I hope everyone is enjoying a relaxing Sunday, today I am joining the blog tour for The Golden Maid and sharing an extract with you all as well to provide that little bit more temptation to purchase this great read.
I really enjoy historical fiction and jumped at the chance to read this story based in Deal which is a local town to me in 1812. Although the era is slightly earlier that what I normally read with it being based so close to home I was keen to jump in.
I really enjoyed reading this story about the smugglers of Deal and getting to know the Lennicker girls. The laws were so different in this era and the way that justice was delivered was also very different and it all added to this story and made me keen to keep reading.
A wonderful insight to how life would have been for a lot of families, I found that once I had gotten to know Winnie and Billy the pages were flying by and I was hurtling towards the end even though I had no idea how it would end up for these apparently jinxed young lovers.
Deal, Kent, 1812
Eighteen-year-old Winnie Lennicker yearns for a peaceful life as a respectable married woman. However, when she becomes involved in her family’s free-trading operations and caught by the Revenue, she is sent before the magistrates. Forced to confess that she is with child, now more than ever, Winnie is determined to give up smuggling. But the only way she can support herself and her unborn child is to carry on.
An opportunity presents itself to carry despatches on behalf of British agents and spies, and gold for Wellington’s army. Needing the money, Winnie can’t afford to refuse, but the journey across the Channel is treacherous. When Winnie discovers the despatches she’s carrying aren’t what they seem, she’s determined to right her wrongs in the hope of achieving her dream and leaving the free trade behind for good.
Available to purchase here
I am also sharing an extract with you today, to entice you further to read the story of Winnie and her sisters.
Extract from The Golden Maid
Having left the herring to rouse in salt for a few hours the same evening, it was after dark by the time Winnie went back into the hang, a small extension attached to the rear of the cottage. Using sticks as spits, she hooked the silver fish by the gills along their length, then clambered up the ladder to hang them in the dark chamber above her head where the timbers were tarred with oil and smoke from years of use. After climbing down again, she fetched a candle and touched its flame to the pile of oak shavings, coaxing them into a quiet smoulder.
She watched a curl of smoke rise into the air and snake its way around the deeply forked tails of the row of fish, transforming them into bloaters. By morning, the skins would have turned to gold and their flesh grown soft, gamey and ready to eat – just as Billy liked them.
Winnie dashed a hot tear from her cheek as she remembered their neighbour’s son, a boy with dirty knees and a twinkle in his eye, whose father had gone to sea a few weeks after he was born and was never heard of again. They’d called him ‘carrot top’ and ‘big ears’ and teased him mercilessly about his freckles and the holes in his shoes until Ma had given them a stern telling-off. Mrs Fleet, his mother, struggled to get by, and Ma used to give her their broken bloaters while Pa took Billy out fishing.
She recalled one occasion when they had returned from a fishing trip. Billy, who could only have been about nine or ten, had dragged a bucket of fish into the house.
‘It’s the best catch I’ve ever seen,’ he’d grinned, his eyes lit up with joy. ‘Mr Lennicker says I can take some ’ome to Ma to sell them fresh from the barrer.’
’Ow many ’errin’ did we bring back?’ Pa said, bewildering him.
Winnie, who was eight at the time, had known that he couldn’t count to more than the sum of his fingers and toes. She’d watched him put the basket down, put his finger to his mouth and stare towards the ceiling, thinking.
‘Well, lad?’ Pa had said.
‘There’s one missin’,’ he’d said, and Pa had roared with laughter.
Winnie had thought that Billy might burst into tears, but he hadn’t.
‘You’re a smart one,’ Pa had chuckled, and Billy had started laughing too. ‘Mrs Lennicker will l’arn you some ’rithmetic. I’ll tell you ’ow to count ’errin’ into warps, long hundreds, cran baskets and lasts.’
Billy hadn’t been entirely attentive to his studies, preferring to be down on the beach with the other shore boys than in the parlour with Ma, but he had learned his numbers and a little reading and writing.
Mr and Mrs Lennicker had taken him in when he was orphaned at fourteen by his mother’s untimely death. He had become a good companion to their father, the son he’d never had. At first Winnie had been jealous of the time he spent with Pa, but her feelings had altered, and she had fallen for him.
About Evie Grace
One of my earliest memories is of eating cherries in an orchard with my grandfather and his faithful black Labrador. I was born in Kent and lived there until my family moved to Devon, but we visited regularly, and every Christmas grandparents sent us a box of Cox’s orange pippins, each apple wrapped in newspaper. I remember seeing the oasts and hop gardens, and walking round Canterbury, throwing pebbles into the river and being scared by the sight of the ducking stool on the wall of the Old Weavers House.
After leaving school, I qualified as a vet and worked in small animal practice. I’d always loved reading, and decided to turn my hand to writing fiction. In 2002, I won the Harry Bowling Prize which was set up in memory of Harry Bowling, the ‘King of Cockney Sagas’. I met my wonderful agent, Laura, at the prize-giving and with her support, my writing career took off.
Having had fourteen books published, I began writing about the Three Maids of Kent, a Victorian family saga, inspired by the stories passed down by my grandparents and great-grandparents who lived in and around Canterbury, Selling and Faversham. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed researching the Victorian era – it’s been a real voyage of discovery, finding about nineteenth century tattoos, how to use a tinderbox and the effects of industrialisation on the rural way of life.
In between writing and working as a vet, I’ve brought up a family and looked after various pets. I’ve settled in Devon now that my children have grown up and gone off to university.
Would I have liked to have been living in Victorian times? Only as a wealthy gentleman in good health, I think!
‘Half a Sixpence’ is the first novel in a brand new series, a Victorian family saga set in East Kent. The Three Maids of Kent series follows the fortunes of three generations of women from the hop gardens and orchards of rural Hernhill and Dunkirk, to the breweries of Faversham and streets of Canterbury.
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