SARAH Ferguson, Duchess of York, has written her first novel for adults. The book – billed as an “immersive historical saga” – is titled Her Heart For A Compass and will be released by romantic fiction publisher Mills & Boon.
Wait, did you say Mills & Boon?
Affirmative. Do not adjust your reading glasses.
Aren’t romance novels a tad gauche?
Hmmm. That’s arguably a snobbish and outdated view. Mills & Boon is the UK’s top publisher of romantic fiction with more than 700 new titles each year and able to lay claim to selling a novel every 10 seconds. Even if the genre isn’t your bag, they must be doing something right.
Name one great author who has written for Mills & Boon?
PG Wodehouse. Jack London. Rosamunde Pilcher.
I stand corrected. So, what will the Duchess of York be writing about?
Her Heart For A Compass is based on the life of her great-great-aunt, Lady Margaret Montagu Douglas Scott. It is written in collaboration with established Mills & Boon novelist Marguerite Kaye who has penned more than 50 books, set in a variety of eras, for the imprint.
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The plot reportedly “sweeps the reader from the drawing rooms of [Queen] Victoria’s court and the grand country houses of Scotland and Ireland, to the slums of London and the mercantile bustle of 1870s New York”.
Where did the idea come from?
Genealogy, personal experience and imagination. According to the duchess: “It all started with researching my ancestry. Digging into the history of the Montagu-Douglas Scotts, I first came across Lady Margaret, who intrigued me because she shared one of my given names.
“But although her parents, the Duke and Duchess of Buccleuch, were close friends with Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, I was unable to discover much about my namesake’s early life, and so was born the idea which became Her Heart For A Compass.”
She has also admitted to drawing on “many parallels from my life” for the intriguing tale.
Remind me of her writing credentials?
The Duchess of York is author of numerous children’s books, including the Little Red and Budgie, The Little Helicopter series, as well as non-fiction about Queen Victoria and her own memoirs.
For the big screen, she conceived the idea for the 2009 movie Young Victoria, starring Emily Blunt and written by Julian Fellowes. She was also a producer on the film and her daughter, Princess Beatrice, had a minor part.
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The duchess worked on a 2019 documentary about Princess Louise of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg, Prince Albert’s mother.
Could this be the start of a new career path?
Possibly. She certainly has plenty of material from her time in the royal family.
When can I read it?
Her Heart For A Compass will be published by Mills & Boon on August 3.