Published Jan 2010
In 1814, in an isolated farmhouse near Calais, a lonely but determined teenage girl and a broken embittered woman struggle to live with each other and with the ghosts and secrets of the past. These are no ordinary exiles: the girl is Horatia, Nelson’s only child, born in secret in 1801, and the woman is her mother, Emma Hamilton, reduced to poverty and the oblivion of drink.
As Emma relives her own past glories, Horatia remembers the precious days she spent with Nelson : who she discovered was her father only after his death at Trafalgar : and hears again the tales of his courage and heroic deeds. Through her eyes and Emma’s stories, an intimate portrait emerges of a vain, driven yet human figure, and of his passionate relationship with Emma : the vivacious, strong-minded beauty who rose from humble beginnings to marry a titled diplomat and become the toast of Europe. Yet it is the complex relationship between Horatia and the woman she believed was only her godmother that forms the heart of this poignant, elegiac novel. Moving between the idyll of Horatia’s childhood and the gloom of Emma’s last months, Nelson’s Daughter offers a vivid and beguiling vision of Nelson’s most personal legacy.