With a little over two weeks to go before publication, here is another short extract from my novel The House at Zaronza. The story is set in early 20th-century Corsica and at the Western Front during World War I.
The book is loosely based on a true story, which we discovered when we holidayed on Corsica two years ago.
Rachel Swift has travelled to the village of Zaronza on Corsica in 2010 to discover more about her Corsican ancestors. She comes across some old love letters in the chambres d’hôtes where she is staying. The owner tells her what he knows of the story. Maria Orsini, the daughter of a bourgeois family had a secret romance with the local schoolmaster. They communicated via a secret letter drop.
Rachel manages to uncover a lot more of the story. In this extract, Maria – from whose point of view the tale is told – and her schoolmaster lover, Raphaël, discuss the difficulties they must face.
I learned more from Raphaël in a short time than I had ever learned at school. But, then, people considered that educating women was a waste of time. Women had to know how to run a house, to do household accounts, to sew, to cook, to raise children – above all to be content with their lot and never complain. Although Sophia’s [Maria’s best friend] views on the subject could be a little tedious, I began to sympathise with her. When I considered what the future held for me, it was with no great enthusiasm.
Raphaël and I took great precautions when we met. It would not have done for anyone to see us and tell Maman and Papa.
“Even so, I can’t see what we’re doing wrong,” I told him. After all, we exchanged only chaste kisses and sometimes he put his arm around me. Mostly we walked about on the hill and talked or sat on a rough stone bench outside the hut and watched the ever-changing light over the sea.
He sighed. “Ah, but you see, Maria, first we are of different social classes. Your parents no doubt have a better future in mind for you than a simple schoolmaster can provide. And, of course, your father and I don’t agree on a number of matters. That much was clear from our first, brief meeting.”
A chill rose up my spine. I remembered my father’s ominous words the night we came home from the mayor’s party.
More to come.
The book will be published on 29th July by Crooked Cat Publishing and is available in paperback and e-book formats from:
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