Born in the sixties to an Indian mother and an English jazz musician father, Alison McQueen grew up in London and worked in advertising for twenty-five years before retiring to write full time. Author of 7 novels her 2012 historical Indian epic, The Secret Children, was received to excellent reviews and has been translated into several languages. Her latest novel, Under The Jewelled Sky, was published by Orion in 2013 and will be published in the US early in 2014.
Alison is also the author of a bestselling series of British comedy novels written under her married name Alison Penton Harper (published by Macmillan 2005-2011) and featured on the Richard & Judy Show. The first in the series, Housewife Down, sold over 100,000 copies in a matter of weeks. In 2006, Alison was selected from a list of 500 writers to join The Writers' Circle - a one-off one-year project put together by the UK/US film industry to nuture and fast-track the UK's top 10 'rising writing talents' into screenwriting.
Alison lives in rural Northamptonshire with her husband and two daughters.
Reviews for The Secret Children
“A touching novel about the need to belong and find one’s place in the world, and a portrait of a country and a society during in a period of upheaval and change.”
The Good Book Guide
“One story from the immense historical background to these stories is told in Alison McQueen’s The Secret Children, set in Assam in 1925.”
The Independent, ‘The Guest List’ An alternative to the Booker longlist (2012)
“This is a wonderful novel. A page-turner that is gripping, sensitive and thought-provoking. Highly recommended.”
Historical Novel Society
“A vivid tale inspired by the author’s own family history.”
More about Alison....
Alison McQueen is an intrepid traveler and has appeared at events and festivals both in the UK and overseas, speaking on all manner of subjects both as a solo speaker and as a panel member. Her audiences have ranged in size from several hundred to just an intimate handful, and she has gone to visit book groups as far away as southern Mexico.
Alison has appeared on television and radio, has written articles and stories for national press, and has an easy, natural manner. Her two most recent novels tackle enormous themes: the impact of the British in India, the quest for identity and belonging, the aftermath of terrible cultural decisions. Yet she first came to the attention of publishers through her comedy writing. Her anonymous blog (2004-2011), chronicling the minutiae of small-time village life, a crumbling mouse-infested house, and the thankless saga of raising teenagers - earned cult status when it inadvertently became the number one blog site on a commercial search engine.
Alison is always delighted to connect with readers and book lovers, and will often travel to remote communities (under her own steam) just to celebrate the joys of reading and writing.
Website and social media:
Website & blog: www.alisonmcqueen.com
London 1957. In a bid to erase her past, Sophie Schofield accepts a wedding proposal from British diplomat, Lucien Grainger. When he is posted to New Delhi, into the glittering circle of ex-pat society, old wounds begin to break open as Sophie is confronted with the memory of her first love and its devastating consequences. This is not the India she fell in love with ten years before in a maharaja’s palace, the India that ripped out her heart as Partition tore the country in two.
And so begins the unravelling of an ill-fated marriage, setting in motion a chain of events that will bring her face to face with a past she tried so desperately to forget, and a future she must fight for. This is a tender story of love, loss of innocence, and the aftermath of a terrible decision no one knew how to avoid.
Assam, 1925. In the emerald hills of a tea plantation in northern India, James MacDonald , a son of the Empire, has no interest in choosing an English bride. But when he takes a beautiful young Indian woman as his concubine, little can he imagine the legacy that will resonate for generations to come.
So begins the story of Mary and Serafina. Born of two worlds, accepted by neither. Growing up beloved yet hidden away, their childhood is one of confusion and contradiction. It is only as the spectre of war descends and the turmoil of Indian independence heightens, that the girls must face the truth of their parentage and begin their search for somewhere to belong.