The Flame Within

London, 1923

Alice Linford stands on the pavement and stares up at the large Victorian house set back from the road—the house that is to be her new home.

But it isn’t her house. It belongs to someone else—to a Mrs Violet Osborne. A woman who was no more than a name at the end of an advertisement for a companion that had caught her eye three weeks earlier.

More precisely, it wasn’t Mrs Osborne’s name that had caught her eye—it was seeing that Mrs Osborne lived in Belsize Park, a short distance only from Kentish Town. Kentish Town, the place where Alice had lived when she’d been Mrs Thomas Linford.

Thomas Linford—the man she still loves, but through her own stupidity, has lost. The man for whom she’s left the small Lancashire town in which she was born to come down to London again. The man she’s determined to fight for.

* * * * *

The Dark Horizon, Book 1 of The Linford Series, took me to London, Oxfordshire and to New York. The Flame Within, Book 2, which takes place between the years 1905 and 1924, is for its entirety located in England.

This is the story of Alice and Thomas Linford. Readers of The Dark Horizon will know that Alice and Thomas lived in Kentish Town. Kentish Town is not far from Belsize Park, and much of the action takes place in Belsize Park, too. And, as always, nearby Hampstead Heath is a popular destination for some of the Linfords.

So, once again, I’ve located the novel in a part of London that I know well – I lived for some years in Belsize Park and went to school in Hampstead. It was a great pleasure to return again to the area in order to decide upon my locations, and to look closely at the housing there.

The lower pond on Hampstead Heath

Walking across the Heath











Mansion flats seen through the tress

The upper pond











The novel takes place also in the North of England. Alice, born Alice Foster, comes from Waterfoot, a small mill town in Lancashire. The Waterfoot that I depict, however, is very different from the Waterfoot I’ve visited many times in recent years, always with great pleasure.

View of Waterfoot, in the Rossendale Valley

Trickett’s Arcade, Waterfoot











As with each of the novels in The Linford Series, I’ve drawn on far too many research books to list them all. However, I must mention A Social History of Housing, 1815-1970, by John Burnett, which was at my side throughout my writing of the novel. It helped me greatly with the background to the Linford & Sons’ building business, with the changing housing scene and with their day-to-day activities. I’d also like to mention The Thirties by Juliet Gardiner, and A Century of Women, by Sheila Rowbotham. From both of these books I learned much about society between the wars.

Finally, for my account of Alice’s early years in Waterfoot and the surrounding area, I owe a great deal to the extensive description of early twentieth century life in Bacup, which is close to Waterfoot, found in a website accessed by It provided me with a wealth of interesting information.