IT'S SAGA SATURDAY!! Welcome saga author, Lynne Francis....


Gardens as inspiration

 I’m lucky to have several properties with beautiful gardens within a short drive of where I live in East Kent. Two of them in particular have provided the inspiration for the gardens of Woodchurch Manor, which play such a key part in The Secret Child, the second and latest book in The Margate Maid trilogy.

 The location and estate of Woodchurch Manor is based on Quex House, in Birchington, but the garden is an amalgamation of the one there and Goodnestone House gardens, not too far distant. Jane Austen used to visit the latter when she stayed with her brother in nearby Rowling – they would walk across the fields to spend time with the Bridges family at Goodnestone House. The gardens are beautiful and surrounded by tranquil countryside that feels as though it could well be unchanged since the early 19th century.

 There are walled gardens at both places – popular in grand houses in the past as the walls sheltered the borders and harboured the warmth of any sun, making them perfect for growing fruit and vegetables, as well as cut flowers for the house.


The walled garden at Mount Ephraim, visited after a trip to Faversham (another important location in The Secret Child) has provided me with one of the photos I have been using as a backdrop in publicity, because of its lovely old wall and profusion of colourful flowers.

All the gardens mentioned happen to have rather lovely teashops, too! They are well worth a visit once everything has opened up once more. 

More about The Secret Child


Kent, 1814

Molly Dawson, now a respectable married woman, lives with her husband, head gardener Charlie, on the Woodchurch Manor estate, where they have brought up three delightful daughters. Her life appears idyllic . . . but she has suffered the torment of a secret since she was eighteen years old.

When George Smith - a young stranger fresh out of the Navy - appears at the estate's annual garden party, Molly's life is set to change again . . .

Could he be a suitable match for one of her daughters? Or is this charming young man a threat to her hard-won happiness?

Can Molly ever overcome the consequences of a decision she made long ago to find true joy and fulfilment at last?


Published by Pitakus in hardback and ebook on March 25th, audiobook and paperback to follow.

Lynne Francis grew up in Yorkshire but studied, lived and worked in London for many years. She draws inspiration for her novels from a fascination with family history, landscapes and the countryside.

Her first saga series was set in west Yorkshire but a move to east Kent, and the discovery of previously unknown family links to the area, gave her the idea for a Georgian-era trilogy. Lynne’s exploration of her new surroundings provided the historical background for the novels, as well as allowing her to indulge another key interest: checking out the local teashops and judging the cake.

When she’s not at her desk, writing, Lynne can be found in the garden, walking through the countryside or beside the sea.







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