Maria’s Papers

Written by Stephen F. Clegg
Review by Jo Barton

The complicated history of the Chance family is revealed in this dual-time historical narrative which exposes the treacherous history of murder, intrigue, and passion in a family story which spans three hundred years.  When, in 1850, Maria Chance seeks to retrieve her family’s ownership of the Whitewall Estate, she exposes a web of deceit, danger and turmoil.  One hundred and fifty years later, when Naomi Draper, head of the local council’s historic research department, uncovers some long-forgotten documents about the tenure of Whitewall Farm, the confusion which surrounds its ownership is once again opened up to scrutiny. The inclusion into the story of a modern-day element allows the plot to take into account existing rivalries, which still threaten the very safety of those who seek to find out the truth about Whitewall Farm.

Maria’s Papers is a professionally presented historical saga which engages reader interest from the beginning. The overall standard of writing is competent: a little tentative at the beginning, but undoubtedly gaining in confidence as the story progresses. The dual-time aspect of the narrative is handled well, and there is good continuity of the story. The book is action-packed throughout, and the ever-present threat of danger is palpable, with plenty of mystery and more than a hint of menace. The addition of a sepia photograph of Maria Chance at the beginning of the book adds a nice personal touch and reminds us that this story is based on the author’s personal family history.

Overall, this is an interesting and absorbing historical family saga, and one that kept my attention from beginning to end. I have no hesitation in recommending this book as a fascinating glimpse into the chequered past of an intriguing family.