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The Cornish Woman is set before, during and after the Great War. Rosena Bray is a beautiful, impetuous heroine and fate hurls her between the three men in her life with evry manner of complication.
Orphaned by shipwreck in 1890 and unaware of her true parents, Rosena Bray is brought up by Cornish fisher-folk. As a child she witnesses a fairground incident that will haunt her for the rest of her life. By the time she is in her twenties, the Great War is raging and she works at a convalescent home for wounded soldiers. Here she falls in love with the enigmatic, pious Welshman Gareth Williams, to whom she surrenders her virginity in the belief that he will marry her. But the War intervenes and Rosena finds herself trapped in a whirlpool of murder and duplicity.
Tilly the midwife pondered, then said, ‘Keep the girl. Everybody’ll believe she died with the rest of ’em in the storm.’
John Bray gasped with shock. Tilly Triggs! That’d be kidnappin’.’
The midwife placed her hands on her formidable hips, her eyes boring into him like bullets. ‘lf ‘ee takes that baby away now, it’ll kill your wife!’
John Bray gazed across at Emma, resting peacefully in her bed, her face relaxed, the baby gurgling gently, snuggled safely against her.
In a voice that reminded him of the temptress Eve, Tilly whispered: ‘Nobody’ll be any the wiser, ‘cept the three of us.’ Then in a firmer tone she asked, ‘What were you goin’ to call your own daughter if she’d lived? Had ‘ee decided on a name?’
John Bray ran a troubled hand through his wet hair. 'Emma wanted to call it Rosena, after her mother.’
‘Then call this baby Rosena,’ Tilly said, ‘nobody’ll know it’s not your own child.’
John Bray swallowed hard, gazed down at his wife and the baby in her arms. At last he gave his head a slow nod. ‘Very well. We shall call the baby Rosena.’
Tilly Triggs smiled with satisfaction. ‘Rosena ... ‘Tis a pretty name,’ and then dropping her voice, she added: ‘Rosena Bray.’