Sarah Ferguson believes people will see the parallels between herself and her lead character in her debut adult novel.
The Duchess of York debut novel, Her Heart for a Compass, is a fictional account of her great-great-aunt, Lady Margaret Montagu Douglas-Scott.
Sarah drew upon her own life experiences as well as researched her ancestry in order to write the book, which is being published by Mills & Boon today.
And she believes readers will see the many similarities between herself and Lady Margaret while reading it.
She said: "It is a dream come true for me to be a first-time novelist at the age of 61.
"Lockdown gave me the time and space to tell a story that I have wanted to write for 15 years.
"I think people will see the parallels between me and my heroine Lady Margaret – she’s a redhead, she’s strong willed and she’s led by her heart. She attracts the attention of the press and she makes a career in writing.
"But ultimately, this is a work of fiction and not an autobiography."
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Sarah has written Her Heart for a Compass with co-author Marguerite Kaye and it is described as a "story of duty, family, love, and a woman’s yearning for freedom and independence in a strict, controlling society."
It promises to sweep the reader "from the drawing rooms of Victoria’s court and the grand country houses of Scotland and Ireland, to the slums of London and the mercantile bustle of 1870’s New York" in the wake of Prince Albert's death.
Sarah explained: "It’s a coming of age story charting the journey of a strong woman who strains against the confines of 1860s society, when women were so controlled. I think the challenges Margaret faces will resonate with today’s readers."
Meanwhile, she's also revealed that the idea for the novel came to her after she was approached to appear on hit BBC show Who Do You Think You Are?
She said: "I didn’t end up going ahead with that, but it started me off on a quest to look into the strong, creative Scottish and Irish women in my lineage. I became particularly fascinated with my great-great-aunt, Lady Margaret Montagu Douglas Scott, and the story grew from there.
"What struck me was how small a mark Margaret had made on the history of such an influential family – I could find out almost nothing about her. What kind of person was she? Why had she married so relatively late? She was more or less a blank canvas.
"With real historical events and facts to hand, my imagination took over. I invented a history for her that incorporated real people and events. I was determined to bring her to life and to show that researching and telling the stories of strong women in history of vital importance.
"The main message I would like readers to take away from Margaret’s story is that no matter whether you make mistakes or get it all wrong, you keep going and fight for what you believe is your truth. You have to lead with your heart.
"Personally, I feel more robust, authentic, confident in myself and who I am and where I'm going than ever, and that feeling is very much reflected at the end of Margaret’s journey in Her Heart for a Compass."
But despite her debut book being in the bag, Sarah is not stopping there. She has teamed up with Marguerite again to write a second book for Mills & Boon.
She added: "I really feel this book marks a new phase of my life and a whole new chapter for me.
"I’m ready to embrace the opportunities and challenges of writing adult fiction and to build on what I have learned when writing Her Heart for a Compass.
"I can’t reveal too much about the new book at this point, but it will be another period drama, and will build on the world which I have created for this first book."
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