The Schoolmaster's Daughter
Norwich. 1851
Jem Mace, aged 20, an illiterate itinerant musician, marries 16-year-old Mary Ann Barton, pregnant with the first of their four children but, although she's a schoolmaster's daughter, Mary will fail to fulfil his goal of moving up in the world.
Their son, Alfred, will rebel against Jem's hedonistic lifestyle and become a fiery fundamentalist preacher. But Jem will have no truck with religion as long as he lives.
The Pretty Parasol- Maker
London, Whitechapel. 1860
Cheating on his wife in London's bustling Whitechapel ghetto, Mace learns that his 18-year-old Jewish girlfriend, Selina Hart, is expecting his child. He is forced to choose between his love for her and his career and, by now literate, signs a document whose existence he will have cause to regret.
The Girl from the Riding School
Manchester 1864
At 16, Hannah Boorn, is in love with Mace. She is already a well- travelled circus equestrienne, though she is only half Mace's age. Her father has the money Mace needs for a joint business venture but he doesn't know that Mace is still married. A tale of bigamy and divorce ends in betrayal.
Hannah will live in America with Mace but never know about his casual infidelities in New York and San Francisco.
Adah Isaacs Menken
The Naked Lady from New Orleans
London, Islington. 1867
American actress Adah Isaacs Menken, dubbed "the world's most alluring woman", wows London, appearing in a flesh coloured body stocking and roped to a horse in the hit play 'Mazeppa'.
Adah's previous lovers have included fighter John C. Heenan, daredevil tightrope walker Blondin and novelist Alexandre Dumas but Mace is determined she will be his. Their relationship will end in tragedy but she will remain forever in Mace's memory as the epitome of femininity.
Nellie San Francisco (1877)
The Music Professor's Wife
New York 1883
Irish-born Nellie Gore Lee, vocalist with Ginnett's Circus, has left her music professor husband for Mace. Bonded by a shared love of music, they travel the world together and their marriage in Manhattan flouts Victorian convention.
Hoping to settle down in Liverpool, Nellie is delighted when her son marries Mace's daughter from a previous marriage but her dreams of domestic bliss will be shattered.
Young enough to be his granddaughter
Glasgow 1890
18-year-old Alice Caroline Stokes falls in love with Mace, 40 years her senior. Despite the warnings of her elder sister, Alice will devote her life to him and bear him five children but their relationship will end in heartbreak.
A Gentleman deals with a Low -life
Melbourne 1904
In a hotel lounge, a burly young Australian miner is shouting out lewd language in front of a group of distressed young women. When Mace, aged 73, warns him to stop, the young miner roars with laughter. Mace knocks him to the ground with one punch, gets a wrestling hold on him and marches him out of the hotel.