It has become fashionable in books plays and films to tell the story backwards from the end to the beginning. Seldom does this seem justified and successful. But it certainly works in 'The Cobbold Elliston Affair' by Sandra Berry.
The author's brother found a packet of letters written in 1901 from Buenos Aires. They concerned a young English widow with five daughters all under the age of eight who had been left almost penniless. As her recently dead husband was Frederick Cobbold, she sought help from the Cobbold family, her wealthiest relations. Amazingly by today's standards perhaps, she was turned down by amongst others Felix Thornley Cobbold, one of Ipswich's greatest benefactors, who presented Christchurch Mansion to the town.
It seems that the reason for this callous treatment was that the indignant family presented a problem. Frederick's father, Arthur had "married beneath him" in fact had only married after his partner had produced ten children in a house in Wykes Bishop Street not far from Cliff House, the Cobbold family home close to their brewery.
Sandra Berry, great-niece of Frederick's youngest daughter, has explored all these complications as an engaging detective of family history. Her book is well illustrated with period photographs from Victorian times almost up to the present day, and from countries across the world where the various children settled. It is an intriguing record of the Cobbold family and of social and moral aspects of English life in which Ipswich was probably typical.
'The Cobbold Elliston Affair' is produced by No.11 Publishing: PO Box 459, New Malden, Surrey, KT3 9DH