Stone Cradle

Stone Cradle

First published by Simon & Schuster UK in 2006.
German edition published by C.Bertelsmann in 2008.

‘Elijah Smith was born in the graveyard of the church at Werrington, a village in the Soke of Peterborough. I can tell you this for certain, as I am his mother and so was there at the time.’

So begins the story of Clementina Smith, a young girl when she gives birth to her illegitimate son, Elijah. Others have been put out on the highroad for less, but Clementina’s Dei and Dadus stick by her and Elijah grows up greatly loved by his small but tight-knit family. But then he meets a non-Romany girl…

‘Captivating and beautifully written’
The Mirror (four-starred review)

‘With the utmost delicacy, Doughty interweaves their points of view and teases out their secrets until it is impossible not to sympathise with both. Stone Cradle provides a fascinating insight into a neglected corner of English social history, but what’s most impressive is the way this meticulous research comes roaring to life in a timeless story of two women who hate each other with a passion bordering on love.’
Time Out (Book of the Week, five-starred review)

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‘Doughty’s novel convincingly brings to life the complexities of life for a family of travellers. She uses the occasional word of English Romanes to bring colour to the language of her characters, and while this could have jarred, it achieves the opposite effect of adding intrigue and authenticity. Doughty based much of the story upon events from her own family history. a gripping, harrowing and moving saga.’
Scotland on Sunday

‘[Stone Cradle] is a novel so readable and a story so engrossing that readers will likely take in this story of several generations of one family in one sitting. Doughty’s writing has a wonderful sense of purpose that is reflected in the structure and pace of her narrative. She firmly guides the reader along what is almost immediately evident in Stone Cradle is Doughty’s talent and skill as a storyteller. She weaves a family tale of some complexity, getting deep into the very different characters of Clementina and Rosie and detailing with great insight their thoughts, feelings and reactions to each other when they do eventually come into one another’s lives. Stone Cradle also tells, very tenderly, of the gradual changes that have made the travellers’ way of life almost unrecognisable in modern times.’
The Sunday Tribune

‘An evocative novel that paints a vivid portrait of three generations of a family and the ties that bind them.’
Red

‘A rich portrait of a Romany family in 19th century Britain… a marvellously comic story of clashing cultures and women… this is a story laced with humour and a sense of wonder of small things. In the end, this warm, wry, wonderfully engaging novel is as much abut the familiar fictional territory of motherhood as it is about the challenges of living with another race.’
New Statesman

‘Stone Cradle takes the form of a popular saga; its style, always crystal-clear and occasionally elegant, is well suited to the oridnary people it so warmly brings to life in a story that covers birth, childhood, romance, elopement, marriage, death, war, social change over three generations and collective memory. Doughty gives a good idea how Gypsises see the world.’
Times Literary Supplement

‘Gradually, over the years, these two warring queens come to a kind of understanding, movingly and subtly described… a beautifully written family saga studded with Romany words and customs.’
The Times

‘Doughty’s evocative writing conjures up a lost world, where people lived by Romany lore and the rule of the seasons. The mud and cold, the endless insecurity of a travelling life, and society’s hostility to them are vividly portrayed. It’s a compulsively readable story, both informative and moving.’
The Daily Mail

Louise Doughty - writer