By Rachel Brimble
The Ladies of Carson Street Trilogy
By Rachel Brimble
I was inspired to write my latest Victorian trilogy after reading the brilliant The Five by Hallie Rubenhold, an account and discussion about the five women killed by Jack the Ripper in 1888. As I write historical romance, my series was not in any way inspired by the violence of the killings, but rather the questions and sympathy The Five evoked in me for the poor women accosted by this unidentified murderer.
Although my series revolves around three prostitutes, Hallie presents sound evidence that not all of the Ripper’s victims were prostitutes. Yet, the seed of my imagination and curiosity was roused by how very different these women were, how different their backgrounds and how different the circumstances they found themselves living in Whitechapel.
And so, it these differences that inspired my three heroines, Louisa, Nancy and Octavia. Three women who come together to live and work in a house on Carson Street, Bath in 1851. Each book is given over to one of the women as its star, but all three features through the stories.
Book 1, A Widow’s Vow, is Louisa’s story and this book introduces the women, the house and how the three of them meet and come to work together. Ultimately, the trilogy is about female empowerment and survival. Louisa is a strong and resilient, but when her husband is found dead in a Bath hotel, she is forced to leave the city of Bristol for Bath. Once there, she realises she has little choice but to resurrect her life as a prostitute. However, this time it will be on her own terms…
Book 2, Trouble For The Leading Lady, is Nancy’s
In many ways, Nancy is the antithesis of Louisa. She is impulsive, fun-loving and somewhat more willing to trust others. Yet, if you consider Nancy’s life experience, her tenacity and tendency to look to the future, these two best friends are not as different as they like to think. Nancy has dreams of being onstage but, having been duped before, she cannot afford to believe in the interest shown to her by theatre manager Francis Carlyle. But all too soon, Nancy is drawn into a deeper, more important issue than treading the boards of Bath’s Theatre Royal…
And finally, the concluding book. A Very Modern Marriage (out Feb 2022) belongs to Octavia, the most serious and pessimistic of the three women. I don’t want to give away the reason why, but circumstances in the first two books mean that Octavia is ready to leave Bath (I promise all books can be read stand-alone!), but she is worrying how and when she will be able to do this without feeling she is betraying Louisa and Nancy.
Then she strikes up a mutual deal with a cull who comes to Carson Street – could it be that William Rose, a Manchester cotton mill owner is her ticket to freedom from a life she is so very desperate to flee?
I loved writing about the darker side of Victorian Britain and the streets that were so much more unforgiving that the Assembly Rooms and dining rooms so often featured in historical romantic fiction. More than that, I loved giving Louisa, Nancy and Octavia the happy ever after they deserve. Especially when all three of them have gone through life helping others, doing the best they can, and still believing there are good, trustworthy people in the world.