The MALTESE ANGEL by Catherine Cookson

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Catherine Cookson was at her towering best in this immensely powerful novel which spanned more than three decades, from the 1880s through World War I and beyond, as it told the story of a young man’s fateful decision and the enduring influence it had on future generations.

Ward Gibson’s heart and mind were in turmoil as he rode home from Newcastle, across the Tyne, to the prosperous Durham farm he had just inherited from his father. He was already his own assured man, though still only in his twenties. But what about marriage? He knew what was expected of him by the village folk, and especially by the Mason family, whose daughter Daisy he had known all his life. But now in a single week, his world had been turned upside down by a dancer, an ethereal being who seemed to float across the stage of the Empire Music Hall, where she was appearing under the professional name of The Maltese Angel. Night after night he had been to see her, and each time only served to confirm his conviction that this was no passing infatuation but the birth of a devotion that would endure as long as life itself.

Ward’s persistence allowed him to meet Stephanie McQueen, or Fanny, as she was known. The attraction was mutual, and after a courtship of only a few weeks they married. But already a scorpion had emerged. To the local community, Ward had betrayed their expectations and cruelly deserted poor Daisy. There followed a series of reprisals on his family, one of them tragic enough for Ward to enact a terrible revenge on the perpetrators. The legacy of these events was a bitter one, at times erupting into terrible violence, that would twist and turn the course of many lives through Ward’s own and succeeding generations.

The narrative is rich in characterisation and brilliantly reflects a turbulent historical era’s effects on the aspirations, fears and follies of individuals.

About Catherine Cookson

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Catherine Cookson, 1906 - 1998 British writer Catherine Cookson was born in Tyne Dock, Co. Durham. She was born illegitimate and into poverty with a mother who was, at times, an alcoholic and violent. From the age of thirteen, Catherine suffered from hereditary hemorrhage telangiectasia. She also believed, for many years, that she was abandoned as a baby and that her mother was actually her older sister. Catherine wrote her first short story, "The Wild Irish Girl," at the age of eleven and sent it to the South Shields Gazette, which sent it back in three days. She left school at the age of thirteen to work as a maid for the rich and powerful. It was then that she saw the great class barrier inside their society. From working in a laundry, she saved enough money to open an apartment hotel in Hastings. Schoolmaster, Tom Cookson, was one of her tenants and became her husband in 1940. She suffered several miscarriages and became depressed so she began writing to help her recovery. Catherine has written over ninety novels and, under the pseudonym of Catherine Marchant, she wrote three different series of books, which included the Bill Bailey, the Mary Ann, and the Mallen series. Her first book, "Kate Hannigan" (1950), tells the partly autobiographical story of a working-class girl becoming pregnant by an upper-middle class man. The baby is raised by Kate's parents and the child believes them to be her real parents and that Kate is her sister. Many of her novels are set in 19th century England and tell of poverty in such settings as mines, shipyards and farms. Her characters usually cross the class barrier by means of education. Catherine received the Freedom of the Borough of South Shields and the Royal Society of Literature's award for the Best Regional Novel of the year. The Variety Club of Great Britain named her Writer of the Year and she was voted Personality of the North-East. She received an honorary degree from the University of Newcastle and was made Dame in 1933. Just shortly before her ninety-second birthday, on June 11, 1998, Catherine died in her home near Newcastle-upon-Tyne. "Kate Hannigan's Girl" (1999), was published posthumously and continues the story of her first novel.
Published March 24, 2011 by Peach Publishing. 480 pages
Genres: History, Literature & Fiction, Romance. Fiction

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The fans of Cookson's (My Beloved Son, 1993, etc.) subtle-as- a-calliope village melodramas, set in various periods near the banks of the Tyne, will be pleased to note that the empress of scullery tales is still at it.

May 20 2010 | Read Full Review of The MALTESE ANGEL: A NOVEL

Publishers Weekly

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Attempting to compress a sizable chunk of history (1886-1921) into this saga, Cookson (The Rag Nymph) ends up with a lackluster panorama of an inbred English village lumbering slowly and painfully into the 20th century.

| Read Full Review of The MALTESE ANGEL: A NOVEL

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