Arresting Beauty

Heather Cooper

Beachy Books



ISBN: 9781913894153


Publication date: 30 September 2023

Rights: UK & Commonwealth



‘Based on real people, this reels with romance, period atmosphere, and the spirit of a young woman who teeters between her working-class roots and bohemian high society in Victorian England.’ – Joanne Owen, Editorial Expert at LoveReading

‘…The narrative is beguilingly simple, making Mary’s rapid social progression pleasingly credible, and always engaging. The reader yearns for Mary’s success, and with some nods to Austen along the way, Cooper delivers…’ – Dominic Minghella, Writer and Producer

Based on true historical events, Arresting Beauty follows the extraordinary story of Mary Ryan, who was found begging on Putney Heath at the age of ten by the celebrated Victorian photographer Julia Margaret Cameron. Julia takes Mary into her magnificently bohemian household, to be trained as a maid and educated alongside her own sons, before becoming an assistant, muse and model for Julia in many of her pioneering photographs.

When Julia decides to move to Freshwater in the Isle of Wight, to live close to her great friend Alfred Tennyson, Mary—clever and rebellious—finds herself uncomfortably poised between two worlds—that of a servant girl in one, and in another, artistic assistant to Julia and befriending the likes of Tennyson, battling class and attitudes of the time to fulfil her own goals and perhaps even find love.

A sparkling historic romance novel based on a true-life story.

Heather Cooper

Heather Cooper grew up in a small village in northern Lancashire, and was educated at Lancaster Girls’ Grammar School and the University of Durham. She also studied at the London College of Printing, and subsequently worked at the Westerham Press, Faber & Faber, and Eel Pie Publishing.

In 1981 Heather moved to the Isle of Wight, where her son and daughter were born. While living on the Island she has worked for the National Trust, in local government, and later in the NHS.

Heather’s first novel, Stealing Roses, was published in 2019 by Allison and Busby. Stealing Roses and its sequel, A Shape in the Moonlight, have also been published in Germany by Goldmann. She contributed to A Love Letter to Europe published in 2019 by Coronet.

She now lives in Cowes with her partner.

 Author portrait © Michael Osborne