The Neal saga
The trilogy relates the 200-year Neal family history, beginning in the Scottish borders with the birth of William, and flows through the decades up to 1991.
Finale (1894 to 1991).The family’s fortunes take a spiral. Robert Neal’s wife Hannah does not care about the disinheritance. She becomes a suffragist. Their son William is killed in action at Ypres in WW1. Robert dies in the post-war influenza pandemic.
Their militant suffragette daughter, Charlotte, volunteers as a VAD (auxiliary nurse). When the war ends, she marries John Forsythe, a pilot.
Years later Charlotte visits her daughter, Elizabeth, in London, where she is training to be a nurse. Tragically, they are both killed in the blitz.
Before losing his life in the St Nazaire raid, their commando son Robert William fathers an illegitimate child, named James McVitie. He becomes a surgeon and bends the rules. Disaster follows.
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William Neal was born in 1791 in the Scottish borders. He spent his initial years as a poor ploughboy, almost enslaved by the draconian Earl of Brackenholm. Rotten conditions and lack of food took many lives, so William watched his sister, mother, and father all pass away. His only salvation was the hours he had dedicated to learning to read and write. Knowledge and bravery were his only weapons when he decided to run away from Brackenholm at 15 years old and head to London.
On his journey, William encountered a host of different people from bargees to drovers, learning important life lessons from each of them. When he eventually reached Paddington Basin on a barge, he had completed the hardest journey of his life. Little did he know the lessons he had learned would help him become successful beyond belief.
William Neal’s fortunes change following his marriage to the daughter of his employer, a banker. The printing house he builds up brings him wealth. Sadly his young wife dies, but not before giving birth to a son, Robert.
By a great stroke of luck, when playing a card game against a tricky Earl, William wins the Brackenholm Estate from which, as a mere ploughboy, he had escaped. His fortune would revive the waning economies of the estate.
When William dies, Robert sells his shares in the printing works and becomes a Member of Parliament. Robert’s elder son, also named William, inherits the estate, while his younger son Robert decides on a career as a surgeon, marries a servant and is disinherited.
In the first volume of the trilogy, The Ploughboy, William Neal, ran away from his wretched life lifting stones from fields along the Scottish Borders. Reaching London with no assets, William became just another hungry urchin among many, until honesty and a happy coincidence gained him the role of assistant coachman on a privately owned carriage. The banker owner recognised William’s potential and decided to offer the youngster a job as a teller.
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