Carrie Turansky is the award-winning author of twenty-one inspirational novels and novellas and a winner of the Carol Award, the International Digital Award, and the HOLT Medallion. She loves traveling to England to research her Edwardian novels, including No Journey Too Far, No Ocean Too Wide, Across the Blue, and the Edwardian Brides Series. Her novels have been translated into several languages and have received starred reviews from Christianbook.com and Library Journal.
In this interview, Carrie talks with us about her latest novel, The Legacy of Longdale Manor.
FF: Can you please tell us a little bit about your new novel, The Legacy of Longdale Manor?
The Legacy of Longdale Manor is a dual-time novel set in England’s beautiful Lake District where two women, a century apart, are seeking healing, faith, and forgiveness. The contemporary story focuses on Gwen, a young art historian, who travels to Longdale Manor to appraise paintings for the owners who want to raise funds to save the crumbling manor house. The historical heroine, Charlotte, and her family suffer a tragedy and betrayal, and they travel to the Lake District hoping to find refuge with Charlotte’s grandfather at Longdale Manor. The two stories are tied together by an old photograph, the discovery of a hand-carved shepherd’s staff, and Charlotte’s one-hundred-year-old journal, which holds healing words for Gwen’s wounded heart.
FF: One of your main protagonists, Gwen, must earn her grandfather’s respect after a past mistake threatens her professional reputation. Can you tell us more about Gwen’s relationship with her grandfather?
Gwen’s grandfather is the no-nonsense owner of a prestigious London auction house. Gwen never knew her father, so she looks to her grandfather to fulfill that role and has had a difficult time winning his affection and approval. Gwen becomes an art and antique appraiser at his auction house, but when she makes a mistake and catalogs an original painting as a copy, he sends her off to the Lake District to avoid repercussions because of the error. She’s embarrassed and determined to do the next job well to regain his trust. They love each other, but both have a difficult time showing those feelings.
FF: Playing a prominent role in both timelines in the novel, what do readers need to know about Longdale Manor?
Longdale is a beautiful lakeside estate overlooking Derwentwater. The old manor house is surrounded by lush hillside gardens. Built in the 1850s, it has remained in the same family for more than one hundred and fifty years. But time has taken a toll on the house and property, and our contemporary hero and his grandmother decide they must sell many of the paintings and antiques to finance their plan to turn Longdale into a luxury hotel, while retaining private areas for the family. Longdale has many unique design elements that add to its beauty and historic importance. Gwen is determined to see those features are preserved. This causes a conflict with the owner’s grandson, but eventually they come to a compromise and find ways to save much of what is unique and beautiful about Longdale.
FF: Why did you choose to set this novel in England’s Lake District?
On my last research trip to England, I visited the Lake District and fell in love with the natural beauty and the history of the area. I enjoyed visiting artist and author Beatrix Potter’s Hill Top Farm, and the poet William Wordsworth’s home, church, and school. Christians have gathered in that area for the Keswick Convention for many years, and that also inspired me to set my novel there and include the Convention in the story. I think readers will enjoy learning more about this special area in England.
FF: One major theme that is addressed in The Legacy of Longdale Manor is the restoration of faith after betrayal—especially by a parent. How does this present itself in the book, and what advice would you give someone currently walking that same path?
Charlotte discovers a painful secret about her father after his death, and she must decide if she should tell her mother and siblings or keep that information to herself. I hope her struggle to work through this heartbreaking issue will make the story more meaningful and give readers a chance to consider how they might handle a situation like this. Charlotte is helped by several characters who offer support, friendship, and practical advice. Watching the examples of others and renewing her faith also help her find acceptance and peace. In the contemporary story, Gwen has never met her father, but an old photograph of him holding a shepherd’s staff and a notation on the back makes her believe he lives in the Lake District. When she reads Charlotte’s journal, Gwen can easily relate to Charlotte’s painful secret and her struggle to forgive her father. Charlotte’s entries inspire Gwen and give her courage to reconnect with her father and forge a relationship with him. I hope readers will find that same peace and acceptance as they relate to Charlotte’s and Gwen’s stories.
FF: You’ve written in several different genres over the course of your publishing career. What do you love about writing historical fiction compared to other genres?
I enjoy stepping back in time and learning about social customs, dress, homes, family life, and inventions, and I especially love learning how Christians lived out their faith in their time. History was not one of my favorite subjects in school because we studied a list of events and then memorized a timeline for those events. When I homeschooled my children, I learned more about individuals and their unique stories, and that brought history to life for me. Reading historical fiction aloud to my five children also stirred my interest and planted a desire to write historical fiction.
FF: Which character would you say you relate to the most—Gwen or Charlotte?
I loved stepping into the shoes of both Gwen and Charlotte as I wrote this novel. But I think I’m most like Gwen. She loves art, antiques, and beautiful old manor houses. That’s true of me as well. Both my mother and grandfather were gifted painters, and they put a paintbrush in my hand when I was five years old. My desire to have a close relationship with them motivated me to pursue art and choose that as my major in college. I still enjoy drawing and painting occasionally, but now I pour my creativity into writing, gardening, decorating my home, and arranging flowers for events.
FF: With shows like Downton Abbey on the rise, why do you think viewers/readers love to immerse themselves in England’s Edwardian era?
Downton Abbey and other British period dramas have stirred up interest about life in historic England and opened the door for many of us to write novels set there. People enjoy the beauty and glamor of the Edwardian Era as well as the customs and manners. Class differences and the upstairs-downstairs element also make it an interesting time. It’s only one hundred years ago, so it feels a bit familiar but also is far enough removed to be a bit mysterious and exciting. This will be my eighth novel set in that era and I’ve enjoyed writing each one.
FF: What lessons do you hope readers gain by picking up The Legacy of Longdale Manor?
I hope readers will be swept away to England and enjoy the family drama, romance, and inspiration in the story. I also hope they will see the importance of their faith in overcoming hurt and betrayal and be willing to do their part to bring healing and forgiveness to broken family relationships. The theme of God being our loving father, who is always there for us, is also one I hope readers will take to heart. Maybe this story will even motivate some readers to travel to England’s Lake District and see that beautiful area for themselves.
FF: Can you share what you’re working on next?
I’m busy writing my next English dual-time novel set in Victorian and contemporary London. It’s based on the history of the Foundling Hospital, which was one of the first homes in England for abandoned babies. It is also inspired by the life of Josephine Butler, a woman of deep faith, who led a movement to change laws to protect women and girls. It will include the search for a missing young girl, a mystery, and romance, as well as faith and inspiration. I’m excited to share that next story with reading friends.
The Legacy of Longdale Manor
Genres: Historical Romance
Release Date: September 26, 2023
Two women—a century apart—embark on a journey to healing, faith, forgiveness, and romance.
In 2012, art historian Gwen Morris travels to England’s Lake District to appraise the paintings and antiques of an old family friend, hoping to prove herself to her prestigious grandfather. While at Longdale Manor, she meets David Bradford–the owner’s handsome grandson—who is desperate to save the crumbling estate by turning it into a luxury hotel. When Gwen stumbles upon a one-hundred-year-old journal and an intricately carved shepherd’s staff similar to one in a photo of her parents, she’s left searching for answers.
In 1912, after her father’s death, Charlotte Harper uncovers a painful family secret she can only confess to her journal. She and her family travel to the Lake District to stay on a sheep farm, hoping eventually to find a home with Charlotte’s grandfather at Longdale Manor, but old wounds and bitter regrets make it a difficult challenge. As Charlotte grows closer to shepherd Ian Storey and rebuilds her shattered faith, she must decide whether she will ever trust in love again.
Buy The Legacy of Longdale Manor from the FF Store HERE!
Buy The Legacy of Longdale Manor from Amazon HERE!