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The DESERT CROP

The DESERT CROP

A NOVEL

Shocking tragedy unexpectedly frees a young man to pursue the love and happiness he thought were unattainable in this family saga by Catherine Cookson, who remains even after her death one of the world's best loved historical novelists.
Money was tight in the fanning communities around Fellburn, England, in the 1880s, so when Hector Stewart, only two years after the death of his long-suffering wife, announces to his children, Daniel and Pattie, that he is to marry Moira Conelly, a "wealthy" distant relative who lives in "a castle" in Ireland, it is easy to discern his motive. As for Moira, who had not been entirely honest about her background or finances, she has convinced herself that she would be marrying into landed gentry, allowing her the leisured lifestyle to which she believes herself entitled. It is with sonic surprise, therefore, after she arrives with her companion, Maggie Ann, that she realizes she is now the mistress of a ramshackle farm without any servants. Nonetheless, with her ever-cheerful disposition, Moira soon settles into the Stewart family routine.
Pattie, always the rebel, leaves home to be married, but Daniel, deprived of an opportunity to study at university by his father's insistence that he stay on the farm, can see no escape. Moira and Hector's marriage of convenience works well enough at first, but as their growing family compounds their financial difficulties, Hector's behavior toward her changes disturbingly. A horrifying act of violence provokes an even more shocking act of retribution in the family.
Yet, this tragedy opens the way for Daniel to expand his horizons and to find the love and joy that have long been denied him.
Set in Catherine Cookson's now familiar area of northeast England, Fellburn and its surroundings, this deeply felt novel of family conflict will be admired as one of the most powerful Cookson wrote in a career that spanned more that forty years.
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  • Simon & Schuster | 
  • 320 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781451660104 | 
  • June 2011
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Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1
Daniel stared up at his father and wondered why a man so old could still retain boyish habits, for his father wasn't sitting behind but on the edge of his study desk and was swinging one leg the while he talked to Pattie. When he had anything of importance to say he always talked to Pattie, never to him, perhaps because she was four years older, being thirteen now. Yet at the same time he knew his father very often got angry with Pattie, and he was showing signs of it now because his leg was swinging more quickly than usual. She had just said to him, 'Mother has only been dead for two years, and the house goes on the same way, so... see more

About the Author

Catherine Cookson

Catherine Cookson lived in Northumberland, England, the setting of many of her international bestsellers. Born in Tyne Dock, she was the illegitimate daughter of an impoverished woman, Kate, whom she was raised to believe was her older sister. She began to work in the civil service but eventually moved south to Hastings, where she met and married a local grammar school master.
Although she was originally acclaimed as a regional writer, in 1968 her novel The Round Tower won the Winifred Holtby Award, her readership quickly spread worldwide, and her many bestselling novels established her as one of the most popular contemporary authors. After receiving an OBE in 1985, Catherine Cookson was made a Dame of the British Empire in 1993. She died shortly before her ninety-second birthday, in June 1998, having completed 104 works.

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