Author: tbelshaw (Page 1 of 8)

A Short excerpt from The Reckoning. Unspoken, book 3

Alice. September 1940.

‘Don’t forget we’re all going to Old Jack Tanner’s funeral tomorrow. They’re having a special evening service to allow as many people as possible to pay their respects.’

‘I haven’t forgotten, Barney. It’s not often we get to say goodbye to a local hero.’

‘The funeral is taking place at six-thirty. It’s family only in the church but we’re all allowed to line the path from the lychgate to the front porch. I’ll be disappointed if we don’t get half the town turning out.’

I walked slowly back to the farmhouse, deep in thought. Old Jack had been almost eighty. He had part-owned a small fishing boat that was kept at Margate. During June, Jack and his younger brother, Cecil, answered the government call and had met up with the rest of Operation Dynamo’s little ships at Ramsgate where they sailed across the channel to Dunkirk to rescue our army that was  besieged there. Not satisfied with rescuing a dozen men, as soon as they had disembarked, he set off again to bring back another dozen, but on that trip, he caught a bullet in his back, a wound from which he never fully recovered.

On Wednesday evening, we arrived at the church to find hundreds of people lining the pavements waiting for the horse-drawn carriage carrying Old Jack’s coffin to arrive. Barney, Miriam, Stephen, Harriet and all of our remaining farm workers, found a place on the paved avenue that led from the lychgate to the church. By the time the hearse arrived, the crowd was three deep on either side of the path. We broke into spontaneous applause as Jack’s younger brother, Cecil, led Old Jack and his family down the hill towards the church. At the entrance, on either side, a dozen soldiers stood to attention and saluted as the coffin was carried in.

Forty minutes later, the soldiers saluted again as Jack was carried out. By now, as Barney had predicted, it seemed that half of the residents of the town were lining the pathway, or standing among the gravestones to see our own hero off.

No doubt, over the next few years, many a local hero will pass through the lychgate, or will be remembered in our prayers at the cenotaph on Armistice Day, but today was special, we buried our first.

I had managed to hold it together until, as the coffin passed us by, Stephen, our child evacuee, stood rigid and saluted as though the king himself was standing in front of him. I placed my hand on his back and wept as I thought about the fathers, husbands and sons that Old Jack had rescued and how grateful they and their families must be feeling to an old man who had done his bit. Then I thought about our farm’s own heroes, the lads who had signed up on the first day of war and had been sent off to fight and maybe die in some foreign land. We had heard nothing from any of them since July, when Benny’s pregnant wife received a heavily redacted letter, saying he was alive and well and looking forward to seeing us all again.

I’m not a particularly religious person, but as Old Jack’s coffin was lowered into his newly dug grave, I sent up a prayer to God, asking him to receive our hero into his care, then I begged him to ask his angels to keep an eye on our farm boys, wherever they were in the world.

Unspoken Book 3 The Reckoning Cover Image Revealed

I am delighted to announce that the cover for my work in progress. The Reckoning has been revealed today.

I would like to thank my fab cover artist, Jane Dixon-Smith http://www.jdsmith-design.com/ once again for the wonderful artwork.

The book, which is the final part of the Unspoken Family Saga trilogy, will be released on the Authors Reach label, in the summer.

I always like to get the cover out early, not just to generate interest in the book but to help inspire me when writing it.

 

The Legacy Publication Day

The Saga Continues

It’s here at last. The Legacy has been released on Amazon UK. Amazon.com are a few hours behind and the book will be released shortly.

The Legacy

In Unspoken, Alice is the feisty, almost 100-year-old who shares a dark secret with Jessica, her great granddaughter. She is also the naïve 18-year-old who, following the death of her father in 1938 is forced to take over the running of the family farm, whilst single and pregnant. In The Legacy, her voice crosses the decades again as she gives her take on the events leading to the start of WW2.

Jessica

Jessica is a journalist researching a novel based on Alice’s memoirs. She is in a relationship with the narcissist, Calvin. In The Legacy, we find out how that relationship has evolved and whether either of them can move on.

Martha. The Matriarch

In Unspoken we learned about Martha’s strained relationship with her mother, Alice. In The Legacy we find out much more about Martha and her motives.

Marjorie The Mouse

Marjorie is Alice’s youngest daughter. A spinster who hides behind her older sister’s skirts.

 

Nicola and Owen. Addicted to drink, gambling, and each other.

In Unspoken, Jessica’s parents have their own issues, both with Alice and Jessica. In The Legacy, their problems burst like an untreated abscess.

Bradley

The handsome lawyer with a link to Alice’s past.

Ewan

The charity worker who has been in love with Jessica since their schooldays.

Wade.

A much needed, I.T expert, but is he trustworthy?

Amazon Link

The Legacy. Who’s Who

 

The Legacy. Who’s who.

Alice… Alice? Who the f… is Alice?

In Unspoken, Alice is the feisty, almost 100-year-old who shares a dark secret with her great granddaughter. She is also the naïve young girl who, following the death of her father in 1938 is forced to take over the running of the family farm, whilst single and pregnant. In The Legacy, her voice crosses the decades again as she relates the events that lead up to the start of WW2.

Jessica

Jessica is a journalist researching a novel based on Alice’s memoirs. She is in a relationship with the narcissist, Calvin. In The Legacy, we find out how that relationship has evolved and whether either of them can move on.

Martha. The Matriarch

In Unspoken we learned about Martha’s strained relationship with her mother, Alice. In The Legacy we find out much more about Martha and her motives.

Marjorie The Mouse

Marjorie is Alice’s youngest daughter. A spinster who hides behind her older sister’s skirts.

 

Nicola and Owen. Addicted to drink, gambling, and each other.

In Unspoken, Jessica’s parents have their own issues, both with Alice and Jessica. In The Legacy, their problems burst like an untreated abscess.

Bradley

The handsome lawyer with a link to Alice’s past.

Ewan

The charity worker who has been in love with Jessica since their schooldays.

Wade.

A much needed, I.T expert, but is he trustworthy?

The Official Blurb for The Legacy, Released.

Unspoken Book Two. The Legacy.

Where there’s a will there’s a rift.

The Legacy continues the story of Jessica Griffiths and her fractious relationship with her grandmother, Martha, her gambling addicted father and her narcissistic ex, Calvin who refuses to accept that their relationship is over.

Jessica an aspiring novelist, is writing a book based on her great grandmother’s hand written memoirs. Still grieving for Alice, she receives a telephone call that will change her life, and her relationship with her family, forever.

During the process she meets Bradley, a handsome young lawyer. Calvin, meanwhile, believes he can work his way back into Jess’s life by fair means or foul.

When Martha, the matriarch, complains that she hasn’t been treated fairly, she puts pressure on her granddaughter to ‘do the right thing.’ Meanwhile, Jessica’s father returns with the loan sharks on his tail.

As Jessica prays that the ‘man curse’ which has plagued the women in her family for generations, has finally been vanquished, she meets the beautiful, calculating, Leonora, a woman with a secret and a fondness for mischief.

Unspoken book 2. The Legacy. Cover reveal.

 

I am delighted to reveal the fabulous cover for my next novel, the sequel to the family saga, Unspoken.  I’d like to thank the wonderful Jane Dixon Smith, http://www.janedixonsmith.co.uk/  for the stunning artwork. I am truly delighted with it.

The Legacy, is still a work in progress, but I hope to release the book in late March early April, hopefully on the Authors Reach platform.

The novel continues the story of Jessica Griffiths and her ongoing relationship and family problems.

 

Unspoken hits the Number One Spot.

I’m delighted to announce that my dual timeline, Family Saga novel, Unspoken has hit the number one spot in Amazon’s Women’s Historical Fiction chart.

you can download the book for FREE until Wednesday morning 30th Dec  2020, U.K. time.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Unspoken-story-secrets-love-revenge-ebook/dp/B08DKZBVDF/ref=zg_bs_4542778031_f_1?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1&refRID=R1PSBTN67YZPVZRCVM41

 

Death at the Lychgate. An Amy Rowlings Mystery

Death at the Lychgate

The parish church of St john the Evangelist sits proudly at the centre of the Kentish town of Spinton. Constructed in the twelfth century, the blue-grey church, built from local Ragstone, boasts a Norman tower that has stood unaltered for centuries, surviving minor earthquakes, violent storms, civil war and mining. Then, in the eighteen-fifties, a Victorian Alderman, aptly named, Mason Meddle, raised the funds to add a clock, a spire and a low, red brick, extension, (thankfully hidden from view behind the main structure,) that was used for Sunday School, Temperance Society gatherings and until the Town Hall was built some seventy years later, Parish Council meetings.

The surrounding graveyard is split by two paths. The first, the main walkway to the church, is a ragstone-paved avenue that leads from the church’s main gates directly to the vestibule. The second, a winding path made mostly from broken slate and gravel, is accessed from the Lychgate, a timber built, gabled, structure that has been the dead parishioner’s gateway to the afterlife for centuries.

The Lychgate, or corpse gate, was used to shelter the body of the deceased until the funeral service could take place. In years gone by, the corpse could rest there for up to two days, accompanied by friends or relatives who would sit on the hard plank seats built into the structure, sometimes as an act of vigil, but often, as a presence to ward off, the body snatchers that preyed on the poor of the district.

 

Chapter One

The early morning mist, that crawled across the land from the Kent coast, lay across the tombstones like a thin grey cloak, as a pale, almost water-colour, March sun began to rise from behind the church tower.

In the town, men slept off the excesses of their Saturday night drinking while their wives bathed a new black eye or cut lip before starting to prepare breakfast for the family. Children would be scrubbed and dressed in their Sunday best clothes before being packed off to be lectured about their heathen ways at Sunday School. Although most of the adults shunned the church, having far more important things to do on a Sunday morning, it was thought that the weekly disciplined, routine was good for the children, though there was the added benefit of getting them out of their hair for an hour.

At nine thirty, Mrs Rosegarden climbed off her bicycle and wheeled it across the pavement to the church gates. Finding them still locked, she frowned, looked at her wristwatch, then checked the time again by the church clock.

‘Villiers,’ she snorted into the misty air. The aging, but surprisingly sprightly woman, turned her bike around and rode across the pavement to the west side of the church where the lychgate entrance was situated.

The brittle haired, bespectacled Sunday School teacher was a woman to be feared, even by the toughest of the ragamuffins that attended her scripture lessons. Quick to anger and swift to punish, she patrolled the room like a prison guard. Armed with a bible in one hand and a leather strap in the other, she stalked the three, wooden benches, quoting from both testaments, threatening dire consequences, both in the present and in the afterlife for anyone who closed their ears to the word of God.

‘Drunk again, Villiers,’ she hissed as she dismounted by the Lychgate. She leaned her bike against the high, stone wall, and lifted the catch that secured the rough, wooden pole gates. Pulling them open, she looked through the gabled, porch-like structure into the mist covered tombstones beyond. She retrieved her bicycle and wheeled it over the ragstone paving towards the gravel path that led to the church.

As she strode under the roof of the Lychgate she glanced to her right-hand side where the figure of a grey haired, bespectacled man was slumped on the vigil seat. His right hand clutched the neck of an almost full wine bottle. His eyes were closed and his neck was twisted at what must have been a very uncomfortable angle. His lips were open and his teeth bared in a skeleton-like smile.

‘Reverend Villers!’ Mrs Rosegarden exclaimed. She leaned her bike against the vigil seat on the opposite side of the Lychgate, then reached out and grabbed the vicar by the shoulder. When he didn’t respond she shook him. When that failed to rouse him, she squatted down, grabbed the lapels of his grey jacket and shook him again.

As the vicar’s head slumped forward, the Sunday School teacher stood and turned in one movement. Forgetting her bicycle, she hurtled into the main road shouting at the top of her voice.

‘Help… someone help…. It’s the vicar. He’s dead.’

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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