Fiction Ed’s Book Review

“The Buttonmaker’s Daughter” by Merryn Allingham is a traditional period family saga, set in May 1914, with the deepening tensions in Europe reaching as far as the quiet Sussex countryside. That’s where Elizabeth Summers lives at the family mansion, Summerhayes. But the peaceful idyll has become stifling to her, so that when she meets architect’s assistant Aiden Kellaway, at the house working on a pet project of her father’s, she sees him as a way out. However, the upkeep of a house like that requires that she marry well – and a man of trade doesn’t quite cut the mustard with her forceful family.

Add in the fact that he’s from an Irish family with links to the Irish Republican Brotherhood, and he becomes the enemy.

Elizabeth has to tread a careful path if she wants to follow her heart and find true love, but will family pressure and expectation be too much for her?

This is a traditional saga in many ways, but made more interesting by the characterisation of Elizabeth herself, no weak and winsome period “gel”. She’ll fight for her rights, what she believes is right, and for those she loves, too.

The story also has a nice authenticity in the language and the mores of the time, the result of rigorous research by the writer.

I enjoyed it and was delighted to find that Merryn has written a sequel, bringing the story up to the summer of 1944.

“The Buttonmaker’s Daughter” by Merryn Allingham is out now in paperback, HQ, £7.99, and look out for its sequel, “The Secrets of Summerhayes”, out on 27th July.  If you would like to keep in touch with Merryn, sign up for her newsletter at

And Merryn has written a short story exclusively for “People’s Friend” readers, titled “Going To Barbados” which you can read with a mini-interview, in Special 140, on sale May 10.


Shirley Blair

Fiction Ed Shirley’s been with the “Friend” since 2007 and calls it her dream job because she gets to read fiction all day every day. Hobbies? Well, that would be reading! She also enjoys writing fiction when she has time, long walks, travel, and watching Scandi thrillers on TV.