#GuestPost by Vivien Freeman #author of The Testing of Rose Alleyn #HistoricalFiction @rararesources

It’s my pleasure to welcome Vivien Freeman with a guest post for the blog tour organised by Rachel’s Random Resources.

The Testing of Rose Alleyn

Poetic Description by Vivien Freeman

From childhood on, I have always been a reader of poetry as well as of fiction.

Looking back at novels which I have found particularly good at conveying lives and times unfamiliar to me, and drawing me into them, I often see that they have descriptive passages which work on the reader in the same ways as poetry. By this I mean they make the scene in question so vivid that the reader can hardly help feeling right there with the characters, sharing the moment with them.  That is what we want of a novel, and it is something poetry – or unobtrusively poetic prose – can do so well.  

Most of The Testing of Rose Alleyn is set in the market town of Widdock in the year 1900, but there is an interlude in which we follow sixteen-year-old Rose on a summer holiday back in her home village of Markly.  To understand Rose, the reader needs to see her against the rural and family background which moulded her.  I took especial care to make the depictions of her family home, with its well-tended cottage garden, and of the neighbouring fields, where traditional farming methods and country customs linger on, particularly evocative.  I hope that whether they recognise the language as poetic or not, readers will come under its spell.  Plot concerns and tensions run through these episodes, so I am confident that this part of the novel is as much of a page-turner as the whole book is.  

An incident I particularly enjoyed writing about is one in which Rose wakes early after a thunderstorm in the night, during an oppressive heatwave. Rose gets up at dawn and goes outside in her nightdress.  ‘I ease back the bolts and open the front door without making a sound.  Sweet, rain-fresh air greets me.  I take a deep breath to fill my lungs.  I can smell the wet leaves, spicy and pungent, of Mother’s geraniums… the scents of lavender, rose, wet grass and earth…  Damp grass caresses my bare feet.’  In the field next to the cottage stand two horses.  Iolo, the Welsh cob, ‘looks at me and a thought passes between us.’  Rose fetches Iolo’s bridle, mounts him and they set off.  When the ride gathers pace, the sentences are informed by an underlying pulse to convey the rhythm of cantering.  After making this happen instinctively, I recognised the ghostly presence of a poetic metre.  I hope that readers will respond to the resulting effect without noticing it. 

Poetry and the plot work together in another way.  Despite coming from a humble background with a kindly father, a skilled craftsman who has never learned to read, Rose has followed her late mother’s example and encouragement in developing a love of reading.  When fate throws the chance to work in a bookshop her way she is well fitted to take it.  Here, she continues to discover more about books from her employer, the dashing Leonard Pritchard, who is himself a poet.  His own poems, and others by well-known poets of the late nineteenth century, figure crucially in their developing relationship.  Some of the poetry readings and discussions the two of them share are turning points in that relationship, where the heightened emotions of undeclared love, and those of the most intense lyric poetry, seem to amplify each other. 

Thanks so much for this, Vivien.


The Testing CoverEngland in the year 1900. A vibrant young woman must take control of her destiny.
Vivien Freeman’s atmospheric novel brings late Victorian England hauntingly to life in the mind of the reader. In this beautifully written romance, we explore the choices facing an independent-minded woman at a time when women struggled for self-determination.

Purchase Links ~ Amazon UK ebook / Amazon UK / Waterstones


The Testing Vivien PicVivien Freeman grew up in North London and graduated in Art History from the University of East Anglia before settling in Ware, Hertfordshire. A published poet as well as a novelist, she taught Creative Writing for many years and has an M.A. in Scriptwriting from Salford University. She now lives in rural Wales in the Vale of Glamorgan with her husband, the poet, John Freeman.


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