Kirkwood, Gwen (Lynn Granger, Marilyn Gwendolin Kirkwood)
Kirkwood, Gwen (Lynn Granger, Marilyn Gwendolin Kirkwood)
Born in Yorkshire, England; married; husband's name Bob (a dairy farmer; died, 1994); children: three. Education: Attended agricultural college in England. Hobbies and other interests: Gardening, reading, local history, folklore.
Home—England. Agent—Dorothy Lumley, Dorian Literary Agency, Upper Thornhill, 27 Church Road, St., Marychurch, Torquay, Devon TQ1 4QV, England.
Writer and novelist. Worked on an experimental farm operated by the British Ministry of Agriculture.
Romantic Novelists Association.
Elizabeth Goudge Trophy, Romance Novelist's Association, for The Laird of Lochandee.
UNDER NAME LYNN GRANGER
The Laird of Lochvinnie, Hale (London, England), 1987.
The Wary Heart, Hale (London, England), 1987.
The Silver Link, the Silken Tie, Hale (London, England), 1988.
"FAIRLYDEN" SERIES; UNDER NAME GWEN KIRKWOOD
Fairlyden, Headline (London, England), 1991.
Mistress of Fairlyden, Headline (London, England), 1991.
The Family at Fairlyden, Headline (London, England), 1992.
Fairlyden at War, Headline (London, England), 1993.
"LOCHANDEE" SERIES; UNDER NAME GWEN KIRKWOOD
The Laird of Lochandee, Severn House (Sutton, England), 2002.
A Tangled Web, Severn House (Sutton, England), 2003.
Children of the Glens, Severn House (Sutton, England), 2004.
Home to the Glen, Severn House (Sutton, England), 2006.
Also author, as Lynn Granger, of Written on the Wind; Shattered Dreams; and Lonely Is the Valley.
NOVELS; UNDER NAME GWEN KIRKWOOD.
Secrets in the Heather, Severn House (Sutton, England), 2007.
Call of the Heather, Severn House (Sutton, England), 2007.
When the Heather Blooms, Severn House (Sutton, England), 2008.
Gwen Kirkwood is a Scottish author of historically based romance novels set in her native Scotland. She writes under her own name and with the pseudonym Lynn Granger. Educated at an agricultural college in Britain, Kirkwood spent much of her adult life living and working on a dairy farm with her husband, Bob. There, the family raised pedigree Friesian cattle and Clydesdale horses, she noted on the Gwen Kirkwood Home Page.
In the "Fairlyden" series, Kirkwood introduces a multi-generational saga of a family that struggles to survive in post-WWII Scotland. In the first novel of the series, Fairlyden, the beautiful and bright Mattie Cameron is facing not only the death of her father, but the loss of the three-generation lease her family has held on Nethertannoch, a prosperous farm. Sandy Logan, an associate of her father's, promises to take care of Mattie, deaf since birth. Logan intends to renew the lease on Nethertannoch for himself, but the lord of the land has other plans, leading to a violent confrontation and exile for Logan and Mattie. The duo ends up on a farm called Fairlyden, owned by Daniel Munro. Although he is severely afflicted with arthritis, Munro offers the couple shelter, and they work hard to repay his kindness. Soon, they learn that Daniel may soon lose Fairlyden, since, as the illegitimate son of a former Earl, he has no blood-based claim to the land. Logan and Mattie devise a plan that will keep Munro's scheming half-brother from reclaiming the farm, even though it places Mattie in a difficult situation.
Mistress of Fairlyden finds Mattie's daughter, Sarah, married to William Fairly and seated as the titular Mistress of Fairlyden. Now expecting a child, Sarah travels against her husband's wishes and has a harrowing encounter with the evil Edward Slater. Sarah blames herself when her son is born disabled, and her marriage to William begins to unravel. He abandons farming and goes into business with Sir Simon Guillyman. When Sir Simon unexpectedly dies, his beautiful widow seems to have plans for the nearby William.
In The Family at Fairlyden, Sarah takes in a motherless little girl named Beth. Pretty and sweet-natured, Beth is disliked by Sarah's daughter Sadie, who torments the child and makes her life difficult. Over the years, Beth and Sarah's son Logan develop a deep and loving relationship, but the possibility of World War I looming in Europe threatens to tear them apart and devastate the entire family at Fairlyden. Fairlyden at War, set in the 1930s, depicts Scotland in a time of economic difficulty. Fairlyden remains successful, however, in large part due to Logan Fairly's cunning and thrift. Conflict arises when James MacFarland, who has lived at Fairlyden for some twenty-three years, decides to live with his great-uncle at Nithanvale, a rival farm. When World War II erupts, Logan's daughter finds her household duties eclipsed by the arrival of war-displaced evacuees at the Fairlyden farm.
The "Lochandee" series begins with The Laird of Lochandee. When protagonist Rachel O'Brian is orphaned at the age of sixteen, she moves into the home of one of her father's old friends. Though she is welcomed by younger members of the Maxwell family, she is instantly hated by the matriarch, Gertrude Maxwell. Soon, Rachel and Ross Maxwell develop a deep romance. When Ross disappears, she is put out of the Maxwell house and finds herself pregnant with Ross's child. She struggles to overcome the burden of family secrets and find Ross again, and when she does, their mutual love for each other and dedication to the land helps them build a successful life at Lochandee. For the next twenty years, they struggle against the weather, poverty, hoof-and-mouth disease, the death of a child, and other serious problems, but emerge stronger and more dedicated to each other for their travails. Booklist reviewer Shelley Mosley remarked that Kirkwood's story of an "unlucky Scottish couple will interest fans of soap operas, miniseries, and sagas" of family struggle and resolve.
A Tangled Web rejoins Rachel and Ross, gradually growing older as the younger generation returns from service in the war and old-time farming is giving way to new ideas and advances in agriculture. The resurfacing of an old family secret threatens the stability of life in the village and causes far-reaching complications for everyone involved. Children of the Glens, set in the 1950s, finds an aging Ross and Rachel nearing the end of their life as their children and grandchildren prosper in the fertile lands of Lochandee. The arrival of the mysterious, selfish, and ruthlessly ambitious Gerda Fritz-Allen captures the attention of the Rachel and Ross's youngest son, Ewan, and threatens devastating changes for the entire Maxwell family. Home to the Glen establishes a new generation at the Maxwell family farm, Wester Rullion, as Paul Maxwell and his cousin Ryan become determined to rebuild the magnificent cattle herds that once graced the land and to restore the farm to its past glory. Soon, new loves and old abandonments threaten the cooperation and success of the next generation of Lochandee farmers.
Kirkwood told CA: "You ask what got me interested in writing. I think I was always a scribbler and also an avid reader. As a child I read adventure stories so I tried to write them. Later I graduated to the writers Charles Dickens and William Shakespeare at school, and then to more general romances and mysteries as a young mother. When I saw a competition in a women's magazine for a first chapter and synopsis of a romantic story, I entered it. I did not win, but I shall be eternally grateful to the editor for encouraging me to finish the story and send it to the publisher Robert Hale. After four short novels I wanted to write a longer novel and I attempted my first saga.
"My work is influenced by my farming background. When I began the farming sagas, farmers were very unpopular in Britain; they had become more affluent after the war when the government realized how important it was to have a reliable food supply. I wanted to write a good story with believable characters, but I think subconsciously I wanted readers to understand the history, hardships, and sacrifices which had gone before and the continuing work which was required even in modern farming. While reading synopses of my books I wonder if I included too many sad events, even though they are a part of real life. My novel When the Heather Blooms is a little lighter. It is the third book in my ‘Heather’ series and I hope readers will enjoy the warmth of the characters as well as the Scottish farming background.
"When writing as Lynn Granger, my stories are shorter, lighter and more romantic.
"The invention of the computer has been like a magic tool. I first began with a small portable typewriter, but I was never a typist, so the word processor has proved invaluable. When writing we work alone, but the Internet has made the world a smaller, more accessible place, and I have made many friends there, both readers and other writers. I am a member of the Romantic Novelists Association and of a Scottish writers group, and the encouragement and support which these writers give to each other and to me is amazing."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, January 1, 2003, Shelley Mosley, review of The Laird of Lochandee, p. 858; October 1, 2003, Shelley Mosley, review of A Tangled Web, p. 306; November 1, 2004, Shelley Mosley, review of Children of the Glens, p. 464; February 1, 2006, Shelley Mosley, review of Home to the Glen, p. 29; March 15, 2007, Lynne Welch, review of Secrets in the Heather, p. 25; November 15, 2007, Lynne Welch, review of Call of the Heather, p. 18.
Gwen Kirkwood Home Page,http://gwenkirkwood.co.uk (January 8, 2008).