A decade ago, when researching my first novel, I traveled to Cornwall, England. After reading so many books on the West Country, and then seeing the countryside for myself, I became interested in the strange rock formations that the Cornish imbue with mystical powers. That’s when I struck on the idea for my recent release, Ring of Stone.
The Cornish believe there is magic in a stone ring, usually formed by centuries of wind and rain. I used such a formation in my story. A ring that would save one character from evil and encourage another to face her deepest emotions.
However, this mystical aspect is only a small part of the story that portrays a determined young woman in the eighteenth century to strive to become a physician. Women were barred from medical school in this era, though several did practice in the remoter areas of England, usually taking over after a doctor husband’s death.
My heroine, Rose Gwynn, travels to Cornwall from America with her family after her father accepts a position at a bank. In this foreign land, she defies her parents and approaches the village doctor, resolved to ingratiate herself into his practice. Dr. Nelson is hiding a dark secret, and fears Miss Gwynn’s closeness will reveal it and ruin him. While sympathetic to her wishes, he refuses her and sends her away; but the doctor’s trials are just beginning.
Meanwhile, Rose’s beautiful sister becomes engaged to a local peer. Catern Tresidder, who works in the village tavern, was molested by this man—and far more—and she is desperate to warn Rose. But no one wants to believe a former servant, purportedly jealous and out for revenge. Catern must forge a new path in her life and come to terms with her tragic past.
These three characters, Rose, Catern, and Nelson, will collide, helping and hindering one another as the story progresses. The ring of stone behind Rose’s home holds the key to her past and future—and her sister’s life—as the novel concludes on a dangerous, windswept cliffside.
To make my story authentic, I researched the medical practices for the late eighteenth-century and was delighted to find this resource online: http://www.americanrevolution.org/medicine.html. This site has a digitalized version of Dr. W. Buchan’s (a member of the Royal Society in London) 1785 treatise on medical treatment. I was surprised when reading this to discover a modern take on the importance of cleanliness and exercise.
This is the time of the French Revolution, when women were demanding to be educated the same as the men. Rose will also make these demands, though women wouldn’t be admitted to medical schools for another century.
I hope readers will enjoy this journey into the myths and realities of eighteenth-century Cornwall, and the struggles of these characters as they learn to evolve and find their own happiness.
For more information on my books, please visit my website: http://www.dianescottlewis.org