The Boundary Stone
The Stockbridge Series # 1
By- Gail Avery Halverson
Genre- Historical Fiction/Romance
Bound since childhood to an arranged marriage with the restless and irresponsible heir of Houghton Hall, Viscount Miles Houghton; Lady Catherine Abbott, now grown, finds herself torn between duty to her family and her smoldering ambitions. Possessed of a nimble, curious mind, a love of science and the natural world, and a singular talent for illustration, Catherine desperately longs to accomplish something before she resigns herself to a loveless marriage and the idle, aristocratic whirl of parties and social gatherings within the confines of the palatial Houghton Hall.
Banished before his final year of medical training for pushing harder on the boundaries of scientific knowledge than any student at St. Bartholomew’s Hospital, the mysterious and driven Simon McKensie has blurred the lines between research and criminality and must now choose between exile to the rural country village of Wells, or the hangman’s noose.
When the terrifying Great Plague of 1665 spreads from London to Wells, the town’s very existence is threatened and Catherine must confront her fears, her place in the world – and the burning passions she has long held inside.
What do you love about writing historical fiction?
I actually love the research! I love how, while looking up a piece of information, one fascinating tidbit leads you to another, equally fascinating, story, which in turn fires up the imagination about how those stories might intertwine. And, you never know where the information may turn up, which is really fun, too. By chance, I found a small book in my son’s bookshelf, entitled, “Six Great Scientists.” It was just a book for kids, but in that book, I read that Isaac Newton was an early member of the Royal Society during the same time that “The Boundary Stone” takes place. It is completely plausible that paths could cross - and now Isaac may turn up in the sequel…
Another fascinating tidbit I unearthed was that a 143 foot tall maypole really did exist on The Strand in London in 1664. That is a maypole over 14 stories high. It must have really been something to see. I know they had fulcrums, scaffolding and engineers, but a 14-story maypole still strikes me as amazing! The Bride’s Pie was also authentic - and a nifty cross-piece of information from the nursery rhyme we all know - four and twenty blackbirds baked in a pie. It was just a small bit of information I found while researching kitchen tools, but when I saw it, I knew it had to be woven into the story!
Mostly though, I am fascinated in the way that one small observation or discovery by one person builds on itself and civilization moves forward. In “The Boundary Stone,” Simon has observed that separating the sick from those who have broken bones keeps the latter from getting sick. He applies that knowledge to the extraordinary circumstance he finds himself in, and the outcome changes for the better.
It is said that chimpanzees in the wild have discovered how to use stones to make their lives easier, and with that, it is said that the chimpanzees have now entered the Stone Age. History repeats itself, and it is absolutely amazing.
About the Author
GAIL HALVERSON is the playwright and composer of musical plays that have been performed for over 250,000 children since 2004. Writing for both theater and television, she holds a degree in English Literature and Communications from the University of California, Davis; and is currently at work on a television pilot for Double Trouble Productions, Inc. She lives in Northern California with her husband and son. The Boundary Stone is her first novel.