Historical novel reveals tough life of Victorian single mum’s

Lilian Forshaw the author has already been deemed a success after her brilliant debut novel that is based upon many real events from her grandmother’s tough life in Brighton.The family narration is based on stories that Forshaw’s grandmother used to tell her and have been used as the base for her novel Single to Brighton which is both a sad and heart warming narration.

Lilian (72) has written a vivid recreation of the bustle of life in turn-of-the-century Brighton with a dramatic tour through the lives of friends and neighbours in the streets and alleyways of Brighton and Hove from 1887 to 1919.

The hero of the tale is 19-year-old Clara who baked cakes in a tea room twelve hours a day with a baby son strapped on her back.

Times became so hard she sought sustenance from a second-hand food shop to help her survive.

And she suffered the dreadful shock of being told she and her children had to get out of their cottage because a woman could not hold a rent book.
Single to Brighton is the first in a planned trilogy of novels based on Lilian’s family tales.

Eminent historian Professor Lisa Jardine says of the book: “Clara’s richly-illuminated story makes me wish I could chart my own grandmother’s life with such depth and clarity. I could not put ‘Single to Brighton’ down. Nor can I wait to hear, in the second volume, what happened next to the intrepid Clara.’
Clara, the focus of the tale, was born in 1868, growing up at her grandparent’s home, the Lamb Inn at Hooe on Pevensey Levels.

She starts work in domestic service soon finding her vocation as a clever and gifted cook but her career is almost derailed by an early relationship.

Escaping from the inn so as not to bring disgrace to her family she takes a train to Brighton and through her own resourcefulness and courage builds a life for herself as a pioneer single mother.

Her story goes on to encompass love, family, strife, loss and all the old fashioned values that thrive in a close-knit but poor community.

The story is threaded through with the reminiscences of life as overseen by pieces of the family’s willow pattern china that can be seen on Lilian’s dresser at Deerfold Cottage, Battle.

Realising she had items that had travelled through life with Clara she lets them tell their secretly spied tales of the family.

‘Single to Brighton’ is published by Book Guild Publishing. Available from all good bookshops and online retailers in hardback. Priced £17.99. www.singletobrighton.co.uk