As it is Father’s Day tomorrow, I thought I would do a blog post about the fathers in my historical fiction novel, ‘Three: A Tale of Brave Women and the Eyam Plague’.
*SPOILER ALERT* Maybe come back later if you haven’t read the book yet…
One of the central fathers we encounter, and say goodbye to, early on in the novel is John Syddall, father of our beloved Emmott. Even though he only lasts a chapter or two, the impact he has on Emmott lasts much longer. You can see how much she feels she is like him and how she attempts to preserve his memory through her actions as she responds to his loss.
Another father we encounter, and soon lose, is John Hancock, the smithy. Seemingly safe up at Riley, he becomes a victim of the plague and is buried by his wife Elizabeth, one of our protagonists. Imagining this father to such a brood of children and contemplating Elizabeth’s tragedy faced alone and without him, was a very sad experience for me as a writer.
William Mompesson’s attention during the plague year is given almost primarily to getting the village through the perils of the plague, but we do observe two tender moments with regards to him as a father; the first when he says goodbye to his children as they are sent off to safety in Yorkshire and the second when he writes to them to tell them of the fate of their dear mother.
George Darby is one of the incumbents of the Lydgate Graves, eternally laid to rest beside his daughter, Mary. Emmott encounters George with Mary when she takes a walk to settle herself following the revelation of her mother’s intentions to wed John Daniel. She suddenly has the absurd idea to have George attend her own wedding in the absence of her own late father. By the time Elizabeth encounters Mary Darby on her doorstep to sell her some eggs, George is already in the ground, with Mary soon destined to join him.
Marshall Howe, the village sexton during the plague year, seems an unlikely father. For centuries following the plague, parents of Eyam would chastise wayward children with the threat of fetching Marshall Howe. He is a very gruff character, upsetting the villagers with his rough treatment of their deceased loved ones and extorting money, goods and heirlooms to pay his grave-digging fees. Yet we learn that Marshall has a wife and a young son and there is something of tenderness hidden much deeper within the gravedigger that Emmott recognises.
Matthew Morten is the father at Shepherd’s Flatt who loses his pregnant wife, their newborn son and their daughter to the plague. Following the end of the epidemic, whilst walking with his greyhound, Flash, the dog ran up to a woman, seemingly mistaking her for his old mistress. Sarah, the woman they encountered, had lost her husband and child to plague, and the two struck up a conversation that soon led to romance and a new family of their own. Interestingly, my sister-in-law’s family is descendent of these two survivors of the Eyam plague.
You can purchase the book in hardback, paperback and Kindle formats via Amazon: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Three-Tale-Brave-Women-Plague/dp/B09499WYHF/ref=sr_1_1?crid=11ZGSJ8BT9JQF&dchild=1&keywords=jennifer+jenkins+three&qid=1624187316&sprefix=Jennifer+jenkins+three%2Cdigital-text%2C135&sr=8-1