HAVE you ever visited a house that seemed to hold secrets, if only they could be discovered? Have you longed to find out the true stories of people who lived there, but not known where to begin?

For Bentham author Leonie Pearce, a story from the past emerged almost by accident. After retiring from full-time teaching and theatre work, she studied creative writing and joined a local writers’ group.

“I’d been reading Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier,” she says. “I loved the way the novel begins with a dream about the house where the narrator lived. It’s very atmospheric, haunted by past events, and I wanted to see if I could write a description of a house full of secrets and stories. It was there in my imagination – the house in a crescent by the sea where my husband grew up, with his brothers and sisters and various eccentric lodgers."

She adds: “When I read out the description to the writers in our group, they were fascinated by the ‘scary’ lady who lived in the basement. Where did she come from? Why did she seem strange? Why wouldn’t she speak? I realised that she was part of our family history and someone whose story needed to be told.”

At that moment Violet, her narrator, came to life. “In her quirky, honest voice she speaks from the shadows of social isolation: ‘My life has been a journey up the steep slopes of Make Sense Mountain. I have travelled rough tracks over the 'hills of hard work' and learned to fly through valleys of 'dark days to the shingly places of the 'whispering waves.’

Leonie says: “Born in 1900, Violet loses family and friends and is treated as a social outcast. To be accepted, she creates a new identity for herself.

Her story reflects the fate of many women in the early 20th century and is sometimes heart breaking, sometimes darkly comic."

Leonie says some of the story came from her own childhood memories. while she also had to research tomato growing, the early film industry on the south coast, two world wars and a gruesome murder.

Moonlight Sonata: a Story of Life in the Shadows is available through Limestone Books in Settle, The Book Lounge in Kirkby Lonsdale, or from Amazon, in paperback at £6.99 or as an e-book at £3.99.

It is published by Settle based 2QT and the cover was designed by Charlotte Mouncey from Bentham.