The Road to Redway (Pt.7)
The Redway Acres Saga consists of six prominent families with varying degrees of power and wealth. The paragraph below is from the blurb about the series.
Redway Acres’ stable in Lincolnshire, near Grantham in England, is the common ground for the families portrayed in the saga: the Stocktons who own Redway, the Harkers from the neighbouring estate of Eastease, the ennobled Ackleys, the beleaguered Wyndhams, the well-connected Bainbridges, and the notable but unwealthy Hopwoods
It is often commented upon that the large number of characters in my stories makes it hard for the reader to keep straight. Believe me, I have lost track of some of them now and again. To help me, I have an enormous spreadsheet, but I have not come up with the best solution for the reader so far.
As relationships develop throughout a book and women’s names change when they marry, there is no one-size-fits-all way to solve this problem. I’ve started to list the main characters and their descriptions on my website, but only the first two books are there at the moment. I also attempted a family tree for the Earl of Aysthill’s family, starting with Nathaniel’s great-grandfather. You can see from this image the connection between the Ackleys, Wyndhams and Bainbridges.
This tree shows you that first cousins share a grandparent (Nathaniel and Ernest Eldridge) and second cousins share a great-grandparent (Nathaniel and Lieutenant Mark Wyndham). Finally, don’t forget, though we spell lieutenant the same as you do in the US, we pronounce it leftenant in the UK.
A cousin is ‘removed’ if there is a difference in their generational line. For example, the twins (featured here twice because Mark Wyndham is their stepfather) are a generational line lower on this family tree than Nathaniel (shown by different colour backgrounds in the frames). Therefore, they are first cousins once removed because their father, Ernest Eldridge, was Nathaniel’s first cousin. The twins’ children would be Nathaniel’s first cousins twice removed. Technically, Harriet and Maria are also Nathaniel’s second cousins once removed as Mark is their stepfather!
It is legal to marry your first cousin. However, even as second cousins, Nathaniel felt Grace a little too close family-wise for his comfort. That did not stop his mother, Lady Aysthill, from recommending Grace to him at any opportunity. Here she is on their carriage ride back to Aysthill after his injury in Spain.
“Your cousin, Grace, has written to me often to find out how you are faring. She is very concerned. When you are well enough, you should visit Bainbridge. Perhaps now you can consider selling your commission? You are thirty, after all. You should be taking a wife and making a family of your own. You could not do any better than Grace...”
The other three families mentioned above—Stocktons, Harkers and Hopwoods soon become connected to the extended Aysthill family and each other. Helena, whose mother’s maiden name was Stockton, quickly becomes embroiled with Nathaniel and other members of the Aysthill family. Alexander Harker is such a close friend to Nathaniel that he considers him like a brother. Together they are guardians of Harriet and Maria Wyndham, and the four of them make quite a family.
Nathaniel considers their situation when he discovers that Alexander is finally ready to think about marrying. He ponders it in book two while he takes a bath.
Nathaniel considered himself lucky that he had Eastease to come to whenever he felt the need. Having no wife or children of his own, the family atmosphere the four of them had created was a salve to his soul after battles. All that was missing was a mother’s touch around the place. So if Harker was finally ready to find a mistress for Eastease, Nathaniel wished him well with it. Whomever it was, though, he hoped she would still allow him to stay as and when he pleased.
Friendships often feature more than family in Redway Acres. For example, when Alexander marries Genevieve Hopwood, Nathaniel considers her and her sisters as his siblings, due to him thinking of Alexander as a brother.
Additionally, though each book centres around a woman, a group of friends mentioned at the beginning of book one is central to the saga. Helena tells a young Jacky Robertson about the young men of whom her grandmother used to tell stories.
“Eastease is owned by Mr. Alexander Harker. My grandmother told me tales of him and his three friends who were always into mischief when they were younger.”
“Who were ‘is friends?” Jacky asked, his dark brown eyes agleam at the thought of mischief.
Helena aimed to satisfy his curiosity. “The eldest was Mark Wyndham, but he became a lieutenant in the navy and died at the Battle of Trafalgar.”
“Who are the other friends of Mr. Harker?” Jacky asked.
“Lieutenant Wyndham’s second cousin, I think. His name is Ackley. He is an officer in the army and the son of the Earl of Aystill. The other is the son of a family that lives near to Redway, the Davenports.”
“D’ya think ya grandmother wud tell me the stories?” Jacky looked hopefully towards Helena.
“She died a few years ago. We will have to see if Grandfather or I can remember any of them. But that will have to wait.”
Indeed, those stories will have to wait. I fully intend to write a companion book about some of the mischief Mark, Nathaniel, Alexander and Robert got into as younger men but not until after two more main Redway books (seven and eight) have been written and released.