Ashfield, Christian Marion 1946–2002
Ashfield, Christian Marion 1946–2002
(Christine Marion Fraser)
PERSONAL: Born March 24, 1946, in Glasgow, Scotland; died, November 22, 2002; married Kenneth Cameron Ashfield (an artist), 1964; children: one daughter.
MEMBER: Society of Authors.
"RHANNA" NOVELS; AS CHRISTINE MARION FRASER
Rhanna, Blond and Briggs (London, England), 1978, reprinted, Coronet (London, England), 2000.
Rhanna at War, Blond and Briggs (London, England), 1980, reprinted, Coronet (London, England), 2000.
Children of Rhanna, Fontana (London, England), 1983, reprinted, Coronet (London, England), 2000.
Return to Rhanna, Fontana (London, England), 1984, reprinted, Coronet (London, England), 2001.
Song of Rhanna, Fontana (London, England), 1985, reprinted, Coronet (London, England), 2001.
Storm over Rhanna, Collins (London, England), 1988.
Stranger on Rhanna, HarperCollins (London, England), 1992.
A Rhanna Mystery, HarperCollins (London, England), 1996.
"KING" NOVELS; AS CHRISTINE MARION FRASER
King's Croft, Collins (London, England), 1986.
King's Acre, Collins (London, England), 1987.
King's Exile, Collins (London, England), 1989.
King's Close, Collins (London, England), 1991.
King's Farewell, Collins (London, England), 1993.
"NOBLE" NOVELS; AS CHRISTINE MARION FRASER
Noble Beginnings, HarperCollins (London, England), 1994.
Noble Deeds, HarperCollins (London, England), 1995.
Noble Seed, HarperCollins (London, England), 1997.
"KINVARA" NOVELS; AS CHRISTINE MARION FRASER
Kinvara, Hodder and Stoughton (London, England), 1998.
Kinvara Wives, Hodder and Stoughton (London, England), 1999.
Kinvara Summer, Hodder and Stoughton (London, England), 2000.
Kinvara Affairs, Hodder and Stoughton (London, England), 2001.
OTHER NOVELS; AS CHRISTINE MARION FRASER
Beyond the Rainbow (for children), Lions (London, England), 1994.
Ullin Macbeth, Severn House (Sutton, England), 1996.
Wild Is the Day, Severn House (Sutton, England), 1997.
The Poppy Field, Severn House (Sutton, England), 1997.
Out of the Past, Severn House (Sutton, England), 1997.
AUTOBIOGRAPHY; AS CHRISTINE MARION FRASER
Blue above the Chimneys, Hutchinson (London, England), 1980.
Roses 'round the Door, Fontana (London, England), 1986.
Green Are My Mountains, Fontana (London, England), 1990.
SIDELIGHTS: Christian Marion Ashfield, who published under the pseudonym Christine Marion Fraser, wrote several popular sagas about troubled families before her death in 2002. These series, which include the "Rhanna," "King," "Noble," and "Kinvara" novels, are set in her native Scotland and the islands that surround it. All take place in the recent past, from the years just before World War I through the present, and, as a Twentieth-Century Romance and Historical Writers contributor concluded about the "Rhanna" and "King" series, they combine "a pleasing blend of drama and domestic scenes, a variety of settings, and a wide-range of characters"into "well-written and enjoyable family stories."
Ashfield's success as an author is remarkable in part because of the personal challenges she had to overcome to achieve it. As a ten year old she was diagnosed with a rare musculoskeletal disease that forced her to leave school, and two years later the girl was wheelchair-bound. Ultimately, she married and had a daughter. Ashfield had always loved writing fiction for her own enjoyment as a child, and even more so after she became ill, but her husband encouraged her to write her autobiography. This book, Blue above the Chimneys, was not accepted by publishers at first, but Ashfield continued to write stories for fun. She submitted another of her stories, Rhanna, to publishers, and "was most surprised when Blond and Briggs accepted it for publication with a request for more in the series," she once commented in Twentieth-Century Romance and Historical Writers.
The "Rhanna" series, which eventually grew to eight novels, center on the McKenzie family, inhabitants of the island Rhanna in the Hebrides, located off the northwest coast of Scotland. Rhanna centers on the family's patriarch, Fergus McKenzie. In 1923 Fergus loses his first wife, Helen, in childbirth, and in the emotional aftermath he loses the friendship of Helen's doctor, Lachlan McLachlan, as well. His daughter Shona's teacher, Kirsteen, eventually begins to breach the walls Fergus has put up around his heart, but their budding romantic relationship does not go smoothly. As the years go by Shona begins her own romantic entanglement with Niall McLachlan, the son of Dr. McLachlan.
Shona and Niall take center stage in the next book in the series, Rhanna at War, set during World War II, while the third volume, Children of Rhanna, is about the lives of Fergus and Kirsteen's twin boys Lewis and Lorn. Shona and Niall's homecoming, with their daughter Ellie in tow, sets off the events chronicled in Return to Rhanna.
Some of the later novels, including Storm over Rhanna and Stranger on Rhanna, focus on characters outside of the McKenzie clan, but Fergus returns to the fore in the final novel of the series, A Rhanna Mystery. This book is set in 1968, after Fergus and Kirsteen have been married for twenty years. Kirsteen has gone to Glasgow, on the Scottish mainland, for a time, but Fergus's loneliness is soon interrupted by a beautiful, strange, and tempting young woman who appears on his farm. "The appeal of these books," noted a reviewer for Scottish Radiance, "are the wonderful descriptions of the Hebrides and the unforgettable characters who live on Rhanna."
The "King" novels follow Evelyn Grant, the seventh daughter of a Gypsy father. The elder Grants, Jamie King and Maggie (the illegitimate daughter of the nobleman Lord Lindsay Ogilvie), settle on a farm in Aberdeenshire in the early twentieth century. This working-class family faces many of the challenges of living on a limited income, as well as the same sorts of personal problems—accidental deaths, love gone wrong, sweethearts forced to go to war—that are faced by men and women of all classes.
The "Kinvara" novels are set in a tiny village of that name, notable mostly for its lighthouse, in the 1920s and 1930s. The first book, Kinvara, traces the faltering marriage of lighthouse keeper Robbie Sutherland and his wife Hannah. Hannah is unhappy living in provincial Kinvara and devastated by the discovery that their newborn son has cerebral palsy. Into this difficult situation walks Robbie's old flame Morna Jean Sommero, who, Robbie only now learns, secretly bore his daughter. The second volume, Kinvara Wives, continues Hannah's story, while bringing in the tales of the other lighthouse keepers' wives, and Kinvara Summer focuses on the children who live in the village. Kinvara Summer is "delightful," Sharma Krauskopf wrote on the Scottish Radiance Web site; in her review of Kinvara Krauskopf also proclaimed that book "great."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Twentieth-Century Romance and Historical Writers, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 1994.
Scottish Radiance Web site, http://www.scottishradiance.com/ (May 26, 2005), Sharma Krauskopf, reviews of Kinvara, Kinvara Summer, and Kinvara Wives; review of A Rhanna Mystery.