I mentioned a few weeks ago that I was catching up on my reading from books received for Christmas 2013, as the pile has grown with more received this Christmas. Now that I’ve started, I’m fairly motoring through them.
Sticking with my recent theme of genealogical fiction, is The Marriage Certificate by Stephen Molyneux which I originally heard of via the Amazon widget on the Lost Cousins newsletter. The first little snippet I wish to mention is that the author shares his surname with one of my own ancestral lines and I can see from the front of the book that he too is an amateur genealogist. Who knows, we may even share a common ancestor. I was already starting to speculate before reading whether he had chosen the surname Sefton from his own personal research as I have a small booklet on Sefton Church produced on behalf of the International Molyneux Family Association.
This is what it says on the back cover.
What prompts amateur family historian Peter Sefton to buy the marriage certificate he sees on display in an antiques arcade? Is it because he thinks it should be private and he wants to remove it from public view? Is it the prospect of researching the individuals named upon it? Or is it something else, happenstance perhaps, which leads him towards a potentially lucrative discovery and a long forgotten family secret?
When John and Louisa marry in January 1900, who could foretell how their lives and those of ambitious Rose, the bridesmaid, and confident Frank, the best man, would be changed that day?
Follow their story, through Peter’s research and find out how, with investigative skill and a certain amount of luck, Peter finds himself pulled along to uncover a series of sad and tragic events … events, which connect the marriage certificate to a modern day mystery. But … there’s a complication. In his quest to complete the family tree he learns that he has competition. It’s not just a matter of pride; there’s money at stake too. Should he the amateur give up, or can he really beat the professionals at their own game?
I was drawn into this story right from the word go. It begins in the present with character Peter Sefton buying a marriage certificate dated 1900 at an antiques centre . We then skip back and forth to various times in history setting the scene introducing the various characters. The author carefully weaves everything together. There is even an Heir Hunting company researching an unclaimed estate.
So Peter begins his research from the marriage in 1900 and the Heir Hunters begin their research from a death in 1996. As the story unfolds it becomes apparent to the reader that both are researching into the same family tree.
I could relate so much to this story. Before the boys were born, I used to love to browse around antiques centres including the ephemera sections. And Heir Hunters is one my favourite programmes, which I’m very glad to see back on the TV. I’ve been catching up on my ironing whilst watching it. My own family history research is on the backburner currently, as I have too many other demands on my time, but I do hope to get back to it sometime.
The Marriage Certificate is Stephen Molyneux’s first novel and the paperback edition is currently on sale on Amazon for £7.99. It is also available in kindle format. I highly recommend this book. It is a gripping read and I do very much hope that Stephen will write another story.
Do let me know if you come across other authors of genealogical fiction. I’m addicted to this genre now.