The Testament of Sophie Dawes – a new Victorian Gothic novel

16th March 2016
Ladies and gentlemen, today is the launch day of my latest work: The Testament of Sophie Dawes. Hurrah!

I would like to tell you all about it. Firstly, here is the cover:
book cover shows gold lettering and lace motif, entitled The Testament of Sophie Dawe
Sophie Dawes was a real person, and her story represents the ultimate 'rags to riches' tale, but with a strange and bizarre twist. The sub-title, the Queen of Chantilly, refers to her position as mistress to one of the wealthiest French noblemen of the 19th Century, the Duc de Condé. His lands included the area known as Chantilly in northern France.

We know Chantilly largely by its famous association with the manufacture of fine lace. And I have used the motive of lace on both the cover and throughout the video trailer (foot of this page).

The novel itself can best be described as a combination of Biographical Fiction and Magical Realism. It is also what is termed an epistolary novel, written in the form of journal entries and letters. Here, by way of elaboration, is the synopsis from the back cover:

"England 1862 – and the nation is in mourning for the death of the Prince Consort, when a newly appointed archivist arrives at the Queen’s island residence of Osborne, enticed by the prospect of long country walks as much as by his professional duties. But his plans are forced to change as he uncovers a complex web of intrigue and scandal that reaches from revolutionary France to the very heart of Victorian Society. What is he to make of such an unwelcome discovery? And who is the mysterious woman he encounters again and again when walking by the sea?
A testament from the grave that reveals one of the most powerful yet maligned of 19th Century courtesans whose life has been almost erased from history. But it is knowledge that does not please everyone."

Sophie Dawes - an extraordinary history

But there is quite a lot more to it than that. When researching the story I uncovered a series of what, to me, were extraordinary coincidences. These ultimately resolved themselves into a number of tantalising inter-relationships between the life of Sophie Dawes, the Orleans and Bourbon royal families of France and our own Queen Victoria.
young Regency woman in white dress, dark hair
Sophie DawesSophie as a young woman
Sophie had a very strong hold over some of the most important people in 19th Century European history. How and why this came about, and the nature of her powers has always been a mystery among those few who have chosen to investigate her story. This book seeks to resolve some of the mystery by providing Sophie with an opportunity to tell her side of the story.

Lots to look forward to in the reading, especially if you like your historical fiction to contain plenty of Gothic mystery and darkness - qualities that build steadily as the story progresses. The message beneath the surface is a very positive one, however.

All current links as to where to buy can be found on my main website here. While there is also a set of extra web pages here to accompany the novel. This contains portraits, photos and maps to add to your enjoyment of the story.

I do hope you enjoy it.

Authored by Robert Stephen Parry
Book Trailer.

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