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Set against the ever-changing backdrop of War-Time Britain, ‘Ashton Park’ blends together rich historical description, intense political tension and heart-stopping forbidden love into a page-turning page, fictional masterpiece. Lovers of historical romantic fiction will fall head-over-heels for this ‘Downton Abbey’ fiction look-a-like.
Its 1916, and as war rages across Europe Sir William and his good wife Lady Elizabeth must continue to run their household, their careers and their family. With their three sons involved in the conflict, they still have their four daughters to parent, each enthralled in enfolding romance and religious uncertainty.
Following in the slipstream of Downton Abbey’s success, the Ashton Park estate is home to the Danford family – a beautiful stately home amongst the hills of Lancashire. While the wealthy family upstairs struggle through turbulent times, the downstairs servants have their own problems. What will happen when love crosses the social barrier, defying the fabric of class and status?
A wonderful achievement, Murray Pura successfully weaves a thrilling plot in a time of political unrest which draws readers into a rollercoaster of emotions. Each set of characters have their own set of obstacles to overcome, but ultimately you’ll discover through the characters incredible journey that invaluable friendship and unwavering faith are crucial when your world begins to crumble.
Murray Pura earned his Master of Divinity degree from Acadia University in Wolfville, Nova Scotia, and his ThM degree in theology and interdisciplinary studies from Regent College in Vancouver, British Columbia. For more than 25 years, in addition to his writing, he has pastored churches in Nova Scotia, British Columbia, and Alberta. Murray’s writings have been shortlisted for the Dartmouth Book Award, the John Spencer Hill Literary Award, the Paraclete Fiction Award, and Toronto's Kobzar Literary Award.
His novels include the accliamed 'Snapshots of History series: 'The Wings of Morning', 'Face of Heaven' and 'Whispers of a New Dawn'. Murray pastors and writes in southern Alberta near the Rocky Mountains. He and his wife, Linda, have a son and a daughter.
Ashton Park by Murray Pura was published by Harvest House in January 2013 and is our 5872nd best seller. The ISBN for Ashton Park is 9780736952859.
Caption: ‘From Author Murray Pura. Comes the story of the Danforth Family.’
Narrator: Among the green hills and trees of Lancashire, only a few miles from the sea lies a beautiful and ancient estate. The year is 1916, the Church of England reigns, but an unexpected friendship leads lady Elizabeth to a small Baptist Church. Through the perils of war, family adversity and the affairs of the heart. This is Ashton Park.
Caption: ‘Ashton Park. The Danforths of Lancashire, Book 1 by Murray Pura.
“Dive into the perils of war-time Britain and the social divide in this Romantic fiction by Murray Pura. Ashton Park is the perfect read for anyone who sits down on a Sunday night to watch the historical drama that’s captured the nation – Downton Abbey.”
“With thrilling upstairs, downstairs drama, you’ll be sucked into the lives of the Danforth family and their servants affairs. You’ll read about the political unrest in Ireland, the religious unrest between denominations, the suffragette movement marching across the country and how the 1st World War affected home-land Britain.”
“Murray Pura’s fictional masterpiece is both a history book and a thrilling novel rolled into one paperback of 384 pages. Most of all, anyone who picks up this book will discover a wonderful cast of believable characters, waiting to teach you about love, life and faith.”
"tale rife with suspense and emotional twists as the large extended Danforth family encounters its share of romance, human tragedy, and skullduggery." - Publishers Weekly.
“This book is a fascinating read and surely will be a hit for every fan of Upstairs, Downstairs or Downton Abbey.” — BeckysBookAddiction.blogspot.com
"provides readers with 'Snapshots of History' at a critical point when skill begins to supersede social class distinctions ... character driven fans will enjoy this deep look at a changing Great Britain." - GenreGoRoundReviews.blogspot.co.uk, Harriet Klausner.
"A story set in a tumultuous period, with lovely and lovable characters, looking for and finding romance—this is a fabulous read!" - GoodReads.com review, Marian.
Murray Pura, accomplished Canadian author and down-to-earth pastor, begins a series of books in the luscious hills of Lancashire. A must read for all historical romance fans, ‘Ashton Park’ is soaked in imaginative descriptions, historical surroundings and forbidden love. A refreshing gasp of fiction, this book will transport you to the Danforth Family Estate, in all its beauty and drama.
The book is set against the backdrop of Great Britain battling the perils of World War 1 and politic unrest closer to home with Women’s Rights and Irish War of Independence. Sir William, a Member of Parliament and religious man, is the just and loving father of seven children – three boys fighting in the war and four daughters. Victoria (the youngest and most lovable character), begins the story riding her horse through the forest to the coast.
“The brisk ocean breeze pushed back the auburn hair from Victoria’s face, bringing its deep red color out to the light, then turning it over and bringing back its rich browns. It plucked at her forest green riding coat, her white blouse, and the green silk scarf at her throat. The scarf brought out the emerald fire in her eyes.” ... “Victoria shook her head and laughed. “Old Todd Turpin, my highway-man, you so particular about cloaks and minutes. Is that because your great-great-grandfather’s blood runs in your veins and you know where every coach is on any road at any given time?” – from the first chapter of ‘Ashton Park’.
Her youthful, playful nature is simply irresistible. You instantly connect with the MP’s daughter, with her conversational skill, keen interest in politics and charming love for her father. Oh, and the fact she’s falling in love with a servant. From the very beginning you can tell this innocent, young girl has much to learn about life, faith and love.
What excites me most is time in history. 1916 Britain was an important era where the social classes of the Victorian Era began to crumble, women marched the streets for equal rights, political unrest brewed over the Irish coast and the World united against a common enemy in the war to end all wars. Reading a fictional book in this intriguing era is both fascinating and enlightening.
“Victoria’s own eyebrows came together sharply and her emerald eyes flickered. “You yourself made a speech in the House of Commons in support of votes for women. I read it in the newspaper.” [Victoria’s father, Sir William] “I do believe in it yes, I’ve told you that before. But violence only makes the government resist your cause all the more.” “Yes, well, doing nothing ensures nothing happens, Papa.” – from the first chapter of ‘Ashton Park’.
Along with historical intrigue, Murray also mixes Church history in the gripping narrative. The household is strictly Church of England, upholding the traditions of British Christianity. Many of the servants hold their tongue as their true allegiance to the Methodist way. Whilst Lady Elizabeth is shown the revival of the Baptist movement, a revolutionary change from her rigid faith. The interplay between these denominations and how the people view each other is like reading a history book with all the boring bits chopped out.
“Catherine clenched her fists as she gripped her shawl in another icy gust. “I won’t go back. Father and Mother and the Church of England and Ashton Park will just have to get used to it. I’ve become a different person.” – Chapter 14 of ‘Ashton Park’.
Reading his book is like walking in through the back door of the manor house amidst the social drama’s of the day. Rich in historical and social tension, the knock-on effect WW1 had on the people of Britain, and forbidden romance between the social classes, I can sense lovers of Downton Abbey and historical romance will fall in love with the Danforths of Lancashire series.
‘Ashton Park’ is a book rich in history, romance and faith. So let’s take a look at the person who wrote this book, his inspiration, his reason for writing the book, and hints of the book in his new series.
HOW: MURRAY PURA’S INSPIRATION
Harvest House, an American Christian publishing group, dangled the idea of a series set in Britain and Murray took the bait hook, line and sinker. He’s visited friends in England many times over the past four years, flying over the Atlantic from his homeland of Canada.
His friends live in Blackburn, so naturally he fell in love with the North West of England – the scenic Lake District, and the rolling hills of Lancashire. And having studied British culture and politics for his Master’s Thesis on William Wilberforce, Murray was keen to write a respectful and honoring historical fiction which reflected the time. That much is obvious from his inspiring book (Vital Christianity: the Life and Spirituality of William Wilberforce) documenting Williams contribution to humanity and his spiritual example to all.
“Wilberforce did more concrete good for Britain than all his nay sayers combined and he did it without resort to violence … He fought for black and for white and he did so because it mattered to him, changing not only the face of Britain for the better, but the face of the world.” – Murray Pura, from an essay called ‘William Wilberforce and Slavery’.
WHY: MURRAY PURA’S REASON FOR WRITING THE BOOK
In a recent interview, Murray clearly explained his purpose for writing Ashton Park:
• To show the importance of family, including extended family
• To explain through believable characters that faith in God and Christ make a huge difference in the harshest storms of life
• To encourage growth which break down our prejudices and narrow-mindedness
• To promote relationship, and the vital importance to nourish them daily
WHAT’S NEXT: HINTS OF THE SEQUEL
The book isn’t even released yet, and Murray has already started the next installment
The follow-up novel to Ashton Park takes place from 1924-1931, following the Danforth family through different cultural challenges of the day. Due to be released in August 2013, the 2nd book in the series is sure to build anticipation for the intellectually fascinating historical series. Till then we can but read the 1st, learn from Murray’s intriguing novel and enjoy the wonder of fiction.
Behind the doors of the ancient and magnificent Ashton Park estate, there lurks the high drama of romance between the nobility and the household staff.
But when war (and interference from a meddlesome sister) separates Victoria Danford from Ben Whitecross – one of her father’s groomsmen – the young women assumes she’ll never see her beloved again.
Victoria’s plight is just one of the obstacles facing the seven adult children of Sir William and Lady Elizabeth Danforth. The three sons, Edward, Kipp, and Robbie, are all in uniform facing mortality daily. Victoria’s sisters – Catherine, Emma, and Libby – each face their own hurdles to happiness with the men in their lives.
Meanwhile, downstairs, Mr and Mrs Seabrooke oversee the household staff with a stern hand, sending anyone foolish enough to fall in love with a Danford on their way packing. But what can they do when it’s a Danforth who falls in love with a member of the staff?
Join the lords and ladies, servants, and household staff of Ashton Park as they face the perils of war and affairs of the heart. If you’re a fan of Downton Abbey, you’ll enjoy your visit to Ashton Park.
|Author / Artist||Murray Pura|
|Publisher||Harvest House (January 2013)|
|Number of Pages||384|
|Page last updated||31st March 2018|