Thank you, Kathryn, and all your furry friends and familiars, for inviting me to be a guest blogger on The Nut Press. I’m really delighted to be here today, and to have the chance to chat about my new novel The Golden Chain.
A few years ago, I was rummaging around in what is charitably called my memory bank, trying to find the teenage and twenty-something faces of some people with whom I went to college, and who were organising a school reunion. I also found the memory of my first teenage romance, and I thought – I just have to write a novel about falling in love for the very first time.
I don’t know about you, but that first love – talk about being hit by a juggernaut, which then drives off leaving you bruised and broken and damaged for life. Or so you believe while it’s all happening. As I planned the novel, it all came rushing back to me – the elation, the misery, the insane optimism, the fear of losing the beloved – all those extremes of emotion which go with growing up.
So – The Golden Chain is the second story in a trilogy of novels about three British families and three pairs of lovers living through WW1, the Depression of the 1930s, and finally WW2. All the novels tell a complete story, but the second and third books pick up on elements from the first one. So, if a reader wants to know what happened to any of the characters in the first book, there’s probably going to be a way to find out.
This first novel in the trilogy is The Silver Locket, a wartime romance in which landowner’s daughter Rose Courtenay falls for local bad boy Alex Denham, who also happens to be married. Rose’s parents expect her to marry a different, much more suitable man. If Alex and Rose hadn’t fallen in love, their lives and those of their descendents would have been very different – and a lot more boring, too.
The Golden Chain is the story of aspiring actress, singer and dancer Daisy Denham, Rose’s and Alex’s adopted daughter. Who are Daisy’s birth parents? She wants to know, too! In some ways, the story is perhaps a 1930s take on Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. Like Romeo and Juliet, Daisy and wannabe actor Ewan Fraser (a green-eyed, handsome Scotsman with copper-coloured hair) are attractive, emotional, idealistic teenagers and, although nobody ends up dead in the family tomb, their families aren’t exactly delighted when Daisy and Ewan fall in love.
But Daisy and Ewan don’t care about what their parents think, and his gift of a golden chain seals the deal. Ewan and Daisy join a company of touring provincial players and, for a while, everything goes well. But then an older, more sophisticated man joins the group, he bewitches Daisy, and she breaks Ewan’s heart.
Ewan’s big ambition is to play Romeo and for Daisy to be his Juliet. As the story unfolds, it looks as if this isn’t going to happen any time soon. But this is a feel-good romance, so there’s definitely going to be a happy ending.
Of course, this happy-ever-after won’t come before both Ewan and Daisy have grown up a lot, suffered a few setbacks, and worked out what they really want out of life.
Margaret James is a novelist, a journalist working for the UK’s Writing Magazine, and she teaches creative writing for the London School of Journalism. She’s written a dozen published romantic novels (we’ll forget about the many ghosts and skeletons of unfinished novels gibbering away in the cellars of her hard drive, ahem), and she hopes to write many more.
If you’d like to win a copy of The Golden Chain, please leave a comment below by midnight on Wednesday, 6th April. Do you have a favourite piece of jewellery? If so, what is it – and why is it special to you?