Saga Saturday - Welcome fellow Aria Fiction author, Jennifer Wells..

Secrets, lies, struggles … and some new beginnings
Jennifer Wells

If I asked you what comes to mind when you hear the word ‘saga’, your answer might include things such as ‘women’, ‘friendship’, ‘history’ and ‘struggle’, but I am pretty sure that one of the first words you think of would be ‘family’.

I am the author of three novels – THE LIAR, THE MURDERESS and THE SECRET – all of which have a strong focus on families but, alas, not happy ones. The families in my stories endure separation and estrangement. They feature fathers who are absent or unknown, mothers who are deranged or criminal, and children who are orphaned or impoverished, but it is not all doom and gloom because every so often there is a birth – a new beginning.

Each of my novels is narrated by a mother and daughter, and some of my characters go on to feature in more than one story. Yet there is only one person who appears in all three of my novels, someone who is central to new beginnings – a midwife.

The midwife, Sadie, is a rotund little woman with swollen ankles and a rather blunt character. She barks order at people, complains about untidy kitchens, and smells of carbolic soap, but because births are so central to my plots, and to life itself, so is she.

In my stories Sadie keeps secrets from a mother who was told her baby had died soon after birth. Her comments cause a daughter to question the identity of her mother, and she helps a desperate woman to raise a child born into a bad situation. She is never a main protagonist, yet she always plays a vital role.

For my characters, Sadie is there as they begin life and she plays an important part in their development and discoveries. For me as an author, she is the one that binds the plots together and provides a link from one novel to the next, and of course, she helps the stories themselves to be born.

Maybe this is why so many saga authors embrace characters who are midwives. Stories, like babies, start off as the tiniest of ideas, are a long time in gestation, and it is not until their development is complete that they are truly born.
…and perhaps there should be another word that we associate with sagas – ‘life’.


London 1920 – A troubled dancer is invited to the remote Elmridge House, home of the wealthy theatre benefactor Dr Cuthbertson, to escape her turbulent past. An isolated guest room and a surprise pregnancy leave her longing to return to the stage and her London life, but she soon discovers that Elmridge House is not all that it seems – the house holds secrets which make it difficult for her to leave.

Missensham 1942 – Young nurse, Ivy, is called out to a patient at Elmridge House, home of the aloof Mrs Cuthbertson and reclusive Dr Cuthbertson. Ivy is entranced by the opulence of the house and its glamorous past, but when she tells her mother about Mrs Cuthbertson, the old woman becomes fearful and forbids her from returning. What secrets does Elmridge House hold? And why does Ivy's mother live in fear of the mysterious Mrs Cuthbertson?


Jennifer is the author of THE LIAR, THE MURDERESS and THE SECRET published by Aria Fiction. Her novels involve the themes of family, betrayal and love and are set in the home counties in the early 20th century. Jennifer lives in Devon with her young family and cats. She is busily working on her next novel.

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