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Excerpt Thursday: FITZGERALD HALL by JOSEPHINE MONTGOMERY
This week, we're pleased to welcome author JOSEPHINE MONTGOMERYwith her latest release, FITZGERALD HALL, set in the 7th and 21st centuries. Join us again on Sunday for an author interview, with more details about the story behind the story. One lucky visitor will get a free ebook copy of Fitzgerald Hall - this giveaway is open internationally. Be sure to leave your email address in the comments of today's post or Sunday's author interview for a chance to win. Winner(s) are contacted privately by email. Here's the blurb.
An historical fiction adventure charts a course from southern California to the magnificent Fitzgerald estate located in southern England where archeologists discover a 7th-century bed burial grave in Fitzgerald Hall meadows. Valeska, an Anglo-Saxon teenager, is unable to join her ancestors in the next world; she knows if her bones are removed from the burial bed grave, and archeologists take them to a laboratory for study, she can never join her spirit family. It will take the co-operation of people in the 21st century and there isn’t much time. Valeska needs someone to see and believe in her spirit that appears by the baptismal font, in the Anglo-Saxon church in Fitzgerald village, between Winter Solstice, around the 21st December through December 30th.
An Anglo-Saxon poem in Fitzgerald Hall library reads,
Did the sword of Wulfhere strike the blow
That echoes through the meadows still.
Eternity won’t settle scores
When brothers of my tribe they kill.
The graves and barrows of our land
Are filled with men who did not fight
The cowards killed us in our beds
We’ll vanquish them come solstice night.
**An Excerpt from FITZGERALD HALL**
WHAT TO DO ABOUT CHLOE
“Chloe, there’s underwear and a wet towel on the bathroom floor again.”
“Sorry, Anna, I’ll get them later, I’m drying my hair.”
Anna glanced around the living room, her eyes fell on the coffee table, “and pick up the remains of your late night snack please, Chloe. That girl’s a slob,” said Anna slamming Emily’s car door shut.
“Give her time she is trying,” said Emily backing her car down the driveway.
“How much learning do you need to hang up a bath towel, it’s like living with a four year old, pick this up put that away? Chloe is lucky I haven’t strangled her with one of her long vowels,” said Anna.
“They all talk like that, Anna”
“She’s British they all talk funny, I like listening to her,” said Emily.
“And so do all the guys,” snapped Anna.
“We could ask her to give us elocution lessons,” said Emily laughing.
“No thanks,” said Anna, “we might turn in to American slobs with a British accent.”
“I’m working at the Chinese restaurant after class, I’ll bring take-a-way for dinner and we can decide what to do about Chloe,” said Emily.
Anna had finished setting the table for dinner when she heard Emily’s car door slam. Chloe’s lack of the most basic house-keeping skills were a constant source of irritation to Anna, a decision had to be made, renew the lease on the house or look for an inexpensive apartment for two.
“I’ve warmed serving dishes and set the dining room table,” said Anna, “let’s eat, I’m starving.”
Emily watched Anna carefully empty the food containers into warmed dishes and carry them into the dining room where chopsticks, serving spoons and napkins were neatly laid out on a white tablecloth. Chinese food tastes better when eaten from take-out cartons, thought Emily, preferably sitting on the floor around a coffee table.
“It’s obvious Chloe really gets on your nerves,” said Emily after dinner, “but we can’t afford a nice house like this without her rent money.”
“I know,” said Anna, “Chloe pays her share of expenses on time and if she uses the last of anything she always replaces it. I like Chloe, she has a great sense of humor and is a genuinely nice person, but it’s her ability to live in total chaos that drives me nuts.”
“Maybe her Mom waited on her hand and foot,” said Emily and that’s why she hasn’t a clue how to cook, dust, use the vacuum cleaner or do laundry. Remember St. Patrick’s Day when you asked her to chop up the cabbage and cook it?”
“I’ll never forget it,” said Anna, “that was the first time I’d eaten boiled lettuce and ham, I guess in the fridge iceberg lettuce does resemble cabbage.”
Their laughter was interrupted by the insistent ring of the doorbell.
“That’s Chloe, she’s forgotten her key again, at least it isn’t one o’clock in the morning,” said Anna.
“Sorry, forgot my key,” said Chloe. “The restaurant gave me a blueberry cheesecake it’s a bit squashed so they couldn’t use it, let’s sit round the coffee table and eat while we discuss our plans for Christmas. If you two aren’t going home for the holidays I have a suggestion.”
Chloe flung her coat over the back of a chair, kicked off her shoes in different directions and put the cheesecake on the coffee table, Anna winced as blueberries slid off the serving knife and fell in squishy, purple blobs over the glass topped table.
I hope Chloe doesn’t suggest we all stay home and cook Christmas dinner, thought Emily, Anna’s nerves couldn’t stand the mess.
“My suggestion is we all go to the Mission and help serve Christmas dinner to the less fortunate,” said Anna.
“That’s a really nice idea, Anna, but I was hoping you and Emily would accept an invitation to my home in England.”
“England,” said Emily, “we’re American university students we can’t afford the airfare to England, we’d starve if we didn’t work part time in restaurants and bring home leftovers.”
“You wouldn’t have to buy a ticket, I have enough frequent flier miles for all of us if we travel coach class. Think about it and let me know tomorrow, I need to phone Mother if you decide to accept. I’m off to bed the restaurant was really busy tonight.”
Emily and Anna looked at each other in disbelief.
“What do you think Anna, should we accept?”
“I’m not sure, we don’t know anything about Chloe’s family, she always changes the subject when we ask questions,” said Emily. “I’ve read that some people in England still live in little brick houses with a toilet at the end of the yard. Maybe Chloe swept floors with a broom and that’s why she never learned to use a vacuum cleaner.”
“You’ve read too many historical novels,” said Anna. “We can’t tell her we don’t want to live with her because she’s too messy and then accept a free trip to England.”
“Let’s sleep on it,” said Emily, we’ll decide tomorrow.”
Two weeks later the girls were packing to spend Christmas in England.
“I’ve just spoken with Mother,” Chloe shouted from her bedroom, “it’s snowing and it looks like we’ll have a white Christmas in England.”
“I don’t have snowy weather clothes,” Anna called back.
“Neither do I, said Emily, we’re California beach girls.”
“Don’t worry about it,” said Chloe, “pack a couple of casual outfits, Mother will provide the rest. Oh, I nearly forgot, she asked if you would mind sharing a bedroom, it’s a bit small but we’ll have a full house this year.”
“A little room, Mother will provide clothing,” whispered Anna, “we’ll probably be sleeping in the attic and tramping around in snow wearing Mother’s old flowery frocks. What have we got ourselves into?”
Fitzgerald Hall draws on the British writer’s knowledge of the nobility and class structure in England and their struggles to keep the Great Houses of England from falling into ruin. Living and working in both Northern and Southern California heightens the writer’s awareness of the difference between England’s class structure and the California lifestyle.