Timeline – Back Story (1895-2001)

The author strongly recommends that you read the first book in the Ashmore’s Folly Trilogy, All Who Are Lost, where all these events unfold or are first mentioned. Some trilogies or series can be read out of order – this isn’t one of them. All the events in the two subsequent books build upon events that occur or are disclosed in All Who Are Lost.

As a refresher (and because the author happens to be a fan of timelines), you might want to review the summary below. All the events in Ashmore’s Folly take place in a definite time period.

Some of these events are hinted at during the first book and are more fully explained in the remainder of the trilogy. If you remember the events of All Who Are Lost, skip this.

This timeline contains the considerable back story of the characters and expands the history of the Great Lakes shipping heiress. This will come into play in the planned novella (All That Times Erases) that tells the story of Julia Tremaine and Jonathan Ashmore.

The timeline for All Who Are Lost can be found here.


Date Events
1895 Julia Tremaine, heiress to a Great Lakes shipping fortune, marries Jonathan Ashmore of Virginia and settles at Ashmore Park.
1896 Richard Francis Ashmore is born to Jonathan and Julia Ashmore.
1899 Philip James Ashmore is born to Jonathan and Julia Ashmore.
1901 Susannah Jane Ashmore is born to Jonathan and Julia Ashmore.
1896-1910 Refusing to live at Ashmore Minor, and wanting a larger house than her mother-in-law, Julia has her father’s Newport “cottage” dismantled and rebuilt in an unused area of Ashmore Park. Erected on poor soil, it begins to collapse within a few years. Julia’s fortune keeps Ashmore Park in private hands just as many other homes are opening their doors to tourism.
October 1918 All three Ashmore children are stricken with the Spanish flu. Only Richard Francis survives; Susannah and Philip are lost in the deadliest month of the epidemic.
1926 Richard Francis Ashmore marries Catherine Randolph.
1927 Philip Jonathan Ashmore is born to Richard and Catherine Ashmore.
1931 Margaret Mary O’Brien (Peggy) is born in Ireland to Patrick and Shanna O’Brien.
1932 Melissa Anna Ashmore is born to Richard and Catherine Ashmore.
1949 Melissa Ashmore dies of polio.
1950 Stricken with grief after the death of his sister, Philip Ashmore leaves medical school and joins the Air Force as a pilot.
1951 Philip Ashmore meets Irish nurse Peggy O’Brien at the Festival of Britain and marries her a few days later.
1956 Jonathan Ashmore dies. Julia reluctantly leaves Ashmore Folly to live with her son Richard and his wife Catherine at Ashmore Magna.
1951-1964 After Philip’s tour of duty in the Air Force, he brings Peggy back to his home in Virginia and returns to medical school at the UVA School of Medicine. Briefly, three generations of Ashmore couples live at Ashmore Park: Julia and Jonathan, Catherine and Richard Francis, Peggy and Philip. Philip finishes medical school and becomes a pediatrician. Peggy suffers several miscarriages.
1964 In Ireland, monk and musical conductor Dominic Abbott meets soprano Renée Dane Marlowe, Countess of Shilleen. Within two days, she leaves her husband, the ninth Earl of Shilleen, and runs off with Dominic, who abandons the priesthood.
October 2, 1964 Philip and Peggy welcome a son, Richard Patrick Ashmore. Following Ashmore tradition for the oldest son, he is named for his two grandfathers. He shares a birthday with his great-grandmother, Julia.
April 5, 1965 Renée gives birth to Diana Renée Dane-Abbott, first daughter of Dominic Abbott. Soon afterwards, she leaves Diana with Dominic and returns to her husband. Dominic engages the services of a nanny, Siobhan O’Brien, to take care of Diana and marries her a few months later after she becomes pregnant.
March 5, 1966 Siobhan leaves Dominic in Ireland and flees to her cousin Peggy’s home in Virginia. She gives birth to Dominic’s second daughter, Lucia (Lucy) Gianna Abbott, and abandons her a few weeks later. That’s the last we hear of Siobhan. Philip and Peggy raise Lucy as their own daughter and Richard’s sister.
1966-1968 Renée ricochets between Dominic and the earl. During this time, she sings Medea, her greatest role, and records an album. In early 1968, she returns to the earl.
Late 1968 Dominic takes Diana to Derryvane to win Renée back. She leaves the earl for good, taking her extensive jewelry collection with her.
September 10, 1969 Renée gives birth to her second daughter and Dominic’s third child, Francesca (Francie) Mariah Dane-Abbott.
Early 1970 Catherine Ashmore, wife of Richard Francis Ashmore, dies. Julia Tremaine Ashmore suffers a stroke and spends most of the rest of her life in her room at Ashmore Magna; although she has trouble speaking, she remains sharp and observant. To care for Philip’s aging father and even more aging grandmother, Philip moves his family to Ashmore Magna. Peggy becomes de facto mistress of Ashmore Park and takes over the care of the gardens. Now living at Ashmore Park: Julia Tremaine Ashmore, her son Richard Francis Ashmore, her grandson Philip Ashmore and his wife Peggy, and her great-grandson Richard Patrick Ashmore and his foster sister, Lucy Abbott. Now that no one is living there, Ashmore’s Folly, the ex-Newport mansion, falls into greater disrepair.
September 9, 1970 Renée gives birth to her third daughter and Dominic’s fourth child, Laura Rose Dane-Abbott.
October 2, 1970 Per the official story: Renée goes boating in Lightpost Bar Bay near Derryvane and drowns during a squall. Her body is never recovered.
October 3, 1970-1972 Due to the earl’s influence, Dominic Abbott is arrested and tried for her murder. During the two years he is remanded into custody as he waits for his trial, his three daughters by Renée – Diana, Francie, and Laura – are in foster care.
October 2, 1972 On the evening of her 100th birthday, Julia Tremaine Ashmore dies in her sleep after a family gala, secure in the knowledge that she has secured the future of Ashmore Park. The Great Lakes shipping fortune now forms the bulk of the Ashmore Park Trust.
October 1972 During Dominic’s trial, seven-year-old Diana is called as a witness in closed testimony after his barrister discovers that she saw her mother drown. Dominic is acquitted on the grounds of insufficient evidence. As he is now officially innocent, he inherits Renée’s small estate (an irrevocable trust established for her by the earl in happier times).
Early 1973 Dominic collects his children from foster care and, leaving Ireland for good, goes to Virginia to take his other daughter (Lucy) back from the Ashmores. He removes the “Dane” from his daughters’ names and gets rid of anything to do with Renée. When he takes the girls to Ashmore Park to meet their half-sister Lucy, they also meet the scion of the family, eight-year-old Richard. Diana ignores him. Toddlers Francie and Laura crush on him. Peggy refuses to give Lucy up. Philip steps in with a compromise; Lucy stays with the Ashmores, and Dominic and his other daughters settle permanently nearby.
1975 Richard Francis Ashmore dies. Philip inherits Ashmore Park, and Richard becomes heir apparent.
1975-1980 Lucy tells Diana that Richard has a crush on her. Diana tries him on for size as a boyfriend and ends up with a determined young man she can’t control. Francie seethes. Laura becomes Richard’s willing slave, carting around his model airplanes, and is taken under Peggy’s wing.
October 2, 1980 Richard turns sixteen. After confronting Dominic over his vicious treatment of Laura, he takes Diana to Ash Marine on the Eastern Shore, and they become lovers.
February – November 1983 Her senior year, Diana becomes pregnant by her college freshman boyfriend Richard after a Valentine’s Day dance. She does not tell him but instead terminates her pregnancy. After graduation, she breaks up with him, refusing to tell him why she is so upset with him. They reconcile during her freshman year at UVA. A few weeks later, Richard asks her to marry him. She doesn’t know why she accepts.
June 9, 1984 Much to the dismay of everyone, including his blushing bride, Richard Patrick Ashmore marries Diana Renée Abbott in a civil ceremony in the Ashmore Park gardens. Peggy makes sure that it is not blessed by the Church.
1984-1985 The young Ashmore marriage does not fare well after their first summer. Richard studies too much, Diana takes up with a group of musicians who introduce her to drugs, and they fight constantly. Richard takes up smoking. Diana realizes she hates having to fit into some preconceived notion of “wife.” During the summer, she skips a week of birth control pills and finds herself pregnant again. In a furious confrontation with Richard, she tells him she has already terminated the pregnancy and then tells him off. She spends several months crashing on various sofas and sleeping with various men. During a drunken evening, Dominic attempts to talk some sense into her, and things get hazy and ugly. When Diana can’t zip up her jeans, she decides to go back to Richard and stick him with paternity. Richard, cold and unreceptive, demands to know who the father is. She tells him.
April 16, 1986 Diana gives birth to Julia Mary Ashmore. Richard ends up with his name on the birth certificate despite his determination not to accept paternity. Then he falls in love with Julie and makes her the daughter of his heart. To her horror, Diana realizes that she has created her own rival.
May 1986-Christmas Week 1987 Richard starts his master’s in architecture at UVA. The next year, Diana graduates and begins teaching high school music. Lucy graduates and begins law school. At Christmas, Lucy tells Diana that she is worried about Laura, who seems feverishly bent on making money. Richard asks Laura if he can hire her to type his thesis over the Christmas break, but she gets the flu and can’t do it. Francie immediately volunteers to type it instead, despite Diana’s protests.
New Year’s Eve 1987-New Year’s Day 1988 Diana leaves for a musical gig. Richard gets smashed on a bottle of champagne and ends up making love to Francie. The next morning, Diana notices that he seems upset and withdrawn. Francie makes a comment that reminds Richard of Diana’s deceit and unfaithfulness.
Spring 1988 A week later, Richard calls Francie and offers her flying lessons. They embark on a sporadic affair. Laura, the unwilling recipient of Francie’s confidences, is so upset and hurt by his actions that even Diana notices their estrangement.
June 11, 1988 After Richard’s graduation from UVA with a M.Arch, he and Diana prepare to move back to Williamsburg. As she packs up his desk, Diana stumbles across a sexy tape that Francie sent to Richard. Livid, she tracks them to a park in Richmond, where Richard is trying to break things off gently. She smashes her fist into Francie’s face and knocks her against a tree trunk. She and Richard have a screaming fight. That evening, Francie confesses to Laura that she is pregnant. Laura tells her that she has been planning to leave and asks Francie if she wants to come along.
June 21, 1988 Dominic calls Richard and Diana to see if they know where Laura and Francie are. The girls have disappeared. It is soon discovered that they have left of their own volition, along with Renée’s jewelry collection.
July 1988 Richard and Diana move back to Williamsburg to live at Ashmore Minor. Richard starts his architectural career. Diana, bored with life as a housewife, becomes BFFs with Jack Daniels.
September 11, 1988 Francie gives birth to Margaret Mary (Meg), 12 weeks early. Meg is in NICU and barely survives. Francie, wracked with postpartum depression, can’t function. It falls to Laura to sit with the baby in the hospital and eventually bring her back to their apartment and give her a name. She watches Francie become more and more depressed and begins to fear that Francie may be a threat to Meg’s life.
December 1988-January 1989 Laura meets Cameron St. Bride while she is singing at a club in San Francisco. She marries him a month later. They start proceedings to adopt Meg.
1989-1991 Laura suffers two miscarriages and determines to keep her third pregnancy to herself until she feels certain she can go through with it. Francie works at St. Bride Investment Bank; Cam starts St. Bride Data. In Virginia, Richard and Diana’s marriage continues to deteriorate. Francie tells Laura that she and Richard plan to kill Diana so that they can be together.
August 6, 1991 Francie and Laura go to Ash Marine, Francie to kill Diana, Laura to stop her. Only one comes home.
1991-1996 Knowing that she and Cam will not have children, Laura asks to go to college. She thrives in the music department, and a professor sends a demo tape to a music producer. In 1995, Cam takes St. Bride Data public, and the St. Brides are launched into the financial stratosphere. Unknown to Laura, Cam begins to send Dominic Abbott monthly maintenance checks. In early 1996, his mother Kate St. Bride dies in a private plane crash in the Texas Panhandle; in her will, she leaves her New York and Kensington residences to Laura. Emma St. Bride is furious. Later that year, Laura’s first album is released, and two songs, “Persephone” and “Francie,” go platinum. Cat Courtney is launched on her career.
April 2001 Philip and Peggy Ashmore are killed in an auto wreck caused by a drunken driver. Diana tries to comfort Richard before the funeral; when he turns her down, she goes on a bender and is picked up for DUI.
June 2001 Richard takes Julie to London to get away from the reminders of the Ashmores’ deaths. On June 9, they walk into Leicester Square and see a poster for Cat Courtney’s concert.