Barefoot on the Cobbles is emphatically not a romance, yet it is a novel about people and people have relationships. Annie appears as a love interest for Leonard. There is an argument for removing the whole story of their courtship from the novel but I feel that it needs to be there. Leonard is not a principal player in the main events and as such, can give a different perspective. Annie is the vehicle for exploring a relationship that contrasts with Daisy’s association with Abraham.
Mary Ann (Annie) Stoneman was just a Victorian, being born twenty days before the death of Queen Victoria. She was the fifth child in a family of ten and five of her siblings died as infants. Her father, Sidney, was a labourer and the family moved frequently. Annie was born at Bulland in Parkham and as a small child spent time living with her mother’s grandmother in Clovelly. She later went to school in Monkleigh. In 1909 the family spent a few months living at Rakeham Toll House, near Torrington and Annie transferred to Frithelstock School. A family story relates that a tramp was found on the doorstep of the Toll House with his throat cut. This may be why they only spent a few months there before before moving again to Bideford, where they lived at Brookfield Terrace, East the Water.
When her step grandfather died, Annie was sent to Clovelly to help her maternal grandmother, Mary Ann Smale, in her Clovelly tea-rooms. It is here that we and Leonard, first meet her. I don’t want to give away too much of her story but she did marry and brought up her family in Bideford. She died there at the age of 97.
‘As Leonard drew level with the small panes of blemished glass his eye was drawn by a sudden movement within. Enveloped in a large, wrap-round apron, a slender girl was in the window, dusting the deep sill and readying it for the day’s display of cakes.’
Barefoot on the Cobbles will be published on 17 November 2018. More information about the novel can be found here. Copies will be available at various events in the weeks following the launch or can be pre-ordered from Blue Poppy Publishing or the author.