Novel explores Buxton's beauty

A BEAUTIFUL new novel set in Buxton was inspired after a London-based author fell in love with her husband's home town.

"I have been enchanted by Buxton for as long as I can remember," says novelist, Jessica Duchen. "My mum loved Derbyshire, and I discovered its magic for myself after spending time in the area with my husband.

"We visit his parents in Buxton quite frequently and over time I realised it was an ideal setting for my new book, Alicia's Gift."

The novel weaves the tale of a child prodigy whose musical talent is bound up with the elemental surroundings of her Peak District home.

The heroine's claustrophobic social life dominated by an over-protective mother is set in stark relief with the freedom and liberation she finds in the wild landscape.

Jessica says: "The story juxtaposes the beauty of Buxton with the fact that it is a really isolated spot.

"Equally, being a prodigy is a very isolating experience, so the location mirrors Alicia's internal experience of being cut off from her peers."

The novel explores the location from several different perspectives - the disenfranchised teenager who turns to biker gangs for identity and security, the challenge of maintaining the family unit under the pressure of long commutes to Manchester and the contrast between life in London and rural Derbyshire.

* Alicia's Gift is Jessica's second novel. She lives in London with her husband Tom Eisner, a violinist with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.

* Alicia's Gift by Jessica Duchen is available from Bestsellers, Bridge Street, Buxton.