puzzle makers began to experiment with smaller pieces, often using people as their subject. This one is called Poinsettia and features at the end of the novel to suggest a resigned calm at Summerhayes.

The first jigsaw puzzles were produced in the late 1700s by mapmakers mounting maps on hardwood and cutting pieces out with a maquetry saw. But the jigsaw's heyday was around 1900, when puzzle makers began to experiment with smaller pieces, often using people as their subject. This one is called Poinsettia and features at the end of the novel to suggest a resigned calm at Summerhayes.

More humble but still beautiful - the huge expanse of vegetable gardens which at Summerhayes feeds not only the family but every employee and their families too!

More humble but still beautiful - the huge expanse of vegetable gardens which at Summerhayes feeds not only the family but every employee and their families too!

Men often went to the recruiting office with friends and ended up in the same battalion, Encouraging men to join up with their friends or colleagues was a useful way to recruit even more soldiers, and help maintain spirits in difficult times.They were known as the Pals Battalions. My fictional gardeners at Summerhayes down tools and walk to Worthing to sign up for one.The picture is of Lowther's Lambs, a pals battalion based in Sussex.

Men often went to the recruiting office with friends and ended up in the same battalion, Encouraging men to join up with their friends or colleagues was a useful way to recruit even more soldiers, and help maintain spirits in difficult times.They were known as the Pals Battalions. My fictional gardeners at Summerhayes down tools and walk to Worthing to sign up for one.The picture is of Lowther's Lambs, a pals battalion based in Sussex.

This image is of part of the Lost Gardens of Heligan in Cornwall. The picture was an inspiration for the flower gardens and greenhouses of my fictional estate of Summerhayes.

This image is of part of the Lost Gardens of Heligan in Cornwall. The picture was an inspiration for the flower gardens and greenhouses of my fictional estate of Summerhayes.

The Dinner by Herman Koch, http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B008DSEF6Q/ref=cm_sw_r_pi_dp_oozpsb09299S5

The Dinner by Herman Koch, http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B008DSEF6Q/ref=cm_sw_r_pi_dp_oozpsb09299S5

Ashes to Dust by Yrsa Sigurdardottir, http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B003Y3BLO4/ref=cm_sw_r_pi_dp_6QDWtb17VT54D

Ashes to Dust by Yrsa Sigurdardottir, http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B003Y3BLO4/ref=cm_sw_r_pi_dp_6QDWtb17VT54D

With my summer reads, I wanted to escape to warmer climes, and to stories that had nothing whatsoever to do with politics. Read more here. http://www.helenahalme.com/?p=3508

With my summer reads, I wanted to escape to warmer climes, and to stories that had nothing whatsoever to do with politics. Read more here. http://www.helenahalme.com/?p=3508

A fantastic book about Philippines and faith.

A fantastic book about Philippines and faith.

Nourishment by Gerard Woodward, http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/0330518631/ref=cm_sw_r_pi_dp_NWErrb1ZV5RM7

Nourishment by Gerard Woodward, http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/0330518631/ref=cm_sw_r_pi_dp_NWErrb1ZV5RM7

Shooting Butterflies by Marika Cobbold, http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/0747568103/ref=cm_sw_r_pi_dp_CCUxrb1NRK17P

Shooting Butterflies by Marika Cobbold, http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/0747568103/ref=cm_sw_r_pi_dp_CCUxrb1NRK17P

Life after Life by Kate Atkinson. Just finished this compelling novel about a woman with the great (mis)fortune to be born again as the same person each time she dies. Set between the world wars, the British protagonist plays out different paths in life with each rebirth. Excellent. Especially the scenes on the London Blitz

Life after Life by Kate Atkinson. Just finished this compelling novel about a woman with the great (mis)fortune to be born again as the same person each time she dies. Set between the world wars, the British protagonist plays out different paths in life with each rebirth. Excellent. Especially the scenes on the London Blitz