In 1844 John returns from four years in the newly merged provinces of Canada, thankful to be returning to civilisation. The new steam technology carries him across the ocean, and swiftly back home to Brackley. But not to the comfortable family home he remembers. He arrives to find his mother newly dead and his family in disarray, each of the brothers longing to escape the control of their autocratic father; Edward the compliant eldest brother who yearns to go to the new lands in the USA; Robin forced by his father to be a land surveyor when the only thing that interests him is steam technology and the inventions which are springing up from it; Arthur held under his Father's thumb in the family business; Charles longing for the gaiety of London society. Only Augustus has escaped - he ran away to sea years ago.
After his semi independent life putting their lands in Canada into order, John obeys his father reluctantly, scheming to escape to the glories of British India. And he is uneasy over the manner of his mother's death. The inquest finds her death natural, but, in what had seemed to him a united family, he discovers rifts and shoals, hatreds and conflicting wishes.
Set in 1844, Family Matters portrays life in a stratum of society seldom covered by historians - not the upper classes, not the poor, but the respectable middle classes. The story is told from the viewpoint of young men starting their lives, fired with enthusiasm for the times they live in, a time of great social and technological change.
Yvonne Thomas, as Poppy Raven, has written mysteries set in the English home counties at the end of the twentieth century. Having done extensive research into her family history, and traced one line back to the Conqueror, Yvonne has branched out into historical fiction. Inspired by the life of her great great grandfather John Weston, she has written the first book of this series based around his family at the turning point - when he decides to go to India. Though perhaps it was a little lacking in respect to murder her great great great grandmother...