The families featured in The White Cuckoo are very ordinary. They are all hard-working, typical families of our indigenous population in village communities the heart of Northamptonshire. Of course, I am very much aware that I am not being very politically correct in only portraying good, decent families in my book – but hang on a minute – it is MY book and I can write what I like, and include characters and families I think my readers can relate to and would like to be associated with in real life. The White Cuckoo is a good, clean book. You will not find (bad) swear words within its pages: if you are looking for my characters to be ‘doms’ or ‘subs’ and squeeze their less-than-perfect bodies into skin-tight black leather, clad with studded dog collars draped with menacing chains, and then go on to have rough sex eight times in 24 hours, then you might as well write your review of The White Cuckoo now.
Here is a brief synopsis of the main families featured in The White Cuckoo.
Alan and Pippa Hargreaves had a very happy marriage until Pippa died of cancer, leaving Alan a widow at the age of 48. Despite the more-than-average age gap between them, they had created a secure and loving home for their precious only daughter, Tammy, the heroine. They worked hard, even though money was tight and Pippa, despite having lived in luxury with her first husband, Tony Troutman, had knuckled down and worked full-time all her life to supplement the family income and give their daughter the best life chances she could possibly have.
Tony Troutman is a man kicked mercilessly down the slippery slope of social decline, and throughout the book the reader learns of his misfortunes, which have left him alone with his only daughter, Marian, and a virtual recluse. He depends on her, and has lost all his social skills through tragic circumstances that have left him shuffling around the bare table of life, picking up scraps wherever he can. Marian, despite her outward success and cheerfulness, harbours a deep resentment about her lot in life. She works long hours as a primary school teacher and is a pillar of the local community, a parish councillor and regular church-goer.
The most interesting family, I think, featuring in the novel. They are a family that has fragmented, having been blasted apart by a single moment of madness which resulted in ongoing bizarre behaviour by all of its members. Over a period of just one year, they have all made some terrible mistakes, said things to each other they bitterly regret and there are deep chasms that, if not bridged, will keep them forever leading their lives in parallel to each other into infinity.
The White Cuckoo is set in two time periods: 1910 and the present day. The Staverleys are one of the 1910 families and comprise of The Reverend Edward Staverley, his wife Hannah and their eight children. My inspiration for the Staverley family was the old film ‘Cheaper by the Dozen’, although I wanted its patriarch to be softer, more loving than controlling and a typical family man as well as a vicar.
The other 1910 family featured in the novel are the Thompsons. Now – I can’t really tell you in advance about the Thompsons, as I would be giving away the entire plot of the novel. All I can say is that as the story unfolds the reader will come to know and love them.
None of the families in The White Cuckoo are perfect: they have secrets, heartbreaking pasts, jealousies, arguments and sibling rivalries. They squabble with each other and make up. They say and do things they later regret, and their tables of life can either be laden with banquets, or covered with plates of stale, mouldy bread. There is one common theme, though, running through all the families in my book.
They all love each other, really!
I hope you are going to enjoy reading about them.