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The Orphans of Mersea House

Marty Wingate

August 22, 2023

Olive Kersey is both penniless and alone at 37 – her brother and her boyfriend both died during WWII, her father not long after, and Olive spent all the years taking care of her ailing mother. Now her mother is dead and Olive has to vacate their rental. She lives in Southwold, a small town on the Suffolk coast of England and her choices are limited until her childhood friend Margery suddenly returns home. Margery has inherited a big old house, and hires Olive to run it, but the first two lodgers have secrets. Margery learns that she is the ward of an 11-year-old orphan, daughter of her first love. Olive adds little Juniper, whose legs were compromised by polio and requires braces, to her list of responsibilities in the old Mersea House. The officer in charge of placing children like Juniper begins keeping a close eye on the house, and in a small town, there are always those who want to expose secrets……

Marty Wingate began college life as a journalism major but ended up with an undergraduate degree in theater and a master’s degree in speech pathology from New Mexico State University in Las Cruces. She worked as a speech therapist in Phoenix, at a school for the deaf in El Paso, and at the Central Remedial Clinic in Dublin, Ireland before settling in the Pacific Northwest where she met her husband and worked in public schools for many years. Her husband’s job as a newspaper and freelance copyeditor drew her back into the world of words by way of horticulture. She returned to school and obtained a second master’s degree, this one in urban horticulture from the University of Washington. She then wrote garden how-to books and magazine and newspaper articles and for several years could be heard taking gardening weekly on KUOW, the local NPR station. She segued from nonfiction to fiction writing with the appearance of her first mystery, The Garden Plot, in 2014. In the past nearly-ten years, Marty has written seventeen books. This includes eight books in the Potting Shed series featuring Pru Parke, a middle-aged American gardener transplanted from Texas to England; four Birds of a Feather mysteries that follow Julia Lanchester, bird lover, who runs a tourist office in a Suffolk village; three books in the First Edition Library series; and two historical fiction standalones including Glamour Girls, about a female, Second World War Spitfire pilot. More books are on the way. A Body on the Doorstep, the first book in The London Ladies Murder Club, set in 1921, will be out January 2024. Marty prefers on-the-ground research whenever possible, so she and her husband regularly travel to England and Scotland, where she can be found tracing the steps of her characters, stopping for tea and a slice of Victoria sponge in a café, or enjoying a swift half in a pub.

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