Friday, December 15, 2023

Have a sneak peek between the covers of Marcia Clayton's heartwarming novel — Millie's Escape #HistoricalFiction #BlogTour @MarciaC89111861 @cathiedunn

Millie’s Escape

The Hartford Manor Series

by Marcia Clayton

Publication Date: November 2nd, 2023
Publisher: Sunhillow Publishing
Pages: 348
Genre: Historical Fiction (Victorian) / Family Sagas / Women's Literary Fiction

1885 North Devon, England

It is winter in the small Devon village of Brampford Speke, and a typhoid epidemic has claimed many victims. Millie, aged fifteen, is doing her best to nurse her mother and grandmother as well as look after Jonathan, her five-year-old brother. One morning, Millie is horrified to find that her mother, Rosemary, has passed away during the night and is terrified the same fate may befall her granny, Emily.


When Emily’s neighbours inform her that Sir Edgar Grantley has also perished from the deadly disease, the old woman is distraught, for the kindly gentleman has been their benefactor for many years, much to the disgust of his wife, Lilliana. Emily is well aware that Sir Edgar’s generosity has long been a bone of contention between him and his spouse, and she is certain Lady Grantley will evict them from their cottage at the first opportunity.


As she racks her brain for a solution, Emily remembers her father came from Hartford, a seaside village in North Devon and had relatives there. Desperate and too weak to travel, she insists Millie and Jonathan leave home and make their way to Hartford before the embittered woman can cause trouble for them. There, she tells them, they must throw themselves on the mercy of their family and hope they will offer them a home.


With Emily promising to follow as soon as possible, the two youngsters reluctantly set off on their fifty-mile journey on foot and in the harshest of weather conditions. Emily warns them to be cautious, for she suspects Lady Grantley may well pursue them to seek revenge for a situation that has existed between the two families for many years.

They left the gloomy building with Sam carrying Paul snugly wrapped in a warm blanket and Robert carrying Martin. Neither child weighed much, for they were so thin. The two girls pulled their blankets around them as Dodger climbed down and lifted them into the relative warmth of the carriage.  Between them, Robert and Dodger lifted Marrok into the carriage, making him as comfortable as possible on one seat with his broken leg stretched out before him. Sam held Paul on his knee, and the other three children squashed into the seat beside him.

There was a slightly awkward silence in the carriage as Sam and Marrok tried hard to think of something to say. Then Sam remembered something that Annie had thrust into his hands at the last minute, and he reached under the seat and retrieved a tin.

“I was wondering if any of you might be hungry?”

The children stared at him with renewed interest, and the old man beamed at them.

“Ah, I thought that might get your attention, and I’m pleased to tell you that I have six pasties in here, all baked by Maisie, the cook at Hartford Manor. They might still be warm if we’re lucky, for they were fresh out of the oven. Would anybody like one?”

Sam lifted the lid, and immediately, a mouth-watering aroma assailed the nostrils of the starving inmates of the carriage. The ice was broken as the children took a pasty each and ate them hungrily. 

“I think they’re enjoying them; what about you, son? Have you got room for a pasty?”

Marrok grinned widely at his father, reached for a pasty, and eagerly took a massive bite.

“You have no idea how delicious this tastes … Dad …” He hesitated as he spoke.

“Ah, but I have, lad. I’ve spent more years of my life being hungry than not, but hopefully, those days are behind us now.”

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Marcia Clayton

Marcia Clayton is the author of five books in The Hartford Manor Series, a heart-warming family saga stretching from the Regency period to Victorian times. A sixth book is to be released in 2024.

Marcia was born in North Devon, a rural and picturesque area in the far South West of England. When she left school, Marcia worked in a bank for several years until she married her husband, Bryan, and then stayed at home for a few years to care for her three sons, Stuart, Paul and David. As the children grew older, Marcia worked as a Marie Curie nurse caring for the terminally ill and later for the local authority managing school transport.

Now a grandmother, Marcia enjoys spending time with her family and friends. She’s a keen researcher of family history, and this hobby inspired some of the characters in her books. A keen gardener, Marcia grows many of her own vegetables. She is also an avid reader and enjoys historical fiction, romance, and crime books.

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