World’s bestselling author sets new book in Norfolk

Danielle Steel Picture: Brigitte Lacombe

Danielle Steel Picture: Brigitte Lacombe - Credit: Brigitte Lacombe

Danielle Steel falls in love with Norfolk town (without even visiting it) and makes it the star of her latest novel

Danielle Steel's Beachamp Hall is set in Burnham Market Picture: Macmillan

Danielle Steel's Beachamp Hall is set in Burnham Market Picture: Macmillan - Credit: Macmillan

Millions of fiction fans around the globe will be cosying up with a book to enjoy a merry Norfolk Christmas, writes Rowan Mantell

The latest book by the world's bestselling living novelist, Danielle Steel, is set in beautiful Burnham Market.

Norfolk people, and generations of visitors including the Royals, have long known that the county is ideal for a cosy country Christmas.

This year millions more people will be able to share in the joy – by reading the latest novel by American writer Danielle Steel.

The 71-year-old mother-of-seven is the best selling author in the world, and the fourth bestselling fiction writer of all time, with a back catalogue of 169 books, including 145 novels.

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Her 145th novel is Beauchamp Hall, a feel-good story of adventure and friendship, set in Burnham Market.

Danielle, who divides her time between homes in Paris and California, admits she has not visited Burnham Market – but loved what she had heard about it so much that she decided it should star in her latest novel.

The plot involves an American woman who escapes a dreary job, and a boyfriend who won't commit, by tuning in to her favourite television show. Winona believes dreams were meant for other people and consoles herself by binge-watching Beauchamp Hall, a sumptuous period drama set on a great Norfolk estate in the 1920s.

When Winona is passed over for promotion and betrayed by those she loves most she makes the first impulsive decision of her conventional life – flying to England to visit Burnham Market. As she gets to know the beautiful Norfolk town, and the people who live and work there, she finds herself, far from home, feeling more and more at home.

'Burnham Market sounded lovely,' said Danielle. 'A lot of research goes into all my books. It's exciting and fun and something of an art form weaving real facts and locations with fiction, whether it be modern day/contemporary or historical. I try to use real places as much as possible, and then add some fictional points I need for the story. I wanted to find a small town with a certain look, some good restaurants, a cosy hotel, a beautiful church, a beach nearby. Burnham Market suited the story perfectly.'

Famous for her fiction focusing on strong women battling through difficulties to find love, Danielle has sold 650 million books since her first book was published in 1972. She is the most borrowed author from UK libraries with figures from Public Lending Right, which pays authors per copy of each book loaned, showing that since 1990, Danielle Steel is Britain's most borrowed author, followed by Roald Dahl, Enid Blyton and Agatha Christie.

Beauchamp Hall is published by Pan Macmillan and publicist Ellie Bailey said: 'Danielle clearly loves Burnham Market and the TV show in the book sounds remarkably like Downton Abbey, a TV series she adores.

'This has been a fantastic year for Danielle Steel, with all of her books being top 10 bestsellers, and we are thrilled to be rounding off the year with Beauchamp Hall. We think it will appeal hugely to readers, with the beautiful seasonal jacket and unique Norfolk setting making this a really special book.'

Beauchamp Hall, by Danielle Steel, is published in hardback on December 13 by Pan Macmillan for £18.99, ebook £13.99.

Five fascinating facts about Burnham Market – and reasons Danielle Steel was right to fall in love with it

Pretty Burnham Market, with its flint cottages and fine green, has become so popular with visitors that it has been nicknamed Chelsea-on-sea. It is also a favourite shopping spot for the royals when they are at Sandringham.

The international horse trials, held in Burnham Market every spring, attract entries from many of the world's leading horses and riders.

Burnham Market is the largest of the Burnham villages and was once three separate settlements – Burnham Sutton, Burnham Ulph and Burnham Westgate. It is named after the River Burn, which flows for just seven miles from South Creake to the sea.

Lord Nelson's father, Edmund, was rector of both of Burnham Market's churches. The larger, Burnham Westgate church, is renowned for its tower which has unique 16th century carvings telling the entire story of the Bible from the creation of the world to the resurrection of Christ.

Burnham's Hoste Arms is named for William Hoste, one of Nelson's sea captains. As well as the Norfolk pub, there is also a small island off Chile, named Hoste Island for the Norfolk man.

If visitors can tear themselves away from Burnham Market itself, the town is close to some of the most beautiful coast and most lavish stately homes in the country.