12:21PM, Wednesday 20 November 2013
Author Essie Fox did not have to look far for inspiration when she wrote her latest novel.
Essie, 51, made her own house in Claremont Road, Windsor the main location of the story where the central character Alice lives with her aunt Mercy, a medium.
While researching the neighbourhood on Google, Essie got a surprise when she came across the story of a woman who established a refuge for homeless and unmarried mothers.
She said: "I read with enormous interest that when her health was failing that lady came to live in my house and died in one of my bedrooms. I read with a sense of disbelief that that woman’s refuge had been called the House of Mercy.”
Another, grimmer coincidence followed. A beautiful Victorian building in Park Street burns down in Essie's book - the same building burned down in reality a week after she finished writing it.
Her new book the Goddess and the Thief is an eerie story involving a mysterious cursed diamond and Queen Victoria who believes it could hold the key to connecting to the spirit of her beloved dead husband Albert. There is even a seance at Windsor Castle.
Essie, a former illustrator, scored a success with her first novel The Somnambulist, another Victorian gothic
She decided to write after her daughter left home and scored an instant success when the book was discussed on television in Channel Four's the Cactus TV Book Club.
Her new novel is published by Orion on December 5.
It is full of local landmarks, including Holy Trinity Church in Claremont Road, the old burial ground in
Bachelors Acre and ancient St Mary Magdalene in Boveney.
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