My book of the month for December is Margaret Kaine's 1950s romantic drama Song for a Butterfly, which in addition to being a great romantic read is a compelling snapshot of a time and place which have both vanished forever from the English landscape.
I feel novelists have a duty to record social history, and Margaret does this brilliantly in her series of novels set in the English Potteries.
Here's what Margaret has to say about her inspiration for her fiction:
"It was only when I allowed my imagination to roam free, when I began to use a broader canvas for my writing that I found what editors refer to as ‘my voice’. My novels are all set in the Midlands, with the emphasis on the industrial area of the Potteries with its history and distinctive character. The unique landscape with the blackened kilns and factories is now lost, but the character of its artisans lives on. And the people fascinate me and crowd into my mind, their vivid lives and personalities; paintresses whose life has been one long struggle, master potters, market traders and builders.
"But I love to take my reader out into the wider landscape too. The Midlands also has vast tracts of beautiful countryside and attractive towns. In one of my novels for instance, Roses for Rebecca, I described a romantic scene in Dovedale, taking my couple into the lovely tree-lined gorge with its famous river and stepping-stones.
"I believe in letting fresh air into the reader’s mind, letting them feel the warmth of sunshine with the lightening of mood that blue skies bring. Just as a grey foggy field or a deserted moor can add suspense and even fear to a scene, or a cosy teashop can bring happy memories, so can these shared experiences within a novel bring writer and reader together."