It’s time for another edition of Northern Reads! Today on my blog we’re in Bolton as another family saga author, Patricia M. Osborne joins us today.
Hi Kellie, thank you for inviting me over to talk about how living in Bolton as a child has influenced my novel House of Grace.
House of Grace is a riches to rags story and the first book in a family saga trilogy. Book One is split into two parts and runs from 1950 to Christmas Eve in 1969. A bulk of Part I is set in Bolton, Greater Manchester. I chose this setting because, although I was born in Liverpool, when I was seven years old we moved to Bolton, then known as Bolton, Lancashire, rather than Greater Manchester. In Bolton, I lived in a two-up and two-down terrace with my Mum, Dad, two sisters and baby brother. We had no bathroom but bathed in a tin bath by the fire. Poor Mum had to drag it out to the backyard to empty once we’d finished. This memory was great material for a scene in House of Grace.
When I was eleven, we moved to Surrey as my dad had acquired a new job which was to be a fresh start for us all. Our new house had not only an indoor bathroom and toilet but a huge back garden.
My time in Bolton made a great impression on me and it crops up in my writing a lot. House of Grace was no exception.
When my protagonist, Grace Granville, visits Bolton for the first time to stay with her best friend Katy, she visits places that I myself had enjoyed. For instance, Bolton Museum with lion statues outside the town hall. My late sister and I spent numerous hours in the library, museum and aquarium. At the ages of six and seven we would walk from Daubhill into Bolton town centre and spend our day bobbing from the library, museum, to downstairs in the aquarium. We were fascinated by it all so much. The museum was eerie with mummies and old porcelain dolls. Those dolls had a hypnotic effect on me and stayed with me for years. On fine days we loved to play outside the museum around the town hall lions, stroking their manes. My protagonist, Grace is fascinated by the museum and lion statues too.
In 1990, I returned to Bolton with my eldest two children so they could see where I’d lived, went to school and of course visit the museum. I was disappointed to find that so much had been demolished. My home had gone, and the small church school, Emmanuel, had gone too. Castle Hill in Tonge Moor was still standing but looked tiny, unlike my memory that it was a large school. My children loved the museum just like I had as a child, however I was disappointed because this huge space that I’d remembered seemed to have shrunk.
Samuel Crompton’s house was another old haunt of ours. A gang of us, including my two sisters, used to hike up to Hall i’ th’ Wood. The older kids would frighten we younger ones when stepping into Samuel Crompton’s house. They said if we rocked the cradle then the floor would open, we’d be swallowed up and the ghost would get us. At seven that was quite scary.
The Palais was the place where the young people liked to go dancing. Unfortunately, I wasn’t old enough as I was only eleven when we left Bolton but my elder sister used to go on a regular basis. This had an impression on me too as I made sure Katy took Grace to the Astoria Palais de Danse, and this is where she meets the love of her life, coal miner Jack Gilmore.
Sketch by Helen A James, 2017
Because I never got to go to the palais, a Facebook memory group came to my aid and told me what the interior was like in 1950, and even how much it would have cost for a cup of coffee. Members of the Bolton Palais Facebook Group who read House of Grace said I had described the Palais just like they remembered it. What I didn’t know just after publishing my novel was the fight the people of Bolton had on their hands to save their beloved dance hall. Alas they lost their battle and this wonderful iconic building was demolished. However, The Palais de Danse lives on in House of Grace.
‘…large round building on the corner of Higher Bridge Street.
I looked up at the sign. ‘Astoria Palais De-Danse.’
‘Yes,’ Katy answered, ‘only we Boltonians call it the Palais. Come on, let’s go in.’
Book two, ‘The Coal Miner’s Son’, will make its appearance in March 2020. Part I of this book runs alongside House of Grace but told in the point of view of Grace’s nine-year-old son, George. It opens in 1962 and ends in 1971, so the second part works as a sequel. Following this is ‘The Granville Legacy’, the final book in the trilogy. It begins in 1981 and as it is a work in progress, I’m not sure where it will finish yet. I then have the potential to produce more novels or novellas in the series with different characters’ stories. I am sure that Bolton will pop up in those too.
About House of Grace:
All sixteen-year-old Grace Granville has ever wanted is to become a successful dress designer. She dreams of owning her own fashion house and spends her spare time sketching outfits. Her father, Lord Granville, sees this as a frivolous activity and arranges suitors for a marriage of his choosing.
Grace is about to leave Greenemere, a boarding school, in Brighton. Blissfully unaware of her father’s plans, she embarks on a new adventure. The quest includes a trip to Bolton’s Palais where she meets coal miner, Jack Gilmore. Grace’s life is never the same again.
Is Grace strong enough to defy Lord Granville’s wishes and find true love? Will she become a successful fashion designer? Where will she turn for help?
House of Grace is the first book in the historical fiction family saga trilogy.
If you like Mr Selfridge and House of Eliott then you’ll love this riches to rags 1950s/60s saga. Delve into House of Grace and follow Grace Granville as she struggles with family conflict, poverty and tragedy.
For signed paperback copies direct: https://patriciamosbornewriter.com/contact/
Patricia M Osborne is married with grown-up children and grandchildren. She was born in Liverpool and now lives in West Sussex. In February 2019, Patricia graduated with an MA in Creative Writing (Merit) via the University of Brighton. She is a novelist, poet, and short story writer. When she isn’t working on her own writing, she enjoys sharing her knowledge, acting as a mentor to fellow writers and tutoring poetry online for the Writers’ Bureau.
Her poetry pamphlet, ‘Taxus Baccata’ was a winner with Hedgehog Poetry Press and will appear during 2020. Patricia has had many poems and short stories published in various literary magazines and anthologies Her debut novel, House of Grace, A Family Saga, set in the 1950s/60s, was released in March 2017.
In 2017 Patricia was Poet in Residence at a local Victorian Park in Crawley and her poetry was exhibited throughout the park. In 2019 her poetry was on display at Crawley Museum.
Patricia has a successful blog at Patriciamosbornewriter.com where she features other writers and poets.
Her hobbies include walking around her local park and lake, swimming, reading, photography, and playing the piano when time permits. All these activities offer inspiration to create new writing.
Find Patricia on Social Media:
Thanks so much for stopping by, Patricia, and telling us about all of your memories of growing up in Bolton. Best of luck with your new release!
Come back next week as we have a new lineup of authors in February for Northern Reads.