Last month, Family Tree magazine invited me to write a post for their blog. I didn't want to write a spoiler, so I pondered again the whole process of research and writing.
Was it morally acceptable to dig up a story somebody had chosen not to tell?
How black was the line between fact and fancy?
Where did Isabella's story fit in the massive global commemoration of WW1?
This is how I began:
Family tradition held that my grandmother, Isabella Lane (née Stenhouse), had served as a doctor during WW1 - but she never talked about it. Even on her eightieth birthday, when she was presented with a huge tape-recorder and urged to record her memories, she still refused. The machine was untouched when she died sixteen years later, leaving me her medical instruments and a mysterious string of beads - the gift, it was rumoured, of a grateful German prisoner of war. Sometimes I would look at the collection, wondering what story it could have told, but it was forty years before I began to investigate.
You can read the rest of the article here: A String of Beads and a Family Mystery