The four-volume Stevenson Saga

World from Rough Stones

Published by Knopf and Hodder & Stoughton 1974


This is the first of the four-volume Stevenson Saga. It tells the story of two ambitious but poor young people who, at the very start of the Victorian Era (1839) combine their considerable talents to found a dynasty and go on to fame and fortune. When they first meet, John Stevenson is a navvy foreman working on the Summit Tunnel of the Manchester & Leeds Railway. A near-fatal accident brings young Nora Telling into his life. Her nimbleness of mind and his power of command enable them to take over the working, with John now as main contractor, and rescue it from catastrophe. The story was a sensation when it first appeared and New American Library paid almost half a million dollars for the paperback rights — a near-record for those days.


  • Scenes of which Hardy would have been proud – Gillian Reynolds on Paperback Writer
  • Was the word blackleg in use in 1839? – world-renowned philosopher A.J. Ayer on Paperback Writer
  • Rich and exciting – Washington Star
  • Zestful research and Macdonald’s mastery of the dialects and speech of all classes bring his novel noisily to life from the first to the last page – The [London] Times
  • A luxuriant, wide-ranging novel ... Malcolm Macdonald knows how to grip the reader ... you keep reading – Boston Globe
  • You can’t put it down – Chattanooga Times
  • A powerful new novel ... a successful attempt to blend fiction with authenticity. The story is rich with colourful characters, brawling, boozing. and bedding ... leaves the reader waiting impatiently for the next novel in what must be a memorable series – Yorkshire Evening Post
  • Engrossing – a book to revel in – Charleston Evening Post
  • An immense spectrum of life as the early Victorians lived it ... a marvellously told story alive with believable people – Tribune
  • He is every bit as bad as Dickens — Martin Seymour-Smith
World from Rough Stones


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The Rich Are With You Always

Published by Knopf and Hodder & Stoughton 1976


Continuing the Stevenson saga, we watch the seemingly inexorable rise to wealth and power of John and Nora Stevenson through the years of the Railway Mania and the financial crash which followed it. Though technically bankrupt and mired in debt, they have Nora's financial acumen to thank for their survival. But the strains have dire effects on their marriage, and mere wealth, they discover, is no recompense for unhappiness.


  • There is enough plot material in [this book] to do for a thousand novels: the Irish potato famine, foxhunting, blackmail, adultery, the 1848 uprising in Paris, family feuds, the Crystal Palace, the rescue of fallen women ... on and on and on. Yet somehow he has put it all together without stumbling over himself. This is certainly not a great novel but a great number of people will enjoy it — Margaret Manning, book editor of the Boston Globe 
  • The sex is sprinkled on like parmesan cheese — Peter Porter, BBC Radio4
  • For sheer storytelling it is hard to beat Malcolm Macdonald. Each separate incident is as gripping as the story as a whole [with] a scrupulous care for period detail — W.J. Nesbitt Northern Echo
  • He is every bit as bad as Dickens — Martin Seymour-Smith — The Financial Times
The Rich Are With You Always



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Sons of Fortune

Published by Knopf and Hodder & Stoughton 1978


The Stevensons are now one of the richest families in the world, but John, recalling his lowly past, wants children who obey to the letter and never put a foot wrong. But his four eldest children, Young John, Winifred, Caspar, and Abigail, have ideas of their own and the tensions threaten to pull the family apart


  • The impeccable recreation of Victorian reality makes compulsive reading – Tribune
  • One of the most enterprising historical sagas for many years – Yorkshire Post
  • Full-bodied, inventive stuff – The Guardian
  • Plum-rich ... in the best family saga tradition – Publisher's Weekly
  • Love and Conflict ... social history as a living force ... an unfolding panorama of Dickensian power – Cleveland Plain Dealer
  • Good entertainment ... highly recommended – Library Journal
  • Intense Drama .. the most achieved novel the author has written – Springfield News and Leader
  • He is every bit as bad as Dickens — Martin Seymour-Smith
Sons of Fortune original jacket



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Abigail

Published by Knopf and Hodder & Stoughton, 1979


Her life is a mid-Victorian voyage of discovery — from the moment she tricks her maid, Annie, into telling her the facts of life to the moment when she comes to realize that the same shocking secret can be a glorious and life-enhancing mystery ... to the years of her success as a writer ... to the shame of a bastard child ... to the discovery of her parents’ sordid past ... to the crowning moment when she sums it all up in an address to a packed hall of suffragists. Time and again she finds a resonance between her own experiences and Annie’s, who, dismissed without a character, is forced into prostitution — with very unvictorian results


  • Malcolm Macdonald is a skilled storyteller who gets inside of his people and uses every inch of his vast canvas in action and relationship – Los Angeles Times
  • A cracking yarn by a born storyteller – Daily Mail
  • An enthralling Victorian saga – Daily Telegraph
  • Macdonald paints a very authentic picture of the times he sets his books in. He is very good on Victorian England. Abigail is a large, comfortable read. – [Irish]Sunday Press
  • An engaging mélange of adventure, sex, money, and not-too-ponderous social themes – US Booklist
  • A well written portrait of Victorian mores – US Library Journal
  • He is a marvellous craftsman, bringing the historical background effortlessly alive, peopling the foreground with a horde of memorable characters. His sense of history and awareness of authentic detail remain flawless – Tribune
  • He is every bit as bad as Dickens — Martin Seymour-Smith
Abigail original jacket



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