Bestselling author visits Rye

Lesley Pearse
Lesley Pearse

A bestselling author was inspired to include Rye in her latest novel after many happy childhood visits to the town.

Lesley Pearse, whose father was born in Rye, has recently finished her 23rd story, Without a Trace.

The book went straight to No. 3 in the Sunday Times Bestseller list when it came out in hardback in May. The paperback version hits the bookshelves next Thursday (August 13).

Set in the 1950s, Without A Trace tells the story of Molly, who discovers to her horror on the day of the Coronation that her friend Cassie has been murdered and her six-year-old daughter has disappeared without a trace.

With the police unable or unwilling to look into it, Molly decides to leave the small Somerset village she grew up in and move to London to solve the crime herself.

In the story, her search takes her to Rye, where Lesley’s father lived, and where the author spent many happy childhood summers.

The George Hotel in the High Street, is featured in the book, as well as other Rye landmarks.

The Observer caught up with Lesley this week to ask about her latest publication.

She said the idea behind Without a Trace came from a ‘flight of fantasy’ while reflecting on Coronation Day.

Lesley said: “Molly ends up working at The George and uncovers some evidence.

“All of the gripping action in this story takes place in this neck of the woods.

“I like using places I’ve been to in my books and Rye has featured in other books I’ve written.

“Some little incident that I’ve been told about or remembered myself sets me off on a tangent, which leads me to write.

“My father was born in Mermaid Street in 1904 and I always remember seeing his face light up when we came down to Rye for holidays. In those days we lived in Rochester.”

Lesley, one of the UK’s top five female authors, whose novels have sold more than 10 million copies worldwide, became a published author at the age of 49. Prior to that she worked her way through many jobs, from being a nanny in Pett at the Two Sawyers – then a country club –and a bunny girl, to gift shop owner and dressmaker.

She said: “I had many jobs before I got into writing. It never crossed my mind to write, even though I was good at English at school.

“The deciding moment that set me off to write was seeing a letter I’d written about the contents of my fridge appear as letter of the week in Women’s Own. They paid me £25.”

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