Monday, April 12, 2021

On tour with The Coffee Pot Book Club - The Custard Corpses by M J Porter #HistoricalFiction #HistoricalMystery #BlogTour @coloursofunison @maryanneyarde

 



I am on tour with The Coffee Pot Book Club, and today's I have the utmost pleasure in interviewing historical fiction author, M J Porter.  But before you do, let's check out M J Porter's book.


A delicious 1940s mystery.

Birmingham, England, 1943.

While the whine of the air raid sirens might no longer be rousing him from bed every night, a two-decade-old unsolved murder case will ensure that Chief Inspector Mason of Erdington Police Station is about to suffer more sleepless nights.

Young Robert McFarlane’s body was found outside the local church hall on 30th September 1923. But, his cause of death was drowning, and he’d been missing for three days before his body was found. No one was ever arrested for the crime. No answers could ever be given to the grieving family. The unsolved case has haunted Mason ever since.

But, the chance discovery of another victim, with worrying parallels, sets Mason, and his constable, O’Rourke, on a journey that will take them back over twenty-five years, the chance to finally solve the case, while all around them the uncertainty of war continues, impossible to ignore.



What inspired you to start writing?

In the very beginning, my ambition was to write historical fantasy. This was based on my love of history and heavily influenced by the writings of Katharine Kerr, Anne McCaffrey and Patricia Keneally Morrison. I read their books while I was studying at university and wanted to produce something similar, with my own spin on it. 


What was the hardest part about writing this book?

The hardest part was writing things without knowing for sure they were historically accurate. I like to be on surer footing, but I’m not an expert on the 1920s-1940s and had to allow some things to slide while researching elements that concerned me more – such as road names, places, and public transport. It was pointed out to me that I needed to be very careful when talking about trains and trams as a lot of the actual timetables and routes are still known.


Does one of the main characters hold a special place in your heart? If so, why?

Not really, no. But, I did name my main character after family members so I felt a close connection to him.


If your book was to be made into a movie, who are the celebrities that would star in it?

Cor, I’ve got no idea. Mason would need to be someone a little road weary and craggy, but with tenacity, I’m thinking like Ben Miller in Death in Paradise, and O’Rourke could be Florence from Death in Paradise as well, Josephine Jobert. Mr Owl would need to be someone quite pompous – a bit like the ‘leather-bound-pound’ man from Black Books – Rupert Vansittart. 


What do you hope your readers take away from this book?

Bizarrely, I wrote this book to shed a light on the Birds Custard adverts in the Picture Post magazine which inspired me. So, I hope people might take a look at the advertising and appreciate its bold colours and design. Or, take a look at an edition of the Picture Post. It’s a fabulous resource for the 1930s-1950s – think OK and Hello magazine. Scarily, many of the headlines won’t be so different from the ones we see today, especially concerning politics. 


Buy this Book

M J Porter



M J Porter writes historical fiction set before 1066. Usually. 

This is M J's first foray into the historical mystery genre and the, relatively recent, twentieth century. 

M J writes A LOT, you've been warned.

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Sunday, April 11, 2021

On tour with The Coffee Pot Book Club - Songbird (The Tudor Court, Book I) by Karen Heenan #BookReview #HistoricalFiction #Tudors @karen_heenan @maryanneyarde

 



Dear Readers, I am so excited to be on tour with The Coffee Pot Book Club again. You may remember my interview with Kare Heenan back in December, but today I am going to let you know what I thought of Karen's book because I was lucky enough to be given a review copy as part of this tour. But before we get to my review, let's remind ourselves about Karen's book!


She has the voice of an angel...

But one false note could send her back to her old life of poverty.

After her father sells her to Henry VIII, ten-year-old Bess builds a new life as a royal minstrel, and earns the nickname "the king's songbird." 

She comes of age in the dangerous Tudor court, where the stakes are always high, and where politics, heartbreak, and disease threaten everyone from the king to the lowliest musician.

Her world has only one constant: Tom, her first and dearest friend. But when Bess intrigues with Anne Boleyn and strains against the restrictions of life at court, will she discover that the biggest risk of all is listening to her own stubborn heart?

My Review

I had heard that Songbird was one of those rare books that if you are lucky, you may one day stumble across. When I saw that The Coffee Pot Book Club was taking on tour the novel that they had named — The Coffee Pot Book Club Book Of The Year 2020 — I knew that I could not miss out on the opportunity of reading this book.

Words cannot even begin…there are not enough adjectives in the dictionary to describe how amazing this novel is. It is consuming, engrossing, and so compelling that I stayed up half the night reading it. Hand on heart, I have never read a book like it. The author demands so much from her readers, I laughed, I cried, a cringed, I hoped, oh how I hoped that Bess would one day find the happiness she deserved. And I so hoped she would find what she was looking for with Tom. But circumstances tear them apart again and again and…Shh! I must not give away any spoilers because I don’t want to ruin this book for anyone. It is suffice to say that the story is…it’s bloody brilliant from start to finish.

This book has left a deep impression in my heart, maybe even in my soul. This is a story that I will never ever forget and it is a book that I am going to read over and over again, because that is the kind of book it is. Without a doubt, I really think that this is my all-time favourite book. I cannot see anything toppling Songbird from the number 1 position.

Buy this Book - you really must buy this book!

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Karen Heenan

Karen Heenan was born and raised in Philadelphia, PA. She fell in love with books and stories before she could read, and has wanted to write for nearly as long. After far too many years in a cubicle, she set herself free to follow her dreams—which include gardening, sewing, traveling and, of course, lots of writing.

She lives in Lansdowne, PA, not far from Philadelphia, with two cats and a very patient husband, and is always hard at work on her next book.

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Monday, April 5, 2021

On tour with The Coffee Pot Book Club, Chateau Laux by David Loux #HistoricalFiction #AuthorInterview #BlogTour @ChateauLaux @maryanneyarde

 



I am once again working with The Coffee Pot Book Club to introduce you to your next favourite read!


A young entrepreneur from a youthful Philadelphia, chances upon a French aristocrat and his family living on the edge of the frontier. Born to an unwed mother and raised by a disapproving and judgmental grandfather, he is drawn to the close-knit family. As part of his courtship of one of the patriarch’s daughters, he builds a ch√Ęteau for her, setting in motion a sequence of events he could not have anticipated.




What inspired you to start writing?

My grandmother Loux interested me in reading.  I was about seven and she stood me in front of the glass bookcase in the farmhouse living room and challenged me to pick any book, read it and report back to her.  The book I picked was Jack London’s The Call of the Wild.  At my age at the time, much of the language in the book was beyond me but I was hooked, nevertheless.  After that, I read voraciously, sometimes two books a day, and by my no doubt faulty recollection read every fiction book in the elementary school library.  With so many words going in, a few were bound to leak out, and my first foray into writing was a hop and a skip.


What was the hardest part about writing this book?

The hardest part was depicting the crime that inspired the book in the first place.  When I discovered the incident during my research into the provenance of the Laux surname, it affected me deeply.  Chateau Laux was my attempt to come to grips with it and understand how a family could live with such a thing.  I felt compelled to write about it.  But putting the incident into words was very difficult and I still react emotionally when I think about it.


Does one of the main characters hold a special place in your heart? If so, why?

All of the characters have a piece of me in them, but I would have to say that Lawrence has the most resonance.  As a child, his father was unknown and his mother struggled with failing health.  As such, he was symbolic of the new world he was born into, where European provenance was truncated and the new environment was in many ways hostile.  In his attempt to reinvent himself, he made a terrible mistake.  But he had the opportunity to play a meaningful role in shaping a new heritage, which was more than he could have expected.


If your book was to be made into a movie, who are the celebrities that would star in it?

That is a difficult question, because Pierre Laux is bigger than life to me, which is a difficult quality to capture.  Rather than think in terms of what actors would play which roles, I am more inclined to think in terms of who would best direct such an endeavour.  I hate to mention names, but without taking anything away from anyone else, the combination of Ron Howard and Tom Hanks would be compelling.


What do you hope your readers take away from this book?

My hope is that Chateau Laux engages readers across a full range of emotions, but also appeals to their reason.  We can’t always control the challenges that come our way.  But we have a measure of control over how we react to them and if we can sustain hope then all is not lost.


Buy this Book

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David Loux


David Loux is a short story writer who has published under pseudonym and served as past board member of California Poets in the Schools. Chateau Laux is his first novel. He lives in the Eastern Sierra with his wife, Lynn.

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Thursday, April 1, 2021

Meet the author - Eva Seyler #HistoricalFiction #AuthorInterview @the_eva_seyler

 




I know how much you all love meeting new authors. Today, I am having a chat with historical fiction author, Eva Seyler


France, 1916: Estelle Graham faces a nightmare. Expecting to be met by her beloved husband and their newly-adopted daughter, she instead finds him gravely injured and unconscious in a casualty clearing station. Taking solace in his journals and letters, she fights for his care-and his life.


In a farmhouse near the Somme, Captain Jamie Graham is forever changed when he meets young Aveline Perrault. Damaged by the cold, cruel world around them-made even colder by the war-the pair form an unlikely bond. Aveline finds in her capitaine the father she never had, and with her help, Graham faces the pain from his own childhood that even his loving marriage could not heal.


Discover the depth of love and faith in the face of brutality as they learn to live while surviving the Great War.





What inspired you to start writing?

I've been writing since I was about eight years old, and spent my teen years churning out melodrama galore! I kind of took a break for a bit in my early twenties, as I started having jobs and such, but in 2005 I decided to try NaNo and wrote my first "serious" novel. It took me way longer than a month to finish it, I might add - I kept working on it, on and off, until 2008 or so. I say "serious" because it was somewhat more realistic than the entertaining but far-fetched drivel I came up with as a teenager! Then I completely quit writing for a long time until I started dabbling in fanfiction in 2016 and realised how much I MISSED writing and how much I needed it.

As far as THE WAR IN OUR HEARTS, I started out 2017 reading a book called THE ZIMMERMANN TELEGRAM by Barbara Tuchman, and realised I didn't know anything about WWI. So I started reading everything I could get my hands on, nonfiction mostly, and was saddened at how little WWI has really been written about in fiction. I wanted to change that, so by late October I was beginning to write TWIOH. It was my NaNo project that year, and it was completed pretty quickly, compared to anything else I've ever written. 

I should add that the version of TWIOH coming out this year is a re-release of the original, which came out March 2019. I got the rights back last September and made some edits. The story isn't changed, but I added a few new scenes and smoothed out a lot of things that somehow hadn't gotten caught the first time around. New cover too! It's a better book, all around!


What was the hardest part about writing this book?

Finding an opening! I knew how the book would end (the ending as it stands now is not much changed from the first draft), but figuring out where to open it was HARD. Probably the second hardest thing was weaving the different timelines together so they were balanced.


Does one of the main characters hold a special place in your heart? If so, why?

Absolutely Jamie Graham. Originally the book was supposed to be entirely from Aveline's perspective, but the minute he stepped into the plot he completely took over. I feel like I channelled a lot of the musical melodrama energy from my teen novels through Jamie and made it more realistic and believable. He's an absolute cinnamon roll. The kilts don't hurt, either.


If your book was to be made into a movie, who are the celebrities that would star in it?

I honestly don't keep up a lot with current actors, so this question is always hard for me. I can tell you who my visual references are for the characters, though (some of them are, uh, Not Current). 

Estelle: Diane Kruger (from the French WWI film JOYEUX NOEL) with a touch of Veronica Lake 

Jamie: Jean-Baptiste Maunier 

George: Joel McCrea

Willie: a Very Young Douglas Fairbanks Jr

Aveline: whoever this girl is. https://www.pinterest.com/pin/AfWOY6SAD0xG2rBl95EUhQNTX8TGI4NyU3p7Tv7FZBFrq1SUJRZikbI/

MacFie: This guy. https://www.pinterest.com/pin/196610339968362985/

I should add that I have done plenty of fanart for my own book (yes, I'm that person), and you can see some of it here: https://www.evaseyler.com/index.php/books-eva-seyler/the-war-in-our-hearts/


What do you hope your readers take away from this book?

That love is greater than fear. That it's okay to be broken, and that there's hope if you are.


Buy this Book

Universal Link


Eva was born in Jacksonville, Florida. She left that humidity pit at the age of three and spent the next twenty-one years in California, Idaho, Kentucky, and Washington before ending up in Oregon, where she now lives on a homestead in the western foothills with her husband and five children, two of whom are human.

Eva cannot remember a time when she couldn't read, and has spent her life devouring books. In her early childhood years, she read and re-read The Boxcar Children, The Trumpet of the Swan, anything by Johanna Spyri or A A Milne, and any issues of National Geographic with illustrated articles about mummified, skeletonised, and otherwise no-longer-viable people.

As a teenager she was a huge fan of Louisa May Alcott and Jane Eyre.

As an adult she enjoys primarily historical fiction (adult or YA) and nonfiction on a wide range of topics, including, but not limited to, history, disaster, survival, dead people, and the reasons people become dead. Audiobooks are her jam, and the era of World War One is her historical pet.

Eva began writing stories when very young and wrote almost constantly until she was 25, after which she took a years-long break before coming back to pursue her old dream of becoming a published author for real. She loves crafting historical fiction that brings humanity to real times and events that otherwise might seem impersonal and distant, and making doodles to go with them.

When Eva is not writing, she is teaching her human children, eating chocolate, cooking or baking, wasting time on Twitter, and making weird shrieky noises every time she sees her non-human children. Also enjoys driving in snow when opportunity arises, because snow is the bomb.


Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Read an excerpt from Judith Arnopp's #NewRelease set in the court of Henry VIII #HistoricalFiction #Tudors @JudithArnopp @maryanneyarde

 


 I am once again working with The Coffee Pot Book Club to introduce you to your next favourite read! It is with great delight that I welcome one of my favourite historical fiction authors, Judith Arnopp onto The Whispering Bookworm.


A king must have sons: strong, healthy sons to rule after him.’

On the unexpected death of Arthur Tudor, Prince of Wales, his brother, Henry, becomes heir to the throne of England. The intensive education that follows offers Henry a model for future excellence; a model that he is doomed to fail.

On his accession, he chooses his brother’s widow, Catalina of Aragon, to be his queen. Together they plan to reinstate the glory of days of old and fill the royal nursery with boys. 

But when their first-born son dies at just a few months old, and subsequent babies are born dead or perish in the womb, the king’s golden dreams are tarnished.

Christendom mocks the virile prince. Catalina’s fertile years are ending yet all he has is one useless living daughter, and a baseborn son.

He needs a solution but stubborn to the end, Catalina refuses to step aside.

As their relationship founders, his eye is caught by a woman newly arrived from the French court. Her name is Anne Boleyn.

A Matter of Conscience: the Aragon Years offers a unique first-person account of the ‘monster’ we love to hate and reveals a man on the edge; an amiable man made dangerous by his own impossible expectation


Excerpt 

Autumn 1514 – Henry and Wolsey inform Mary Tudor that she is to be wed to the king of France.


“An alliance, Your Majesty,” Wolsey murmurs. “I was thinking … your sister, the Princess Mary is ripe for matrimony and now the French king has been widowed …”

I let his words sink in. Mary is almost eighteen, the flower of our court. I would prefer to keep her with us but … when Margaret was wed to the King of Scots, the king we recently killed at Flodden, Mary was adamant that she would never marry a man in his dotage. At the time of their marriage, James was no more than thirty, yet he seemed old to us who were still in the nursery. Louis is three times Mary’s age. Such a marriage will not sit easily with my sister. 

I rub my chin.

“Such an arrangement will not please her. She is likely to protest, and she never complains quietly.”

“No, Your Majesty. I thought perhaps, rather than call her before the council to break the news, you could have a quiet word.”

I give a sharp cough of scorn.

“Indeed, Thomas, and I thought I employed you to do my dirty work, not the other way around.”

He closes his eyes in acquiescence. 

“Of course, if Your Majesty prefers.”

I stand up, look from the window across the parkland, the scudding colours of autumn calling me to hunt before the winter closes in too deep.

“We will do it together, Thomas. There is strength in numbers.”

He laughs softly, and gathers his papers together, tucks them beneath his arm.

“Concentrate your mind on the dowry, Your Majesty. Two hundred thousand crowns is the figure I have in mind, plus a further fifty thousand a year.”

That will not help restore our coffers, I think. A lot to spend on top of my sister’s displeasure. I will be the double loser. She will be Queen of France, sleeping with an old man, but I will still be the one to pay the higher price.

Mary screams and rages and I am thankful Wolsey chose to relate the news in my small privy chamber. With tears of anger, she clenches her fists, stamps her foot but it serves no purpose. It cannot be helped. She is a princess of England and has her duty, just as I have mine.

For a while I let her rant. I watch her as, like a spoiled child, she snatches off her hood and kicks it across the chamber. Wolsey raises his eyebrows, steps back, his mouth fallen open, and I smile at his alarm. I have witnessed Mary’s temper since infancy. She was born angry. If I think hard, I can still recall her in swaddling bands, red faced and screaming for the wet nurse. There is nothing new or remarkable in Mary’s temper.

At length, her anger spent, she collapses exhausted into a chair, and glowers at me. Anyone would think I was committing her to a life in the stews instead of the highest honour a woman can have.

“You will be a queen …” I observe, “lavished with honour and dignity. Across Christendom, your name will be spoken in hushed tones …for ever more.”

“I care nothing for that. You know me, Henry. Titles mean nothing. I want to be happy, not lauded. The betrothal to Charles of Spain was one thing, I knew it would never happen, but this … And didn’t you promise me when you first became king that I could stay in England and take a husband of my own choosing?”

I shake my head, shrug my shoulders. I have no memory of any such promise.

“As a princess of England, you must do your …”

“Don’t!” She holds up a hand, silencing me. I could have her thrown in the Tower for such a thing, but she is my sister … my favourite sister, she always has been.

“If it were in my power …”

She turns and leans over me so threateningly I almost shrink away. The angry bones of her face harden, obliterating her beauty. My soft sister is suddenly hard and bitter. She looks like Grandmother. I grasp her wrist.

“I have no choice, Mary. It may not be so bad. Louis is old, and they say his health is …precarious, perhaps in time, you will be widowed and then you can marry where you will.”

She straightens up, her scowl scored deep, but she is at least considering the matter. Our eyes are fixed, one to the other; hers are hurt, but her rage is subsiding, overridden by dismay. I wait, my heart sick, for her response. 

She folds her arms, strides from one side of the room to the other, and back again. Finally, she halts before me.

“I will do this on one condition only.”

“Name it,” I say, relief rushing upon me. “You can have anything in my power to give.”

“Louis is growing old. As you say, he may not have long to live. I demand, in writing, that on his death, I am no longer yours to barter. Once widowed, my future is to be my own.”

She stands back, hands on hips, regarding me. It is a high price. Mary is a beauty, her blood a jewel to be traded. Her freedom will cost me much but … I have to agree. When I glance at Wolsey, he is noncommittal, staring disinterestedly into a dark corner.

I frown, my mouth droops.

“Very well.”

“In writing.”

I incline my head. “Wolsey will attend to it.”

“But you are to sign and seal it. I also expect to choose my own accompanying household.”

I incline my head again. She can have all she wants as long as the deed is done. If Louis can manage to get a child on her, a nephew on the throne of France will offer some compensation for failing to win it for myself. If he dies, I get my sister back. I win either way.


Buy this Book



Judith Arnopp



A lifelong history enthusiast and avid reader, Judith holds a BA in English/Creative writing and an MA in Medieval Studies.

She lives on the coast of West Wales where she writes both fiction and non-fiction based in the Medieval and Tudor period. Her main focus is on the perspective of historical women but more recently is writing from the perspective of Henry VIII himself.

Her novels include:

A Matter of Conscience: Henry VIII, the Aragon Years 
The Heretic Wind: the life of Mary Tudor, Queen of England
Sisters of Arden: on the Pilgrimage of Grace
The Beaufort Bride: Book one of The Beaufort Chronicle
The Beaufort Woman: Book two of The Beaufort Chronicle
The King’s Mother: Book three of The Beaufort Chronicle
The Winchester Goose: at the Court of Henry VIII
A Song of Sixpence: the story of Elizabeth of York
Intractable Heart: the story of Katheryn Parr
The Kiss of the Concubine: a story of Anne Boleyn
The Song of Heledd
The Forest Dwellers
Peaceweaver

Judith is also a founder member of a re-enactment group called The Fyne Companye of Cambria and makes historical garments both for the group and others. She is not professionally trained but through trial, error and determination has learned how to make authentic looking, if not strictly HA, clothing. You can find her group Tudor Handmaid on Facebook. You can also find her on Twitter and Instagram.

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Monday, March 29, 2021

On tour with The Coffee Pot Book Club, The Colour of Evil by Toni Mount #HistoricalFiction #Mystery #BlogTour @tonihistorian @maryanneyarde



 

I am once again working with The Coffee Pot Book Club to introduce you to your next favourite read!


Every Londoner has money worries, and talented artist and some-time sleuth, Seb Foxley, is no exception.

When fellow craftsmen with debts to pay are found dead in the most horrid circumstances, fears escalate. Only Seb can solve the puzzles that baffle the authorities.

Seb’s wayward elder brother, Jude, returns unannounced from Italy with a child-bride upon his arm. Shock turns to dismay when life becomes more complicated and troubles multiply.

From counterfeit coins to deadly darkness in London's worst corners. From mysterious thefts to attacks of murderous intent, Seb finds himself embroiled at every turn. With a royal commission to fulfil and heartache to resolve, can our hero win through against the odds? 

Share Seb Foxley’s latest adventures in the filthy streets of medieval London, join in the Midsummer festivities and meet his fellow citizens, both the respectable and the villainous.


Praise for Colour of Evil


Samantha Willcoxson, author & historian:

“Toni Mount is simply brilliant. If you love CJ Sansom’s Matthew Shardlake – and I do – you will love Toni’s Sebastian Foxley. From learning how a 15th century scrivener created illuminated manuscripts to venturing within the dank tunnels beneath the Tower of London, Toni is an artist who completely immerses the reader in another time and place and always leaves one eager for the next book.”

Stephanie Churchill, author of historical fiction and epic fantasy:

“Leave it to Seb to unravel another international spiderweb of intrigue, betrayal, murder, and deceit. Our flawed, loveable hero has done it again. And at the end of it all, his future is looking brighter than ever. I cannot wait to find out what happens to him next!”

Sharon Bennet Connoly, author and medieval historian: 

“A beautifully crafted mystery that brings the dark, dangerous streets of medieval London to life. Toni Mount is a magician with words, weaving a captivating story in wonderful prose. The Colour of Evil is, to put it simply, a pleasure to read.” 

Kathryn Warner, medieval historian and author of numerous books about the fourteenth century, including biographies of Edward II and Isabella of France: 

“The ninth instalment of Toni Mount's popular Seb Foxley series is sure to delight Seb's many fans. Mount puts her deep knowledge of late medieval England to good use once again, and takes us on another exciting adventure, this time with Seb's older brother Jude, returned from Italy, in tow. Mount's detailed world-building, as always, brings fifteenth-century London to life.” 


Excerpt


Mallard Court in Grace Church Street 
The vintner, Clement Mallard, lived in a grand place further up Grace Church Street, opposite the Leadenhall. Guy Linton’s premises had impressed me but this establishment was close kin to Crosby Place, where the Duke of Gloucester resided when in London. I recalled that it had also been built for a wealthy merchant, the grocer John Crosby. Clement Mallard could likewise afford a similar fine house, with its grand gated entrance into a paved courtyard and marble steps leading up to the great hall beyond. It was as well that I be familiar with Crosby Place, else I may have felt intimidated by Mallard Court.
I followed Guy – apparently we were upon such terms now that the use of first-names was permitted – up the steps, into the hall. I remained somewhat behind him, posing as his humble assistant. Thus was I laden like a pack-horse, carrying the offending portrait and a good deal of artist’s paraphernalia besides my own scrip. I disliked this subterfuge more with each passing minute. 
‘You’re late, Linton,’ Mallard growled by way of greeting. ‘And who’s this?’ The vintner waved his hand vaguely in my direction, frowning. ‘I don’t want anybody coming here, uninvited. You know that.’
‘Ignore him, Master Mallard. He’s only my assistant. I needed help, carrying my stuff, is all.’ Thus, Linton introduced me. ‘Set up the easel, brushes and pigments there, by the fireplace,’ he instructed me, ‘And then sit out of the way, behind my line of sight, and keep silent. Don’t disturb me at my work.’
I made no answer. The reply that sprang to mind was not of a suitably servile nature but I did as bidden. I sat just behind and to the left of Guy, such that I might view the sitter from the same angle, taking out my charcoal and cheap papers ready pinned to my drawing board in such wise as not to attract the vintner’s eye. I had commenced my first sketch afore Guy had even settled the half-painted portrait upon the easel and dipped his brush.
The subject had little to recommend it. A true likeness would not be one that any but the blind could possibly take pleasure in gazing at. I should not want it hung upon my wall. That expression would turn ale sour and set children wailing. In truth, the physical features were of common proportions – not as Guy had painted them – and naught out of the ordinary, topped by thinning grey hair. But the eyes held such malevolence as I had ne’er espied in any other. If the eyes be the windows of the soul, as we be told, then this one must surely be beyond saving, belonging to Satan already. I was hard pressed not to cross myself. Suspicious brows were drawn low over these twin pools of darkness, as though to keep their secrets hidden. Even as I drew them, I shivered. Creating their likeness chilled me. 
The skin had an unhealthy, jaundiced hue – Guy had painted that aright; it was not wholly caused by light reflecting from the golden curtains – and lay upon the bones beneath like a creased bed sheet. Every line bore the mark of ill-humour. These were not the characterful wrinkles of old age but the deep-scoured imprints of malice and spite. It was hard to gauge this sitter’s age at all but the gnarled fingers, contorted by swollen joints, suggested three score years, or thereabouts, at least. 
But, as Master Collop used to instruct: I drew what I saw; five minutes of worthwhile observation giving birth to a few lines of exactitude. In a short space, I had the sketches required of the sitter and tucked my board away in my scrip, out of sight, glad to turn my eyes to more pleasing views.
The parlour at Mallard Court was well appointed. A gilded ceiling looked to be well constructed and I noted the carving on the beams of what I first thought to be a skein of geese in flight. But no. Of course, they were ducks: mallards, a play upon the vintner’s name. The fireplace was surrounded by a carven mantle and here, too, images of ducks outnumbered all else. I had ne’er considered these birds to be evil creatures. My son loved to watch them swimming on the water of the Horse Pool and they gave me pleasure also, admiring the iridescent plumage of the drakes, their determined waddling gait upon land. Yet these ducks looked to thirst for blood. I turned away to gaze out the window. I was becoming over-fanciful, imagining such foolish things as ill-intentioned ducks.     
When Guy breathed a heavy sigh and turned to me, holding out his brushes, indicating that I – being but his lowly assistant – should clean them, the vintner pushed out of his cushioned chair.  
‘Show me the portrait,’ he demanded. ‘I have waited long enough to see your handiwork, Linton. I will see it – now!’
‘No, no, Master Mallard.’ Guy threw a cloth over the portrait, despite the likelihood that the last strokes of egg tempera were yet wet. ‘’Tis ill-luck to see it in its unfinished state.’
‘Who says so?’
‘’Tis a well-known fact, I assure you. Isn’t that right?’ Guy looked at me, his desperation clear.
‘I have heard it said,’ was all I would offer in support.
‘Next time, it will be finished, master, then you can view it as you wish. I promise you.’
Master Mallard muttered to himself, glaring at Guy.
‘Next time, then, and woebetide you, Linton, if it’s not finished. I’ve wasted enough time on this damned porterate business. I have more important matters to attend to.’ With that, he stomped out of the parlour, leaving us to clear and tidy away the materials and equipment. We had not been offered so much as a cup of water and the chamber had grown stuffy and over-warm as the afternoon sun poured through the glazed windows. In truth, with the need for subterfuge ended, I stood back and watched Guy pack up his things. Every craftsman has his own way of it, I told my conscience; better if he does it himself. Indeed, he ‘tidied’ his things much in the manner of his workshop – that is to say, in careless wise, with no thought to ensuring his brush-ends would dry in goodly shape nor securing his pigment pots to preserve the precious powders. E’en so, I helped him carry his stuff back down Grace Church Street to his house where he had manners enough to offer me ale. 


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Toni Mount

Toni Mount earned her Master’s Degree by completing original research into a unique 15th-century medical manuscript. She is the author of several successful non-fiction books including the number one bestseller, Everyday Life in Medieval England, which reflects her detailed knowledge in the lives of ordinary people in the Middle Ages. Toni’s enthusiastic understanding of the period allows her to create accurate, atmospheric settings and realistic characters for her Sebastian Foxley medieval murder mysteries. Toni’s first career was as a scientist and this brings an extra dimension to her novels. It also led to her new biography of Sir Isaac Newton. She writes regularly for both The Richard III Society and The Tudor Society and is a major contributor of online courses to MedievalCourses.com. As well as writing, Toni teaches history to adults, coordinates a creative writing group and is a member of the Crime Writers’ Association.

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Sunday, March 28, 2021

On tour with The Coffee Pot Book Club - The Bridled Tongue by Catherine Meyrick #BookReview #HistoricalFiction #BlogTour @cameyrick1 @maryanneyarde

 



Once again I am taking part in a virtual blog tour for The Coffee Pot Book Club. But before we get to my review, let's check out the blurb of today's spotlighted book!


England 1586.

Alyce Bradley has few choices when her father decides it is time she marry as many refuse to see her as other than the girl she once was--unruly, outspoken and close to her grandmother, a woman suspected of witchcraft. 

Thomas Granville, an ambitious privateer, inspires fierce loyalty in those close to him and hatred in those he has crossed. Beyond a large dowry, he is seeking a virtuous and dutiful wife. Neither he nor Alyce expect more from marriage than mutual courtesy and respect.

As the King of Spain launches his great armada and England braces for invasion, Alyce must confront closer dangers from both her own and Thomas's past, threats that could not only destroy her hopes of love and happiness but her life. And Thomas is powerless to help.

Death and life are in the power of the tongue.


My Review 

I do love books set in the Tudor era. The Bridled Tongue is set during Elizabeth I's reign, but this novel does not focus on any of the key figures of this era, although there are rumbling murmurs of the growing threat from the Spanish. Instead, this novel tells the story of Alyce Bradley and her rather dashing soon-to-be husband, Thomas Granville.

Initially, I thought I was reading a romance book with the traditional plot that historical romances like to follow, but this novel is so much more than a romance. It is a story rich in history and frightening in the sense that a reputation could be destroyed in an instant. Poor Alyce had really lucked out when it came to her family, resulting in the most dreadful of situations. Jealousy tears Alyce's family apart, and the situation soon escalates out of control. I don't want to give any spoilers, but it is enough to say that once started, there was no way I was putting this book down. I think it must have been around 3 in the morning when I finally finished it, but it was more than worth it. This book deserved my attention, and I willingly gave it. 

I really enjoyed every minute of this novel, and I will certainly be looking out from more books from this very talented author.


But this Book

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Catherine Meyrick


Catherine Meyrick is a writer of historical fiction with a particular love of Elizabethan England. Her stories weave fictional characters into the gaps within the historical record – tales of ordinary people who are very much men and women of their time, yet in so many ways are like us today. These are people with the same hopes and longings as we have to find both love and their own place in a troubled world.

Catherine grew up in regional Victoria, but has lived all her adult life in Melbourne, Australia. Until recently she worked as a customer service librarian at her local library. She has a Master of Arts in history and is also an obsessive genealogist. When not writing, reading and researching, Catherine enjoys gardening, the cinema and music of all sorts from early music and classical to folk and country and western and, not least of all, taking photos of the family cat to post on Instagram.

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On tour with The Coffee Pot Book Club - The Custard Corpses by M J Porter #HistoricalFiction #HistoricalMystery #BlogTour @coloursofunison @maryanneyarde

  I am on tour with  The Coffee Pot Book Club , and today's I have the utmost pleasure in interviewing historical fiction author, M J Po...