Author Archives: sandradan1

About sandradan1

Novelist. I blog about writing, reading and everything to do with books and writing them at http://www.sandradanby.com/. Come and visit me!

#Bookreview ‘The Shadow Sister’ by Lucinda Riley @lucindariley #romance

Star d’Aplièse, the third of the six adopted sisters in Lucinda Riley’s dual-timeline adoption mystery series is the subject of The Shadow Sister. Riley excels at combining a contemporary mystery with a related historical story and so far in the series Star has been something of an enigma. Almost twinned to CeCe, her nearest sister in age, she is the quiet unassuming one in this flamboyant family. In The Shadow Sister,she steps out of the shadows and discovers a past involving Beatrix Potter, Mrs Keppel and the King of England.

adoption reunion

When their adopted father Pa Salt dies, he leaves each girl a letter and clue about their birth. Star’s journey takes her first to Kensington, London, to an eccentric rare bookseller where Star, grieving and feeling adrift in life, takes a job as bookshop assistant. She soon proves herself irreplaceable to shop owner Orlando who invites her to his family home in Kent. There she meets his surly brother Mouse – who Star thinks of as ‘The Sewer Rat’ – and delightful nephew Rory. As Star becomes caught up in the turmoil of the Vaughan family, distance grows between herself and CeCe. Slowly Star recognises that in order to work out who she is, she must be separate from her sister.

This novel is not just the contemporary story of Star ‘finding herself’ it is also the story of her ancestry. The historical strand takes us back to 1909 to Flora MaNichol who lives at Esthwaite Hall in the Lake District, and is a neighbour to Beatrix Potter. Flora’s family life is enigmatic, although she is the older sister it is the younger Aurelia who is given a London season and engagement to Archie, destined to be Lord Vaughan, encouraged. Flora would rather run wild on the fells, drawing animals and plants, avoiding her censorious father. Her life takes a turn when she too must live in London, at the house of Mrs Keppel, notorious mistress to the King. Star’s clue hints at a wealthy inheritance, a small onyx animal figurine named ‘Panther’. How can this be connected to Flora; why is she feted as a guest by Mrs Keppel, and what are the connections to Star a century later?

One issue I have with the series is that rather than actually being about the sisters’ mysterious parentage and how Pa Salt came to adopt them, they tell a historical story set two or three generations earlier. So far I have enjoyed all three of the historical stories; I am reading the series in order. The historical strands are linked to each relevant sister, but I am left feeling slightly short-changed about the truth of their birth. I want to know more about the birth parents and how Pa Salt came to adopt them. However in this book, more than the first two, his shadow is more evident so perhaps his story will be unveiled in the seventh book of the series.
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Next in the series is The Pearl Sister, the story of CeCe.
Read my reviews of the first two novels in the series:-
The Seven Sisters
The Storm Sister

If you like this genealogy mystery, try:-
Pale as the Dead’ by Fiona Mountain
‘Blood-Tied’ by Wendy Percival
The Blood Detective’ by Dan Waddell 

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
THE SHADOW SISTER by @lucindariley #adoption https://wp.me/paZ3MX-3K via #AdoptionStoriesBlog

Did your relative belong to a #tradeunion #adoptionreunion #searching

We all remember learning at school about the Tolpuddle Martyrs and their importance at the beginning of the trade union movement in the UK. They are still remembered today. Current online databases of union records include a wealth of information useful for anyone searching for a relative with a trade who may belong, or have belonged, to a union.

family history

[photo: alva2634.blogspot.com]

The history of working life can be exciting and the excitement of researching your family tree is not about filling in spaces on a sheet of paper, it is about discovering real people and understanding their lives. If one of your relatives belonged to a trade union you could find out more about their working life, and also the time in which they lived. Searching can be time-consuming, but rewarding.

Here are some UK-based links to get your started:-

The Modern Records Centre – held at the University of Warwick is the UK’s biggest repository of trade union records. Records vary from union to union, and year to year, but includes membership records, records of sickness and unemployment benefits, local branch meetings, social events and even some apprenticeship certificates.

Trade Union Ancestors – it is estimated that more than 5000 trade unions have existed at some time or another, this website includes an A-Z guide of unions, union histories and biographies of union figures.

Working Class Movement Library – as well as trade union histories and records grouped by occupation, this website has a fund of information about working lives such as Object of the Month and personality profiles. The international section includes India and Ireland.

family history

[photo: tuc.org.uk]

London Metropolitan University – this website tells the story of the TUC, the Trades Union Congress, with sections on the General Strike, Match Workers plus three sister websites – Workers’ War, Winning Equal Pay, and the oral history Britain at Work 1945-1995.

For more about the Tolpuddle Martyrs and that pivotal time in the history of the trade union movement, click here.

Trade union membership registers – you can search the three million trade union membership registers at Find My Past. Includes admission books, annual reports and membership lists.

Bishopsgate Institute Library – holds a variety of records, some digitised, including the General Federation of Trade Unions. Includes minutes, annual reports, proceedings, financial reports and copies of the Federation News journal.

This post is inspired by an article in the December 2016 issue of ‘Who Do You Think You Are?’ magazine.

For more articles about researching family records, try:-
The #paternity question
Further information #AdoptionReunion #HelpfulLinks
Where to start your #adoptionreunion search 

family history

Throughout the ‘Identity Detective’ series of novels of adoption mysteries, journalist Rose researches the history of her birth mother and subsequently attempts to trace lost relatives for clients.
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And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Did your relative belong to a #tradeunion #adoptionreunion #searching https://wp.me/paZ3MX-3D via #AdoptionStoriesBlog

#FamilyHistory #Mystery ‘Pale as the Dead’ by @FionaMountain

This is an unusual mix of genealogy mystery and history, centred on the glamorous Pre-Raphaelite artists and Lizzie Siddal, the girl in the famous ‘Ophelia’ painting. Ancestry detective Natasha Blake meets a mysterious, beautiful young woman, Bethany, who is re-enacting the Lizzie Siddal scene for a photographer. Bethany confides in Natasha her fear that her family is cursed following the deaths of her sister and mother. After asking Natasha to research her family tree, Bethany goes missing. Has she run from a failing love affair, committed suicide, or has she been murdered?

Fiona Mountain

The trail is cold. Natasha must turn detective in two senses: she searches the birth, marriage and death records, census returns and wills, to find Natasha’s ancestors; at the same time, she is being followed by someone driving a red Celica. Adam, the photographer, is also Bethany’s boyfriend but Natasha feels there is more to his story than he is telling.

The narrative wandered rather from the central story, complicated unnecessarily by Natasha’s own history and love life which added little. Perhaps this could have been avoided by telling part of the story from Lizzie Siddal’s point of view. There were so many peripheral characters, both in the present time and the historical story, that at times I lost my way. I was also unconvinced by the threat to Natasha – the red car, the break-in. These jarred, almost as if added as an afterthought to appeal to lovers of crime fiction which I think was unnecessary. The kernel of the story about Bethany and Lizzie is fascinating in its own right.

Pale as the Dead is the first of two Natasha Blake novels.
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If you like this genealogy mystery, try:-
Blood-Tied’ by Wendy Percival
The Seven Sisters’ by Lucinda Riley
The Blood Detective’ by Dan Waddell 

If you’d like to share a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
PALE AS THE DEAD by @FionaMountain#FamilyHistory #Mystery https://wp.me/paZ3MX-3z via #AdoptionStoriesBlog

True #adoption story… Laurence Peat #AdoptionReunion

Today’s adoption story from the UK television series Long Lost Family focuses on a birth child who searched for many years for his birth mother but never found her. The sense of rejection never left this 55-year old lorry driver from Chesterfield, UK.

Long Lost Family

Laurence Peat says, “I’ve only ever cried three times in my life. When Dad died. When Mum died. When I got divorced.” Crying is not a problem to Laurence by the end of this programme. He was told he was adopted when he was seven. “We’re not your real parents,” his adoptive parents told him and he asked no questions, not wanting to upset them. “I don’t like people being upset,” he explains. For years he searched secretly for his birth parents, now that both his adoptive parents are dead he feels able to be open about his search, open about his need to ask ‘why?’

“Why did she put me up for adoption at that early age… If you’re not wanted, it hurts.”  Sadly for Laurence, his birth mother is found to be dead. But he has a half-sister who, from a box of family photographs kept by her mother, produces a black-and-white photo of an unidentified baby. This treasured box survived multiple house moves, proving its importance.

Laurence compares this photograph with one his adoptive parents have of him of the day they adopted him: it is the same baby, wearing the same clothes, photographed against the same background. So although Laurence will never meet his birth mother, he is reassured that “she never forgot me all that time.”

Helpful ‘adoption search’ resources, suggested by the team behind the Long Lost Family television programme.
Want to appear on Long Lost Family?
Help with late discovery adoption.

If you like this true story, try:-
George Orwell
Jenna Cook
Ramiro Osorio Cristales 

Ignoring Gravity

 

Rose Haldane in Ignoring Gravity is confident about her identity. She pulls the same face as her grandfather when she has to do something she doesn’t want to do, she knows her DNA is the same as his. Except it isn’t: because Rose is adopted and doesn’t know it. First in the ‘Identity Detective’ series. BUY

 

If you’d like to share a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
How adoptee Laurence searches for his birth mother #adoptionreunion https://wp.me/paZ3MX-3t via #AdoptionStoriesBlog

The #paternity question #researching #adoptionreunion

People have been having affairs – and illegitimate children – since the world began. For me, this means hundreds of story ideas for the ‘Identity Detective’ series. For family history researchers, it presents a big dilemma: whether to believe what the records say. Adultery is notoriously difficult to trace through the records, with many women giving birth to babies whose father is not her husband.

[photo: @SandraDanby]

How do you spot a problem? Look out for:-

Family rumours. Is it spiteful gossip, or is the rumour confirmed from different sources?

Timing. Where was the father nine months before the birth? Did the birth take place a suspiciously short time after the wedding? Why is the paternity questioned?

Physical likeness, does a child look like its father? Not a reliable measure, as often children are genetic throwbacks and resemble neither of their parents.

Is it known that the mother had affairs? Check the divorce records for evidence of adultery.

Are the parents living apart, so suggesting a marriage separation. Check the Census.

A marriage breakdown is often evident in a person’s will, an estrangement may be mentioned. Or there may be a bequest to someone not in the immediate family.

Was the sibling not particularly close to his or her father? And is there evidence of another man being involved in the child’s upbringing; this may be unconscious interest, evident only through the observation of relatives.

If someone on your family tree has a number of these inconsistencies, there may be a case of ‘paternity fraud’. Always approach your research with care and sensitivity for the feelings of relatives.

[photo: @SandraDanby]

This post was inspired by Ed Dutton’s article ‘Who’s the daddy?’ in the May 2016 issue of the UK’s Who Do You Think You Are? magazine. Read more about Ed Dutton here.

For more articles about researching family records, try:-
Searching British newspaper archives
Researching European records
Where to start your #adoptionreunion search 

Sandra Danby

 

Rose Haldane is confident about her identity. She pulls the same face as her grandfather when she has to do something she doesn’t want to do, she knows her DNA is the same as his. Except it isn’t: because Rose is adopted and doesn’t know it.
First in the ‘Identity Detective’ series.
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Watch the book trailer for the ‘Identity Detective’ series.

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
The #paternity question #adoptionreunion https://wp.me/paZ3MX-3m via #AdoptionStoriesBlog

#Researching European records #familyhistory #adoption

If your adoption search takes you to Europe, the prospect of researching abroad may be a little intimidating. The wealth and ease of information varies from country to country, some records are highly digitised but others are slow to go online. Much of it, though, is searchable in English. Here are some places to start.

[photo: geology.com]

At Family Searchthe search/records/research by location facility allows you to choose a specific country. For each location there is an index of collections and some ‘image only’ entries where the original document is photographed. A quick search for Spain revealed a bewildering amount of information, much by Spanish region or city, including births, marriages and deaths, business records and occupations, church history, census, taxation, land and wills. The benefit of starting here is that the Family Search website is in English, allowing you to travel through the relative sections with ease.

Wie Was Wie, or Who Was Who, is a Dutch genealogical site available in English. It has a wealth of information including civil registration certificates, population registers, church books, statements of succession [wills], sea voyages, family announcements in newspapers, military registers, prison and hospital registers. In total, 174 million people feature in the Wie Was Wie archives.

If you are searching for French relatives, visit Geneanet, also available in English. As well as French archives it also has records for other European countries. A quick search revealed grave records from Londerzeel in Belgium; coats of arms searchable by place, name and guild; gravestone inscriptions from Watford, UK; and newspapers from the USA, New Zealand, Algeria and Spain. So far 1,440,447 graves are included in the database and visitors to Geneanet are invited to contribute their own images of gravesones.

For information about Germany, search Compgen. There is a bewildering amount of information here on a rather old-fashioned looking website which requires you to read German. The forum, however, is in English and when I looked included questions on the origin and meaning of the name Heisinger; the Reichsrevolver Model 1883 with a Prussian eagle stamp on the barrel; how to search for living people; and a request for information about a Prussian family, Johann and Charlotte Mordas.

If your foreign ancestor arrived in the UK and settled here, start first with the reader guides at the National Archives. Free guides includealiens’ registration cards, immigration, naturalisation, British citizenship, refugees, foreign affairs and foreign countries. If your research is historical there is even advice on finding records of French lands owned by the English Crown between the 11thand 16thcentury. For further French records, start with the Archives Nationales.

[photo: archives-nationales.culture.gouv.fr]

The Danish Demographic Database, in English, allows access to Danish records including census since 1787, probate index, Copenhagen Police Emigration Protocols for 1869-1908 with 217,000 Danish emigrants leaving for abroad. Many additional archives are available only in Danish.

Europeana is a fantastic resource of life and culture in Europe including books, documents, newspapers, art, videos and oral histories from European collections. The photography section features 2.25 million images and now includes 2205 items from the National Library of Spain. As well as this ballet dancer [below] in the art section, there is a considerable archive of World War One images. Europeana allows searching by colour, sources, topics, people and time periods.

[photo: europeana.eu]

If you run up against language issues, remember to try Google Translate. It will translate a word, phrase or passage of text and, if you come across a website without an English language option, simply enter the full web address in the left hand box on Google Translate and click the blue ‘translate’ button.

If you’re searching for relatives and want to search online safely try the Lost Cousins website, which matches you with other people researching the same ancestors. It’s worth signing up for the Lost Cousins newsletter too.

This post is inspired by an article in the May 2018 issue of ‘Who Do You Think You Are?’ magazine.

For more articles about researching family records, try:-
20 top tips to find your missing family
Further information & #HelpfulLinks
Where to start your #adoptionreunion search 

Don’t know where to start investigating your own family history? Try this:-
‘Who Do You Think You Are? The Genealogy Handbook’ by Dan Waddell BUY

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
#Researching European records #familyhistory #adoption https://wp.me/paZ3MX-3e via #AdoptionStoriesBlog

A #genealogy #mystery ‘Blood-Tied’ by Wendy Percival @wendy_percival

A mysterious beginning with an invalid, threatened by a stranger. Just who is this woman and what is her connection to Esme Quentin? BloodTied by Wendy Percival is the first of the Esme Quentin series of genealogical mysteries.

Esme’s older sister Elizabeth is attacked and in hospital in a coma. Why was she in a town forty miles from home? Did she fall, or was she pushed? And who are the two people in photographs hidden in Elizabeth’s treasured locket? At the start of this story, Esme knows who her family is but once she starts to dig into Elizabeth’s odd accident/attack she uncovers a complicated family history that had me confused at times. This genealogical mystery involves a long-ago family argument, a derelict canal and a feisty elderly lady in a residential home. Esme is a bit like a dog with a bone, she won’t give up despite getting the jitters in the dark of the night.

Two things would have made my reading experience easier. Esme’s history – scar, widow, background as investigative journalist – was thinly drawn so it felt as if I was reading part two of a two-book series. The family twists and turns were such that I was often lost, perhaps because so much was told as Esme discovered paperwork, rather than seeing the action on the page by the characters concerned. That said, the menace builds nicely though I read to the end to find out what happened to Polly, the feisty lady.
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If you like this genealogy mystery, try:-
‘The Blood Detective’ by Dan Waddell
The Seven Sisters’ by Lucinda Riley
‘The Storm Sister’ by Lucinda Riley 

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
BLOOD-TIED by @wendy_percival #genealogy #mystery https://wp.me/paZ3MX-38 via #AdoptionStoriesBlog