When I was a child I just couldn't wait for Christmas—I think most children start thinking about the holidays around about October 1st! I loved it, especially, when the postman came to deliver Christmas cards—I'd watch for him to make his way down the bumpy road that led to our house, until at last he opened the gate, walked up the path and pushed the envelopes through the letterbox. I'd be waiting on the other side of the door to catch them. Amid all those cards there was a special one I was waiting for—the card from my aunt who lived in Canada. Hers was the "Across the Miles" card. Each year the illustration was different, but one that spoke to the distance between us, yet at the same time seemed to say, "It's OK, we're not so far, really." There might be a globe with a ribbon around it, or a map with two countries joined by glitter. I remember one year there was photograph of a Christmas tree festooned with baubles, and each one a globe reflecting a different country.
My mother had not seen her sister in years—in those days crossing the Atlantic was a very big deal, and the idea of jumping on a 'plane at the drop of a hat was only for the really rich, and I think even they thought twice about it. But when that card arrived, I remember thinking a lot about the distance between us, and what it must be like to leave your family, everyone you loved most in the world, and set off for a place so far away. It seemed at once daunting, yet exciting. I think it was then that the very first seeds of LEAVING EVERYTHING MOST LOVED, the new novel featuring Maisie Dobbs, must have been sewn.
I'll be telling you more about the book in the new year. Until then, I wish you a very good Holiday season. May you be blessed with peace and comfort, with joy and good cheer, and may you be close to those you love and who love you in return—even if that closeness is a good old chat on Skype. Gone are the days when a call overseas had to be booked days in advance!
LEAVING EVERYTHING MOST LOVED by Jacqueline Winspear, will be published on March 26th by Harper Collins Publishers. You can pre-order it here: