I’m getting very excited about the publication of my historical novel with Crooked Cat Publishing, which is only just over a month away. I’m also delighted with the cover, above. Between now and 29th July, I’ll publish a few short extracts, starting with the ones below.
The House at Zaronza, loosely inspired by a true story, concerns Maria Orsini, the daughter of a bourgeois family in a Corsican village at the start of the 20th century. She and the village schoolmaster carry on a secret romance, but her parents have other plans for her and she sees her dreams crumble. The novel follows Maria’s life from Corsica to the Western Front in World War I and beyond.
The first extracts are from the very beginning. Rachel Swift, a British academic, travels to Corsica to discover more about her forebears:
The ruins of the château forked into the sky above Zaronza as Rachel arrived late on a September afternoon. The sun was already dipping towards the horizon, wreathed in skeins of crimson and purple. A small knot of anticipation formed in her stomach. This was where her grandmother might have lived as a girl…
The house was one of the most imposing in the village, at the end of an alleyway. A typical Corsican house, it was foursquare and without ornament, almost severe. With its narrow windows, it resembled a fortress. A rocky pinnacle sheltered it from the sea breezes and rose up steeply to the ruined château and an 18th-century watchtower. Rachel felt a strange affinity for the place…
The room was comfortable, if not luxurious, with well-polished furniture and a double bed covered with a white counterpane. A framed picture on the massive chest of drawers drew her attention. Like the pictures in the corridor, it was a page of handwriting. The paper was yellowed and spotted with age and the ink was a faded brown. She picked it up and held it to the light.
My lovely Maria,
Why are you so harsh to me? You accuse me of flirting with other girls but you know I only have eyes for you. If I look at another girl it is only to compare her with you…
To be continued, as they say.
We will be going to Corsica again in September after a gap of two years – for the fifth time. I can’t wait.
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