The Lady in the Veil by Allie Cresswell – 99p offer (today only) @Alliescribbler

Published last month and attracting great reviews, The Lady in the Veil follows on from The House in the Hollow in the Talbot Saga series. It’s reduced, for today only, to 99p for eBook (down from £4.99). You can also find the other titles in the series on offer.

As background to the series, Allie Cresswell provided me with some historical context to the books as she looks at what makes a historical novel. However, before that, let’s take a brief look at the mysterious, lady in the veil.

The Lady in the Veil

What secrets hide beneath the veil? When her mother departs for a tour of the continent, Georgina is sent from the rural backwaters to stay with her cousin, George Talbot, in London. The 1835 season is at its height, but Georgina is determined to attend neither balls nor plays, and to eschew Society. She hides her face beneath an impenetrable veil. Her extraordinary appearance only sets off gossip and speculation as to her identity. Who is the mysterious lady beneath the veil?

 What is a historical novel?

Question: What is a historical novel? One that is simply set in a former era of time, or one that is specifically about historical events? 

Although my books are mostly character-driven, the ones set in past times must, to a degree, allow themselves to be driven by the historical events of their time-setting. You can’t mess about with the facts of history, although of course you can illuminate causes and consequences by showing how they impact your characters. Fashion, idiom, manners and cultural mores have to be accurately described in order to create the world that the characters will inhabit and give them the boundaries that applied at the time no matter how unfair or cruel we now know them to be.

In Tall Chimneys, the first of the Talbot books to be written (though chronologically the last) I allowed the distant rumblings of world events to reverberate in the strange Combe where the eponymous house sits. Both world wars, the rise of Oswald Moseley’s fascist party and the abdication crisis all impinge on Evelyn Talbot’s life. Other developments, especially the changes in moral standards and the gradual emancipation of women, impact her far less. Indeed, it is her ignorance of these things that cause her to retreat more and more into the refuge that Tall Chimneys provides. In that sense she is almost outside of history; it by-passes her, leaving no trace.

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The next book in the Talbot saga, The House in the Hollow, transports the reader back to the Talbots and their remote house in the 1800s. I felt historically comfortable, here in Jane Austen’s Regency. But my research informed me that the courtly and unimpeachable relationships between men and women in Austen’s genteel drawing rooms were very far from the actual shenanigans amongst the royal court and the nobility. This dichotomy proved a rich theme for the novel, and the Napoleonic war gave me a neat and plausible reason to remove the hero, leaving my heroine to the mercy of the double standards operating at the time.

So far the saga, so good the history. But the third book, The Lady in the Veil, found me in 1835, where I found a distinct paucity of historical hooks on which to hang the story. The Regency was over but the era of Victoria had not yet come. William IV was on the throne, a monarch largely forgotten by history. Wealth and power were slipping form the hands of the nobility but had not yet quite been grasped by the hands of the up-and-coming. The industrial revolution, whilst on the cusp in every field of technology from agriculture to waste management, had not yet taken that momentous leap. There were no significant wars. Unless my narrative could pursue Charles Darwin to the Galapagos (where he arrived in September 1835) or accompany poor unjustly-punished James Pratt and John Smith to the gallows in Newgate, it appeared that historical events could not aid me.

As the story developed, though, it transpired that some themes over-arch history and are as resonant today as they were two hundred years ago. The Lady in the Veil turned out to be about being judged by appearances, about how beauty – or the lack of it, the colour of our skin and the clothes we wear, were then – as they are still – seized upon by people who use them to make instant, often wildly inaccurate, cruel, biased, and ill-informed judgements about us. My character, Georgina, wears a veil, for reasons that the book explains, but her determination to hide her face only makes people more avid to know what she looks like. My male lead character is a man of colour, rich and well educated, very successful, but still shunned by his peers just because of his skin colour.

In this sense I suppose it doesn’t matter when a book is set, whether in the here and now, the past, the real world or a fantasy one. All fiction is about the human condition, human nature. It is a mirror in which we can see ourselves – warts and all.

Discover the Talbots

Click on image for (affiliate) purchase link

While the titles form a series, they can all be read as a stand alone.

The House in the Hollow: A Regency Family Saga (The Talbot Saga) Kindle Edition

The House in the Hollow

The Talbots are wealthy. But their wealth is from ‘trade’. With neither ancient lineage nor title, they struggle for entrance into elite Regency society. Finally, aided by an impecunious viscount, they gain access to the drawing rooms of England’s most illustrious houses.
Mrs Talbot intends her daughter Jocelyn to marry well, to eliminate the stain of the family’s ignoble beginnings. But the young men Jocelyn meets are vacuous, seeing Jocelyn as merely a substantial dowry. Only Lieutenant Barnaby Willow sees the real Jocelyn, but he is deployed to war.
The hypocrisy of fashionable society repulses Jocelyn—beneath the courtly manners she finds deceit, dissipation and vice. She stumbles upon and then is embroiled in a sordid scandal which threatens utter disgrace for the Talbot family. Humiliated and dishonoured, she is sent to a remote house hidden in a hollow of the Yorkshire moors, irrevocably separated from family, friends and any hope of hearing about the lieutenant’s fate.


The Lady in the Veil: The Talbot Saga Kindle Edition

The Lady in the Veil

What secrets hide beneath the veil? When her mother departs for a tour of the continent, Georgina is sent from the rural backwaters to stay with her cousin, George Talbot, in London. The 1835 season is at its height, but Georgina is determined to attend neither balls nor plays, and to eschew Society. She hides her face beneath an impenetrable veil. Her extraordinary appearance only sets off gossip and speculation as to her identity. Who is the mysterious lady beneath the veil?


Tall Chimneys: A British Family Saga Spanning 100 Years (The Talbot Saga) Kindle Edition

Tall Chimneys

Considered a troublesome burden, Evelyn Talbot is banished by her family to their remote country house. Tall Chimneys is hidden in a damp and gloomy hollow. It is outmoded and inconvenient but Evelyn is determined to save it from the fate of so many stately homes at the time – abandonment or demolition.
Occasional echoes of tumult in the wider world reach their sequestered backwater – the strident cries of political extremists, a furore of royal scandal, rumblings of the European war machine. But their isolated spot seems largely untouched. At times life is hard – little more than survival. At times it feels enchanted, almost outside of time itself. The woman and the house shore each other up – until love comes calling, threatening to pull them asunder.
Her desertion will spell its demise, but saving Tall Chimneys could mean sacrificing her hope for happiness, even sacrificing herself.
A century later, a distant relative crosses the globe to find the house of his ancestors. What he finds in the strange depression of the moor could change the course of his life forever.
One woman, one house, one hundred years.

About the Author

Allie Cresswell is the recipient of two coveted One Stop Fiction Five Star Awards and three Readers’ Favorite Awards.

Allie was born in Stockport, UK and began writing fiction as soon as she could hold a pencil.
Allie recalls: ‘I was about 8 years old. Our teacher asked us to write about a family occasion and I launched into a detailed, harrowing and entirely fictional account of my grandfather’s funeral. I think he died very soon after I was born; certainly I have no memory of him and definitely did not attend his funeral, but I got right into the details, making them up as I went along (I decided he had been a Vicar, which I spelled ‘Vice’). My teacher obviously considered this outpouring very good bereavement therapy so she allowed me to continue with the story on several subsequent days, and I got out of maths and PE on a few occasions before I was rumbled.’

She went on to do a BA in English Literature at Birmingham University and an MA at Queen Mary College, London.

She has been a print-buyer, a pub landlady, a book-keeper, run a B & B and a group of boutique holiday cottages. Nowadays Allie writes full time having retired from teaching literature to lifelong learners.

She has two grown-up children, two granddaughters and two grandsons, is married to Tim and lives in Cumbria.

You can contact Allie via :-


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