A Distinguished Favorite of the 2017 Independent Press Awards for Historical FictionThe Coachman
Lauren Birkacre may have been praised for being a well-behaved inmate of Bethnal Green Workhouse, but stepping into life beyond those walls became a rude awakening. She strives to overcome the obstacles of poverty and a substandard education at the workhouse's ragged school. Several strokes of good luck come her way, none of which she takes for granted, one of them securing employment at London's Home Office. She is soon chosen to conduct a census of working children to help implement the Elementary Education Act of 1870, which established England's compulsory elementary public school system. In view of England's industrial might, the numbers of illegally working children had long been omitted from previous censuses. Her companion in the effort is Gregory Stoke, a royal coachman, who is less than enthusiastic about the undertaking. Throughout their sometimes perilous expedition through three counties, Gregory is, nonetheless, irresistibly drawn to her often frustratingly complex nature.
The Coachman is Susan's third historical fiction novel. Her debut novel, The Bend in the River (2002), received critical acclaim from both reviewers and readers and was a semi-finalist in the 2005 Independent Publisher Book Awards (IPPY).
Her second book, The Widow of Port Seaton (2012), was distinguished for its moving love story and rich historical details.