Cover Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York, will publish her first novel this August (photo: Courtesy)

Her Heart for a Compass is inspired by the Duchess' great-great aunt, though some plot points are reminiscent of more recent events

Sarah Ferguson, the Duchess of York, has signed a book deal with British publisher Mills & Boon to publish her first novel, Her Heart for a Compass, in August this year. Inspired by the life of her great-great aunt, Lady Margaret Montagu Douglas Scott, the book is described by the publisher as an "immersive historical saga" that traverses the globe—from Scotland, Ireland, and London to 19th-century New York City.

"It all started with researching my ancestry," the Duchess of York said in a statement. "Digging into the history of the Montagu-Douglas Scotts, I first came across Lady Margaret, who intrigued me because she shared one of my given names. But although her parents, the Duke and Duchess of Buccleuch were close friends with Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, I was unable to discover much about my namesake’s early life, and so was born the idea which became Her Heart for a Compass.

"With real historical events and facts to hand, my imagination took over. I invented a history for her that incorporated real people and events, including some of my other ancestors. I created a friendship between my heroine and Princess Louise, Queen Victoria’s sixth child, and I drew on many parallels from my life for Lady Margaret’s journey."

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The back cover blurb indicates that the story takes place in London in 1865, where we find our "free-spirited" protagonist, Lady Margaret Montagu Scott, fleeing "the confines of polite society, and an arranged marriage" while her family "must face the public scrutiny of their daughter's impulsive nature, and Margaret is banished from polite society."

It continues: "Finding strength amongst equally free-spirited companions, including Queen Victoria’s daughter Princess Louise, Margaret resolves to follow her heart. On a journey of self-discovery that will take her to Ireland, America, and then back to Britain, Lady Margaret must follow her internal compass and search for her place, and her own identity, in a changing society."

The Duchess famously separated from Prince Andrew in 1992, endured years of media and public ridicule, divorced the prince in 1996, and embarked on a string of adventures and careers, including a stint in America as spokesperson for Weight Watchers.

Her Heart for a Compass is out in August 2021, published by Mill & Boon in the UK and William Morrow in the United States. 

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