Thursday, 5 March 2020

New Release Spotlight & Guest Post: The Widow's Mite by Allie Cresswell

The Widow’s Mite by Allie Cresswell

Article for Ellesea Loves Reading
I like to read - and write - books which help me understand the world I live in and the people who surround me. To me, reading is an opportunity to walk in someone else’s shoes, to expand the canvas of my experience in order that I might connect more effectively. I didn’t know when I began The Widow’s Mite just how profound this expansion might be.
Peter Price dies suddenly, unexpectedly, in the middle of a Saturday in spring. His plans for lawn-mowing, a visit to the garden centre and the prospect of dinner in a country inn are, of course, abandoned and his widow is left to pick up the pieces of her decimated life.
This situation – poignant, though unfortunately quite mundane – offers interest enough to a writer but I wanted to give it a twist. So Peter’s Will seems to be worded in such a way that although his widow may remain in their splendid, gated mansion she is not provided with the means to maintain it. Minnie, a respectable if somewhat ineffectual woman, is faced with bereavement and poverty. How will she handle it? What resources might she discover – what resilience and cunning – to enable her to survive? Once she has spent their savings she will be destitute. But that begged a question: what does ‘destitute’ mean? What is its definition, if it has one? How little would a person have to have to qualify? What does ‘destitute’ feel like? Look like?
According to the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, more than 1.5 million people in the UK were destitute at some point in 2017, living on less than £70 a week, without essentials such as housing, food, clothing or heating. A fifth of the population of the UK, amounting to 14 million people, are living in poverty. Minnie is not alone. Destitute looks like a lady in the supermarket comparing one tin of soup with another, minutely calculating best value for money. Destitute looks like the friend who meets you for lunch but then says she is not hungry. Destitute is the man in church who wears too many layers of clothing and eats more than his fair share of biscuits after the service. Destitute walks instead of taking the car or the bus, because, ‘I do so enjoy the fresh air and exercise.’ All of a sudden my book was about wider social issues; the problem of homelessness, the exponential rise in the number of – and need for – food banks; the shortfall in social security provision.
Writing The Widow’s Mite brought the enormity of this first-world problem into the light and I admit it shocked me. I hadn’t expected it.
Nor had I expected what Minnie’s response to it might be. Dreadful as her plight is, something good arises from it. She develops a species of tenderness and special empathy, a kind of second sight which can discern the signs when someone is bravely struggling, as she is. I found this quality strangely contagious. I hope you do too.

Minnie Price married late in life. Now she is widowed. And starving.
No one suspects this respectable church-goer can barely keep body and soul together. Why would they, while she resides in the magnificent home she shared with Peter?
Her friends and neighbours are oblivious to her plight and her adult step-children have their own reasons to make things worse rather than better. But she is thrown a lifeline when an associate of her late husband arrives with news of an investment about which her step-children know nothing.
Can she release the funds before she finds herself homeless and destitute?

Fans of 'The Hoarder's Widow' will enjoy this sequel, but it reads equally well as a standalone.

Amazon UK           Amazon US 

Allie Cresswell was born in Stockport, UK and began writing fiction as soon as she could hold a pencil.
She did a BA in English Literature at Birmingham University and an MA at Queen Mary College, London.
She has been a print-buyer, a pub landlady, a book-keeper, run a B & B and a group of boutique holiday cottages. Nowadays Allie writes full time having retired from teaching literature to lifelong learners.
She has two grown-up children, two granddaughters, two grandsons and two cockapoos but just one husband – Tim. They live in Cumbria, NW England.
The Widow’s Mite is her tenth novel.