I am so loving meeting all these new authors and their books since I have been a tour host for The Coffee Pot Book Club. Today I am hosting Virginia Crow, who, incidentally, loves cheese but hates mushrooms!!
Beneath Black Clouds and White
By Virginia Crow
Despite adoring his family and enjoying frequenting gaming tables, Captain Josiah Tenterchilt’s true love is the British Army and he is committed to his duty. As such, he does not hesitate to answer the army’s call when King Louis XVI of France is executed.
Accompanied by his wife to Flanders, Josiah finds his path crosses with a man who could not be more different from him: an apprentice surgeon named Henry Fotherby. As these two men pursue their own actions, fate and the careful connivance of a mysterious individual will push them together for the rest of their lives.
But it is a tumultuous time, and the French revolutionaries are not the only ones who pose a threat. The two gentlemen must find their place in a world where the constraints of social class are inescapable, and ‘slavery or abolition’ are the words on everyone’s lips.
Beneath Black Clouds and White is the prequel to Day's Dying Glory, which was published by Crowvus in April 2017.
Now, all three girls watched excitedly as a large joint of beef, tureens of vegetables and the plate that housed the plum pudding were brought through from the kitchens downstairs. Arabella brushed a loose stand of hair from her face as she indicated to one of the footmen the food she would like. She was a lady in miniature, having learnt a great deal from her mother in her eight years, studying each movement that she made and trying to learn from the answers and instruction she gave. This great house would one day be her own, Arabella knew, and she wished to be prepared for such a day whenever it might appear. Imogen sat with her hands on her lap as she knew she should, having been taught ready for her seventh birthday next year, but her eyes sparkled as she took in the splendour of the spread before her. Catherine covered her mouth trying to hide the excited smile she felt creep across her face and she giggled into her fingers as her father stood to carve the meat. Being only four she had a long time to wait before she would be able to share this experience daily with her parents, and to be given an opportunity midweek seemed almost as exciting as the gifts waiting in the Drawing Room.
Captain Tenterchilt, who sat at the head of the table, looked at his gathered family and smiled slightly to himself. Elizabeth, whose eyes never strayed from her husband’s, followed his gaze and felt a similar smile catch her own features as she took his hand in her own. Arabella watched on from the other side of the table, unsure whether she should take her father’s other hand but deciding against it.
“Catherine,” Imogen hissed as her younger sister picked up one of the potatoes in her hand.
“It is alright, Imogen,” her father said gently, while Elizabeth helped her youngest daughter with her cutlery. Generally, their mother would not do such a thing, but Christmas brought great acceptance and leniency within the family hierarchy.
“My dear ladies,” Captain Tenterchilt said, rising to his feet. “A very happy Christmas to you all. I shall not make a long toast, or Cat may not be able to contain her excitement.” Imogen watched as her mother frowned slightly, but her father continued. “But with the events that brew overseas this might be our last Christmas together for a time.”
“Josiah, please,” Elizabeth whispered as Imogen’s eyes filled with tears.
“War is in a man’s nature, Elizabeth,” he replied, looking around the table. Imogen kept her eyes fixed on her father as he continued speaking.
“I do not mean that I shall die, my dears, only that war does not know the holy days and festivals which we observe.”
“But, Papa,” Arabella whispered. “You have missed our last two Christmases.”
“It is the price military men must pay, my dears.”
“I hope that my Christmas miracle might be that you are returned to us for next Christmas, Papa,” Imogen whispered with great earnest. Catherine looked across at her father and nodded, unable to say anything with her mouth full of plum pudding.
“You could not wait, my little Cat,” Josiah smiled across at his youngest daughter who shook her head, giggling into her hands once more.
“Her name is Catherine,” Elizabeth whispered, looking at her own plate but seeing nothing. She loved Josiah so overwhelmingly, but she had been forced to acknowledge that, while she held the highest position in his heart, he still belonged very much to the army. Her husband had only just returned to her from his exploits in India, where he had fought in the Kingdom of Mysore. That he was already planning and anticipating his return to conflict left a bitter taste.
“Then, here is a health to my beautiful ladies,” Josiah continued, lifting his glass to them all. Arabella and Imogen copied him while Elizabeth begrudgingly lifted her glass and encouraged young Catherine to do the same. “Merry Christmas, my dears.”
“Merry Christmas, Papa,” the three girls chimed as one before Elizabeth set her own glass on the table, untouched. At once the children began eating and their mother watched as the three of them, with varying manners, enjoyed their dinner. She tried to recall the celebration of the day, and smiled at each one of her family, but could not bring herself to engage in conversation.
Virginia Crow grew up in Orkney, using the breath-taking scenery to fuel her imagination and the writing fire within her. Her favourite genres to write are fantasy and historical fiction, sometimes mixing the two together such as her newly-published book "Caledon". She enjoys swashbuckling stories such as the Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas and is still waiting for a screen adaption that lives up to the book! When she's not writing, Virginia is usually to be found teaching music, and obtained her MLitt in "History of the Highlands and Islands" last year. She believes wholeheartedly in the power of music, especially as a tool of inspiration. She also helps out with the John O'Groats Book Festival which is celebrating its 3rd year this April. She now lives in the far flung corner of Scotland, soaking in inspiration from the rugged cliffs and miles of sandy beaches. She loves cheese, music and films, but hates mushrooms.
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