I would like to introduce you all to Jennifer Wineberg. Her debut novel, ‘Ruskin’s Copper Shadow’ was published as an eBook in February of this year.
Jennifer has written a fascinating post all about her book which I hope you enjoy reading as much as I did.
Thank you Sonya for giving me this wonderful opportunity to share my first book with the readers on your blog.
If you are seeking answers to the quandaries of contemporary living, or worse still if you yearn to be dragged through a narrative that leaves you exhausted and fraught, this is not the book for you. However, if you would prefer to tiptoe back to Victorian England, to discover betrayal and heartache lurking behind the silver and polishing, come with me.
Imagine the clock ticking in the Grand Dining Room of Wallington Hall a stately home in the wilds of Northumberland and the Mistress of the house is sitting in a chair staring at a painting. A pretty girl sits demurely in the corner of the canvas and the sunlight dapples across her beautiful porcelain skin as her keen amber eyes stare out at her. Pauline Trevelyan the Mistress of the Hall wishes she had never met her. As the daughter of a shepherd on her estate she had chosen her to be a model for the artist, but it was when Pauline appointed her as a servant that the trouble began.
When this girl fell pregnant in 1865 Pauline was desperate to protect her close friend John Ruskin from scandal. After all, he had just lost his father and a decade earlier had undergone the humiliation of being divorced by his wife for non-consummation of his marriage. But he wasn’t alone. Pauline knew all about non-consummation. Her own arid marriage was brought into sharp relief by the lives of her Pre-Raphaelite artist friends and her Northumbrian poet Swinburne. She was not about to let this relationship be undermined by the sudden arrival of my Great Grandmother especially as she suspected that Ruskin had developed a deep affection towards her mother Isabella.
Pauline Trevelyan knew she was a little bit in love with Ruskin and because of his reliance on her as an advisor throughout his divorce and his father’s death, she persuaded Ruskin to leave Isabella, leaving the path clear for Pauline to manipulate the birth records and destroy evidence of the relationship.
Pauline wasn’t the only person to be fascinated by the picture in her Grand Dining Hall. Almost 150 years later I found myself gazing at it too. I was struck by the similarity between the same girl that Pauline was fixated upon, and my late Aunt Mabel. Convinced that this young lady was part of my family tree I spent time in Northumberland Museums, as well as accessing computer based genealogy platforms.
Seven years later, I had amassed enough information to allow me to make a close observation of the historical characters. This in turn, gave me the opportunity to provide a credible interpretation of events enhanced by the narrative characters I had created.
My main protagonists are Isabella Milburn – the girl in the picture – and John Ruskin the great writer and social reformer. The tale is told through the eyes of a Northumbrian Canon who acts as a metaphor for Ruskin, with the same impetuous desire to right social wrongs. He finds his own love in Rosalind who is just as feisty and headstrong as Isabella and who bears him a child in similar circumstances to Ruskin. It is likely that Ruskin took the memories of my Great Great Grandmother with him to the grave, and as we celebrate the Bicentenary of Ruskin’s birth I would like to raise a glass with you, to the man and his lover, Isabella Milburn.
About the Author
Jennifer was born in Newcastle on Tyne and her ancestors are rooted in Northumberland. She is a committed author who is currently writing her third book. ‘Ruskin’s Copper Shadow,’ is her debut publication.
It was a long journey to the printed page through a career in teaching to managing an upmarket B&B, where the guests provided the inspiration for many of the characters.
Jennifer manages to combine writing with sailing around the Solent with her family in her old boat. Her husband Stuart dances with apostrophes and full stops in an attempt to turn her books into readable formats. She keeps fit by helping her daughter with her dog walking business and is secretary of the Village Hall Committee in Mottisfont, a little village north of Romsey. She has a love hate relationship with the compiler of the Financial Times Crossword and supports Newcastle United Football Club.
‘Ruskin’s Copper Shadow’ can be purchased from:-
Twitter – https://twitter.com/JenniferWinebe1