When I begin a new novel, I often start with the location. I’m very inspired by places whether it’s a beautiful Georgian manor house like Purley Hall in my Austen Addicts series or the gently rolling hills of the Cotswolds in The Secret of You. I never go anywhere without my camera and notebook as it’s always important to me to capture the detail of a place.
I’d known for a while that I was going to write about roses. I’m passionate about this beautiful flower and my poor husband has dug over forty holes in our cottage garden so that I can plant just a few of my favourite species. So, it wasn’t surprising when inspiration struck and the idea for a story about three sisters struggling to save their family’s rose business began to form.
I knew instantly where The Rose Girls would be set and where the Hamilton sisters would live. Their family home is a medieval moated manor house surrounded by a garden full of roses, set deep in the heart of Suffolk’s Stour Valley. It’s about as romantic a setting as you can get, but not all is well at Little Eleigh Manor. From the troublesome north wing full of damp and where the ceiling crashes down onto the floor in the middle of the night, to the mounting debt that’s resulted since the death of the sisters’ mother, there’s a lot to cope with.
There are plenty of romantic complications too and one of the sisters throws a volume of love poems into the moat after having her heart broken. Well, there’s got to be some benefits to living in a moated manor, hasn’t there?
The house is a place full of secrets, of fears and insecurities, but it’s also one of hopes and dreams and it’s somewhere that Celeste, Gertie and Evie learn about the healing power of family.
I moved to Suffolk three years ago and I’m totally in love with the landscape of the Stour Valley with its lush green hills, its wooded valleys full of bluebells and the beautiful river which wends its way through it all. It’s a landscape which inspired Gainsborough and Constable and it’s very English, and I do hope that I’ve done it justice in The Rose Girls.
Victoria Connelly lives in rural Suffolk with her artist husband and family of rescued animals. Her first novel, ‘Flights of Angels’, was published in Germany and made into a film. Victoria and her husband flew out to Berlin to see it being filmed and got to be extras in it. She is the author of many bestselling titles including ‘Wish You Were Here’, ‘A Summer to Remember’ and the Austen Addicts series. She is now working on a brand new series called ‘The Book Lovers’ which will launch in September 2015. Her latest release, ‘The Rose Girls’, will be available from the 1st of June 2015.