IT'S SAGA SATURDAY!! Please welcome saga author, Francesca Capaldi...

Thank you, Rachel, for inviting me to Saga Saturday to talk about my debut saga.

How it all began for Heartbreak in the Valley

Many years ago, when I was a teen, we visited my mother's place of birth in the Rhymney Valley. It was a three up, three down in what had been a mining village in the first two thirds of the twentieth century. My great gran, Mary Jones, had lived in that house for the best part of thirty years, giving birth to all seven of her children there, and finally welcoming a granddaughter – my mum.

As a child I was always interested in making up stories and had a head full of characters who had various adventures. I never dreamt at the time that this village would one day be the basis of the setting for a novel.

Wind forward to around five years ago. As someone immensely interested in family history, I joined the online Ancestry site. One day a 'hint' popped up for a Great War military record. It appeared that my great grandfather, Hugh Morgan, (not Mary's husband, but on my mum's other side), had enlisted in March 1915. By November he'd been given a medical discharge, a month before his brigade was sent off to France. A lucky escape?

On the military record is stamped the damning sentence: Not likely to become an efficient soldier. Wow. Imagine marching off proudly with your pals, only to be told several months later that you weren't up to the job.

And that was the spark for the story of Anwen and Idris, his return to the Valleys, his subsequent feelings of failure and the heartache it caused her. I've no idea what my great grandfather really thought about it, nor my great grandmother who was already married to him, but I only hope they didn't have as hard a time as Anwen and Idris!

Heartbreak in the Valleys

The world was crumbling, but her love stayed strong

November 1915. For young housemaid, Anwen Rhys, life is hard in the Welsh mining village of Dorcalon, deep in the Rhymney Valley. She cares for her ill mother and beloved younger sister Sara, all while shielding them from her father’s drunken, violent temper. Anwen comforts herself with her love for childhood sweetheart, Idris Hughes, away fighting in the Great War.

Yet when Idris returns, he is a changed man; no longer the innocent boy she loved, he is harder, more distant, quickly breaking off their engagement. And when tragedy once again strikes her family, Anwen’s heart is completely broken.
But when an explosion at the pit brings unimaginable heartache to Dorcalon, Anwen and Idris put their feelings aside to unite their mining community.

In the midst of despair, can Anwen find hope again? And will she ever find the happiness she deserves?

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About Francesca
Several years ago, Francesca Capaldi pursued a childhood dream and joined a creative writing class. Lots of published short stories, a serial, and three pocket novels later, she’s now explored her mother’s ancestral history for a novel set in a Welsh colliery village. A history graduate and former teacher, she hails from the Sussex coast but now lives in Kent with her family and a cat called Lando Calrissian.

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  1. Thank you for featuring me on your blog, Rachel.
    Francesca Capaldi

  2. I look forward to reading this book. Just this weekend I joined a ancestry site yet again and I finally had a breakthrough on my Mum's side. Most of the family are named Jones or Bowen and come from Aberdare and Neath so you can imagine how hard it is. Looking forward to the 1921 census now.