on 15 July 2013
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this novel. I found myself totally immersed in the Victorian story, at the same time eager to uncover the truth behind the Wedding Certificate. It's a fascinating plot, with lives and events being revealed in a simple narrative style which I felt made it all the more realistic and emotional. I was impressed by the amount of research which must have gone into the book and how the author has managed to mix historical fact, human emotion and modern genealogical techniques into one brilliant story.
on 26 July 2013
This book was engaging both due to the family history that forms the story's core, and the genealogical methods used to discover that history. Whilst the family may itself be fictional, the author writes of its members with such authority and knowledge of his subject that it is easy to see this as almost a universal tale of ancestry.
Although I feel that the plot drags a little towards the middle, it quickly picks up pace again and leads to an interesting finale.
A great deal of research has clearly been done, particularly with regards to dates and the nature of the Boer and First World wars. The writing style suits the content insofar as it is straightforward and designed to further the plot, rather than lingering for too long on descriptive detail.
It is a book well worth reading.
on 13 November 2013
I bought this book on a recommendation from an acquaintance.
While the subject matter was of interest initially the author soon got bogged down in detailed explanation, which became quite tedious after a while.
I found an error in this detail which then had me wondering exactly what else might be incorrect and in the end I gave up caring about the characters and the outcome. I persevered until the end but even the last minute "beat the clock" scramble left me cold.
On the whole this was an interesting plot idea that was suffocated by too much minutiae and poor execution.
on 30 May 2013
I really enjoyed this book. As a keen amateur genealogist myself, I could really relate to how addicted Peter became with trying to solve the mysteries he was uncovering as the result of buying an old marriage certificate that had caught his eye on an antique stall. The story was very well-written, and the characters believable, and I was gripped from start to finish! I hope the author will write some more novels on this sort of subject. Highly recommended.
Amateur genealogist, Peter Sefton, purchases a marriage certificate from an antiques centre. It catches his eye and he decides to try and find out more about the people who married in 1900 and their witnesses. This leads him to an unclaimed estate.
This book reminded me a lot of the TV programme Heir Hunters and in fact a firm of genealogical researchers does appear in the book. I loved how Peter dug deeper and deeper into the histories of the various people to eventually solve a mystery. This kind of genealogical fiction is right up my street and there aren't that many decent books like this one around.
There is the modern day investigation and also the story of Louisa and John, Rose and Frank in the early 1900s. If I had one complaint about this book it would be that the 1900s story has a very long section in the book which I think would have benefited from being broken up with a bit of the modern story, but once the story returned in earnest to the modern research the book just absolutely raced along and I couldn't put it down until it reached its conclusion.
An excellent read which will particularly appeal to those who enjoy modern history and family history research.
on 30 April 2014
only 3 stars because the characters are a touch on the 2 dimensional size.
The 'heroine' would have got married by Licence (obtainable locally from a number of clergy who were registered as Surrogates) and MUCH Cheaper than a special licence from the Archbishop of Canterbury (not personally but his Registrar) which would have cost £50 (w working man's annual wage at the beginning of the 19th century).
An Archbishop's licence permits marriage in places not registered for weddings (eg hospitals, prisons, school chapels)
and outside the permitted hours (now 8am to 6pm but then only until 4pm I believe)
Nevertheless it is a good read especially for Family Historians and a snip at 99p
on 23 June 2016
There’s a new genre appearing in mystery, thriller and general fiction sections: #genealogylit. Involving a combination of old-fashioned mystery, family history, detective fiction and combined historical and modern-day settings, #genealogylit has grown from the love of family history research and television programmes such as ‘Who Do You Think You Are?’ and ‘Long Lost Family’.
‘The Marriage Certificate’ is another example of #genealogylit, combining family secrets with turn of the century British history: the Boer War, the Great War, the merchant navy, the changing role of women and attitudes to illegitimacy. Unlike other #genealogylit however, it is not a crime novel, there is no murder. It is the story of two couples - the bride and groom, Louisa and John, best man Frank and bridesmaid Rose - at a wedding on January 15, 1900; their lives, loves, dangers and tragedies. Running alongside is a modern-day strand. In 2011, amateur genealogist Peter Sefton finds the marriage certificate of Louisa and John’s wedding in an antiques shop and his curiosity is piqued. As he researches the names on the certificate, we also see their lives unfolding in a rapidly-changing world as the 19th century turns into the 20th. The men leave home to fight, while the women stay at home. War brings a change of life, but social mores remain Victorian.
Meanwhile, an elderly man dies alone in London. Without relatives, Harry Williams is listed on the Bona Vacantia list of unclaimed estates. In 2011, a professional heir hunting company starts to research Williams’ life in the hope of finding distant relatives and earn a share of the money. How will Highborn Research’s investigation coincide with Peter’s? Is there a connection to Laura and John? And who will inherit Harry Williams’ money?
This is not a thrilling page-turner with rapid action on every page, instead it is a slow-burning story rooted in historical detail which, for me, came alive in the final 100 pages. Perhaps this is due to the writing style, which can be a little formal and repetitive, and the author’s tendency to include tiny details. I did wonder whether the storyline was based on real people, the genealogical detail is fascinating and it is clear the author knows the research procedure, its twists and turns. I read this over one weekend, and found myself sitting up late to read to the end. Incidentally, the last page leaves the story hanging – but don’t be tempted to look!