In a very small village in Wales, a young, inexperienced girl of 15 is enraptured by a member of an itinerant acting company. Her innocence leads to her becoming pregnant.
The young actor, who is interested only in "fun for a night" promises he will write but of course never does. Felicia, the young girl must face her father who is completely unsympathetic to her plight orders her to leave to save his name and reputation. Knowing that his daughter's expulsion would lead to the knowledge of her illegitimate child, Riley, Felicia's father removes the child to a nunnery where she grows up completely ignorant of the outside world.
The story revolves around Emma, the child and her awakening to the world outside the Convent and her struggle to exert her independence.
Just after she was born, Emma Clurey had a destination. Emma Clurey’s mother, Felicia, had disgraced her family by becoming pregnant by a second rate actor whose theatrical company was making the rounds of Wales and Scotland. The celebratory 200th anniversary of (Rabbie Burns) Robert Burns death was marked by a presentation of Burns’ most famous work, Auld Lang Syne, spoken in the dialect of Burns’ time. It was indeed, the show of a lifetime for the people of all villages large and small and all were urged to enjoy this once in a lifetime presentation.
How the small acting group found itself in Delgellau, North Wales is still a mystery.
It was rumored that the director of the company had a passion for brown trout, of which Guernan Lake was famous, and so made a detour so that his appetite could be satisfied. The Director’s reasoning was abetted by the need for a rest from the larger towns for the company’s actors as well as a small rehearsal of the Burns work for the benefit of even the villages that barely counted. News of the theatre group spread from house to house as to who hadn’t heard of Robert Burns, the most famous poet produced by Scotland. So here in the hamlet of Islawr-dref, the drama group found lodgings in one of the cleaner barns while the Director could satisfy his hunger for brown trout.
The townspeople, fascinated by the theatre group that had performed in the largest of cities felt elated that they too could enjoy what the people of the larger cities had taken for granted. The actors were a fascination and the young girls in particular were drawn, despite the admonitions of their families who had heard of the carryings-on and the behavior of people connected with the theater. This, perhaps, made the actors even more fascinating for the young girls who lived through the boredom of a small village while they knew of a more exciting life that was denied them here in DIslawr-dref.
During rehearsals, the town folk were allowed to watch without paying. On one particular afternoon, the sun was settling over the Cader Indris mountain range. Split by the peaks, the sun seemed to be divided into two beams of light making the weather ideal for walking. Young actors, alone and lonely from such a long tour (there were no women actresses), entreated the young girls of the village to join them and enjoy this most unusual evening. For the lonely acting troupe, no girl was unattractive or homely and so even the plainest of the young girls was courted. Among those courted was the young 15 year old Felicia Clurey. Recently awakened to the lure of young men, she was easily led to be among the courted females. She allowed herself to be accompanied by Sean Macduff, young thespian learning his profession on this tour. Sean was likable enough and his reddish hair was not unusual for a Scotsman but what was unusual for Felicia was that Sean knew about so many of the places she had only heard about. He told her about the big cites and how the market were filled with people where you could get exotic fruits like bananas and oranges. Everywhere there were places to buy all types of fabrics from the homespun wools to linens and even silks. There were eating places where you could feast on a joint of mutton, pork or beef. And of course there was Haggis to be had. This delicious Scotch meal made from a sheep’s stomach and filled with cut up liver, heart, tongue, sheep lung, onions, and oats and is served on Burns’ Night to celebrate the poet. “Do you make Haggis here in Islawr-dref, “ Sean asked?”
“No” answered Felicia, It would be too costly to slaughter a sheep or a lamb.”