Novels by Elvi Rhodes

Listed in order of publication. Click here to skip to the latest book, A House by the Sea.

Opal married Edgar Carson when he came back from fighting in World War One, but in the twenties times were tough and there was no work for him. Opal was pregnant for the second time. Edgar lost heart but Opal was a fighter - and a dreamer. She determined that life wouldn't always be like this.

Tied to the house and her children, she set up a shop in her living room - sweets, cotton reels, headache powders and the like - and dreamed of the day when she would have her own real shop, indeed, why not a whole department store, and life would be happy for all of them. Then she set about to make her dream come true.

First published Jan 1984
ISBN 0 55212367 6

All her life Rose had wanted to be a doctor. When she played with her dolls it was always to cure them of some dire illness. With her own hard work and dedication, and the help of her parents, she achieved her ambition, only to find that as a woman doctor in the 'twenties she was far from acceptable. In the Infant Welfare Clinic she set up in the poorest part of the city it was a long fight against poverty and ignorance in the very women she was trying to help and, on the other side, strong prejudice from her male colleagues.

First published Oct 1984
ISBN 0 55212607 1

When her mother died and her father re-married Ruth seized the chance to emigrate, with her cousins, to America in search of a better life. After the terrible voyage across the Atlantic they went on, as planned, to Wisconsin, but Ruth found herself a job in New York. America was on the brink of Civil War, a war in which Ruth's life took more twists and turns than she could ever have foreseen.

First published 1986
ISBN 0 55212803 1

The story takes place in the period between the death of Queen Victoria and the General Strike in 1926. Eleanor has reached the end of her tether. Widowed at 23, she has three children, one a small baby, no money in her purse and no food in the larder. Reluctantly, she seeks help from Dick Fletcher, a childhood friend with whom she had lost touch except that she knows he has a successful Market Garden business in the Dales village where they were both brought up and that he sells produce in several markets. Dick has not seen Eleanor since she married, and left the dale, and when she seeks him out in Akersfield Market he is shocked by her appearance. He takes her and her children back to the dales, gives Eleanor a job, and helps her gain her self-respect.

Working together, the mutual attraction they had when they were younger returns, but this is complicated by the fact that Dick is engaged to be married - in fact the date is fixed. In the end it is Eleanor who decides that she must break away, stand on her own feet, make a life for herself and her daughters - her Golden Girls as she calls them - in which Dick can have no part. This she does, but then comes the tragedy of the First World War to be lived through with all it brings, good and bad, to herself and her children. It is many years, her children are grown, before she can repay Dick Fletcher for setting her on the right road.

First published Feb 1988
ISBN 0 55213185 7

Although Madeleine Bates and Sophia Parkinson were both eighteen years old the contrast between them could not have been greater. Sophia, spoiled daughter of Helsdon's richest millowner lived a life of indulgence at Mount Royd, the Parkinson home, Madeleine worked a fourteen-hour day there as a housemaid, a victim of Sophia's spite.. But Madeleine, outwardly docile but inwardly volatile, could not to be ignored and when Leon Bonneau, son of a French wool baron, came to Mount Royd he was startled into noticing her. From that moment the lives of everyone at Mount Royd began to change.

Madeleine's story continues in The House of Bonneau

First published Dec 1988
ISBN 0 55213309 4

A sequel to Madeleine .

Madeleine has now married Leon Bonneau and her future, in spite of many problems still to be solved, seems bright. But Leon's family in France bitterly resent this girl who has taken their son and brother away from them. And over all hangs the curse made by her old enemy, Sophia, that Madeleine will never bear a son.

Then, even though the war between France and Prussia has broken out, it seems necessary for the good of their business for Leon to go to Paris, much to Madeleine's dismay. At first all goes well, but eventually he is caught up, with no hope of escape, in the Siege of Paris. It will be a long, hungry and dangerous time before he can return to Madeleine.

First published Jan 1990
ISBN 0 55213481 3

A collection of twenty-seven short stories to suit many moods. Tender, funny, nostalgic, bittersweet, intriguing, entertaining. Each one different from the rest.

First published Jan 1991
ISBN 0 55213738 3

Cara Dunning came to the remote Beckwith Farm in a Yorkshire dale as a young landgirl during the Second World War. The farm had been owned by the Hendry family since the year 1700. When she fell in love with and married Edward Hendry it was not what her family wanted for her. He was fifteen years older than Cara, a pacifist, a widower with two children, one of whom bitterly resented her new stepmother. But Cara was determined to make the marriage work, in spite of the hard life on the farm, in spite of Edward's reserved personality and the shadow of Nancy, his former wife.

Cara's greatest ally was Edward's mother. Edith Hendry was to see Cara through many tragedies and vicissitudes and through years of trying to run the sheep farm on her own until, in the end, happiness came from an unexpected source.

First published Oct 1991
ISBN 0 55213636 0

The Brogdens were one of Chalywell's most important families. You could say that old Jacob had started the antique business when he was nine years old, going round big houses and buying small items of bric-a-brac for pennies.. Brogden's was now famous for its beautiful furniture and pictures.. But the most beautiful and valuable thing in Jacob's life was his granddaughter, Lois.

When Lois fell in love with John Farrar the whole family was dismayed, for between the Brogdens and the Farrars was a deep, abiding feud. But Lois, conscious of the storm clouds of war gathering, was determined that nothing should come between herself and her beloved John. When war broke out and families were torn apart Lois's life changed irrevocably, taking her into situations and places she had never dreamed of.

First published Feb 1993
ISBN 0 55213870 3

'The Bright One', which is what Molly O'Connor calls her youngest child - even the priest says 'doesn't she light up the room when she comes into?' - is set in County Clare on the west coast of Ireland, where Breda lives with her parents. She is the youngest of six and she would much prefer, like her friend Deidre, to be an only child and have a bedroom to herself .with a wardrobe and a full-length mirror. James O'Connor takes work wherever he can find it, on the farms or, preferably on one of the fishing boats. He is partial to going to the races and backing the horses. Molly cleans at the big house. Breda, when not at school, sits on the cliff top and looks at the sea, knowing that just out of sight across the water is America where so many of her relatives went to seek a better life. One by one Breda's siblings will leave home - Kathleen to a convent, Kieran to train as a priest, the twins to the army and Moira to marriage, though Breda tells herself she will never leave Kilbally, it is the best place in the world. But circumstances change and one day she will have to do so...

First published Oct 1994
ISBN 0 55214057 0

Jake Tempest spent the first twelve years of his life living, with his mother and grandfather, on the canals. When, some years later, his mother died, she left behind a picture of a mountain. It was the only thing of hers he wanted to keep. The mountain was a real place, Whernside, in Yorkshire. When Jake heard that men were needed to work on the new Settle/Carlisle railway, building a massive viaduct, laying tracks, carving a tunnel right through the mountain itself he, along with men and their families from all parts of the land, went to take part.

Settling into the harsh new life, living in the rough conditions of the shanty towns which the workers had set up, he met the woman who gave light to his life - Beth Seymour. She was strong, brave, passionate - and also married to Will. Life for the railway builders was coarse and savage and it had its effect on Will. Beneath the shadow of the mountain, in all its seasons, the story of Jake, Beth and Will is played out to a dramatic climax.

First published Dec 1995
ISBN 0 55214400 2

When Roland Challis, an undercover spy for the Government, is sent to the University of Northwell in North Yorkshire under the guise of being a management consultant he ends up investigating more than he had bargained for. He soon becomes involved in the private world of the professor, and his secret loves, especially the beautiful Norma. Then he finds himself in the midst of a brutal murder. This book is a comedy/thriller, published by Pan Books in 1998.

First published 23 Jan 97
Not currently available

She was born plain Dora in a northern town where her future seemed all too predictable. But from her earliest childhood she had always gone after what she wanted and at eighteen she wanted freedom and a new, exciting life. So she moved to Brighton to work as a mother's help to a Member of Parliament and his wife. She glimpsed a life of luxury and wealth which she was sure could be hers if she played her cards right. Nothing, however, went as smoothly as she expected.

First published Aug 1997
ISBN 0 55214577 7

Naomi had been happily married for many years when her husband explained, kindly, that he had fallen in love with a twenty-six year old and wanted a divorce. She had to leave the comfortable home she had shared with their three children (now grown up) and move into a small flat in Bath. The change in her lifestyle almost overwhelmed her - but not quite.

Gradually she adjusts so the changes, even begins to enjoy some of them. She can do what she likes, when she likes. She can make her own friends - and if these include men friends, well, why not?. Unfortunately, her children can think of many reasons why not and Naomi has to fight for her new-found independence and persuade her family that she has moved into the springtime of a whole new life.

First published Aug 1998
ISBN 0 55214655 2

It was an unexpected legacy which brought Petra to the village of Mindon. She had been left a house there by a schoolfriend of her mother's whom she herself had never met In Mindon she was soon made welcome, particularly by the members of the Mindon Amateur Dramatic Society, (the MADS). Presided over by the formidable Ursula, they had decided to put on 'A Midsummer Night's Dream' as their next production. Because of her artistic talents Petra was put in charge of the scenery

Rivalries, squabbles, love affairs and seething resentments threatened to scupper the production, as did the fact that there was no-one suitable to play the young lover Demetrius. In the end Ursula had to order her husband to do so, though he was too old and too fat. She would take him in hand, put him on a strict diet and smarten him up generally. But Petra had more pressing things on her mind. Why had she been left such a beautiful house by a woman who was a stranger?

First published Aug 1999
ISBN 0 55214715 X

Poppy's family is gathering to celebrate her eightieth birthday party. Children, grandchildren, even a great-grandchild are converging on her Sussex home. As she prepares to welcome them her mind goes back over her life - once very different from what it is now. She has led a full life - fuller than her family realise. As they toast her on her birthday little do they realise how it might seem to them. This is a real family story with ups and downs and a lot of laughs.

First published Aug 2000
ISBN 0 55214792 3

The inhabitants of quiet, respectable, tree-lined Mulberry Lane take a great interest in their neighbours. When Number Fifteen comes on the market the unbelievable news that it is to become a place for the rehabilitation of men new out of prison causes shock waves. Some fear they will be murdered in their beds but others are ready to give a welcome to the young offenders. Evenings in the pub are now largely given over to debates on the matter. Who will win?

First published Aug 2001
ISBN 0 55214905 5

Young, attractive, a widow with a ten year-old daughter - Venus Stanton was certainly not the vicar that the traditional parish of Thurston had been expecting. She had to endure curiosity, misunderstandings and hostility. But she also found warmth and friendship from unexpected quarters.

First published in Hardback 3 April 2003
Paperback publication date 18 August 2003
ISBN 0 59305104 1 (Hardback), 0 55215051 7 (Paperback)
Also available on cassette or CD as an ISIS Audiobook read by Nicolette McKenzie.

See the News page for more about this title.

When Frances, recovering from a broken love affair, moved with her mother to lonely Beck Farm in the Yorkshire Dales, she was going into uncharted territory. Planning to open a guesthouse, she encountered only friendliness from the villagers, but there seemed to be some mystery about the previous owner of Beck Farm, Ben Thornton . What had happened to his wife - and why was she still so bitterly resented? Both the ancient and neglected house and its old but magnificent apple tree were badly in need of care and attention. As she brought them both back to life Frances was to discover the history of the house and its occupants - and at the same time to rebuild her own life.

First published in Hardback 1 April 2004
Paperback publication date 16 August 2004
ISBN 0 59305261 7 (Hardback), 0 55215141 6 (Paperback)

See the News page for more about this title.

For Venus Stanton, the attractive young vicar of Thurston, life could not be better. When she first came to this traditional parish, with its beautiful church and conservative congregation, many people found it hard to accept a woman priest. But after a tricky start, she is now accepted by most of her parishioners, although there are those who cannot and will not recognise her.

But vicars have their personal lives as well, although many people often forget this, and to the delight and surprise of the parish Venus is to marry Nigel, the doctor from the local practice. Her eleven-year old daughter Becky, after some misgivings, has accepted the idea and there is a joyous ceremony at the church, after which the happy pair set off for honeymoon in France. On their return, they try to settle down to their new life, but Venus soon finds that marriage, motherhood and her priestly duties do not always go together...

First published in Hardback 2 May 2005
Paperback publication date 5 August 2005
ISBN 0 59305393 1 (Hardback) , 0 55215230 7 (Paperback)
Also available as an ISIS Audiobook read by Hilary Neville, ISBN 1 84559265 4

Ever since the death of her beloved husband Peter, Caroline's life in Bath has not been the same. Friends, though sympathetic, have moved on, her daughter seems so far away and life just seems to be passing her by.

An impulsive moment sees her buying a dilapidated house in Brighton, a place that holds happy memories for her, and soon she is ensconced in a new life in her house by the sea. But these things are never that simple. Caroline's decision is met with outrage and incredulity from those who care about her and at times there seem to be insurmountable obstacles ahead.

Can she overcome these difficulties, find happiness in her new life and even leave a little room for love?

First published in Hardback 25 March 2008
Paperback publication date 25 September 2008
ISBN 0 59306009 1 (Hardback), 0 55215664 7 (Paperback)

All ISBNs shown are for current UK paperback editions published by Corgi, except as stated. Titles can be purchased from any good bookseller; most are still in print although availability varies. Nearly all are available on Kindle. Other ebook formats may be available.

Many titles are also available in hardback, large print or Audio Book editions. These can usually be obtained from libraries, bookshops, or Amazon; or from specialist retailers such as The Talking Book Shop, ISIS Publishing or Large Print Direct

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