18 June 2015

Excerpt Thursday: TO A STRANGE SOMEWHERE FLED by D.M. Denton

This week, we're pleased to again welcome author DM Denton with her latest release, TO A STRANGE SOMEWHERE FLED, the sequel to A House Near Luccoli. 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 copy of To A Strange Somewhere Fled. 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. 

After the sudden end to her collaboration with composer Alessandro Stradella, Donatella moves from Genoa to join her parents in a small village in Oxfordshire, England. The gift of a sonnet, 'stolen' music, inexpressible secrets, and an irrepressible spirit have stowed away on her journey. Haunted by whispers and visions, angels and demons, will she rise out of grief and aimlessness? Her father's friendship with the residents of Wroxton Abbey, who are important figures in the court of Charles II, offers new possibilities, especially as music and its masters ~ including the 'divine' Henry Purcell ~ have not finished with her yet.

Praise for To A Strange Somewhere Fled

While Donatella and her story, full as it is of such a legion of colorful characters, are vastly entertaining in their own right, often Denton’s descriptions of musical performances manage to swoop in and lift the reader up to even greater heights. Her passionate research and personal love of the art both shine through in the remarkable imagery her prose evokes, enrapturing her audience and taking them just a bit deeper into the intricacies of the 17th century setting. Irrevocable in its magic and intrepid in its storytelling, To a Strange Somewhere Fled is a fascinating and delectably original work that readers won’t soon forget.
Casee Marie Clow, Literary Inklings
DM Denton writes with a lyrical style, which swells, fades, and swells again. Her words pull her readers to the 17th century like music from that era.
Steve Lindahl, author of White Horse Regressions & Motherless Soul.
That we can meet (the composer) Henry Purcell within these pages and find him totally believable as a living, breathing human being is a mark of the author’s imaginative powers and literary skill.
Deborah Bennison, Bennison Books
Denton’s style allows for flourishes, nuances, changes in pace, and variations on themes, as music does. With delicacy and sureness, the author works with her themes of memory, love, and loss.
Mary Clark, author of Tally: An Intuitive Life

**An Excerpt from A Strange Somewhere Fled**

Donatella couldn’t make out the performers in the candlelit gallery, but recognized their muse as if it was her own. A number of Purcell sonatas—announced as so new they were yet unpublished—came to life on harpsichord, violins, and bass viols. They connected her to pleasure and pain in the same measure, speaking without words, remembering without thoughts and realizing emotions that didn’t need explanation. The best music came out of silence like love out of the impossible, made more beautiful because of loss and loneliness that never wanted company again. Only Sir Francis seemed to be listening as she was, standing at some distance but turning and nodding as though he sensed her empathy.    
            “Oh, Donata. Not here, not now.”   
            Mama dabbed Donatella’s eyes with one of the perfumed gloves she preferred to carry than wear, glancing around for witnesses.    
            “And look like you’re going to stay.” She slid the cape off her daughter’s shoulders, handing it to a page, who didn’t seem to know what to do with it.    
            The music changed pace and, as didn’t surprise Donatella, achieved more attention than the sonatas had, its composition for the soul never as popular as for the feet.    
            “I’ll sit here.” A bench of studded red leather between mirroring armor and a smoking fireplace offered to keep Donatella out of the way of the assembling dance formation.    
            “As if at a funeral,” her mother noticed.    
            The Captain slumped beside his daughter. Somehow he knew his wife was about to ask Sir Francis to be her partner, and gestured his relief and consent to him.     
            There was tapping, counting out loud and, yet an abrupt start to a galliard that had a few of the dancers and even musicians trying to catch up. What would be the consequence, beyond that evening, for those couples discovering how well or ill matched they were kicking right-left-right-left into an uncertain cadence of jumping and posturing? The repetition was broken with a few lifts and spins by some of the more athletic and audacious pairs, and the Captain pointing out more than one stumble and foot or dress stepped on, another twirl that didn’t quite happen as arms found a graceless way out of a tangle, and all those red faces caused by embarrassment and exertion.    
            Mama couldn’t be faulted. She was voluptuous and engaging, giving herself to the dance as she did to every meal and expression, smiling at Sir Francis and anyone else as though irrelevant to her enjoyment. Perhaps the Captain observed his wife’s self-sufficiency with relief, but to Donatella it seemed he was missing the woman who couldn’t imagine belonging anywhere but in his sight and approval.    
            Frivolity soon gave way to poignancy, especially to those who listened for it. A galliard was often paired with a pavane, but usually as an overture, not conclusion. The dancers were sent into a column of slow curtseys and bows, their hesitant steps retreating and advancing as they lifted on the balls of their feet and swayed side to side. A few, like her mother and Sir Francis, justified it as the peacock dance, holding an arrogant posture and using the certainty of steps, fullness of skirts, and floating of sleeves to court dignity, hands barely touching arms or backs while nods agreed on discretion. Still, a wink over her shoulder as she and Sir Francis passed near Donatella proved Mama wouldn’t allow choreography to suspend spontaneity altogether.     
            Donatella wondered about the Captain’s reaction. A little boy sat in his place.    
            “I’m glad my father pretends to enjoy himself.” He knew how to speak to her, saw Donatella’s mother approaching and ran off.    
            Mama’s cheeks were burning. She sat expansively, sweating, and exhaled noisily. Her head swayed, eyes tried not to close and upper torso fell sideways into Donatella’s lap.   
            “Mama, Mama—”   
            “Mistress Hanley—”   
            Despite the perspiration on her mother’s face, she seemed frozen in Donatella’s arms before she was passed to the Captain’s, his strength as miraculous as her mother’s recovery while he carried her where Sir Francis led. Their stuttering host cautioned the step up onto the dais where a copper-banded table displayed more pottery and silver than food, which might have caused Mama to faint again if she had noticed. Instead, she was caught up in the attention of men, hanging onto the neck of one and following the urgency of another who pushed open an enormous door into a passageway also carved out of dark and heavy times.    
            “This way.” Sir Francis turned left but Donatella glanced right and up at his young son sitting on the step of a staircase, its banister only partially constructed.    
            Quickly passing through what might have been a dining room, they entered a small parlor, Sir Francis pulling the fringed curtains closed and putting down the candle he carried before showing the Captain where he could do the same with his now wide-eyed wife. Donatella caught her mother’s feet to slip off her shoes in time to help lower her onto a caned and cushioned daybed.    
            Sir Francis turned away, using the servant who had come into the room to disguise the reason he did.    
            The housemaid listened to her master’s request, curtseyed, and was gone. He faced them to explain, “I thought something to drink and eat might help.”    
            “It usually does.” The Captain’s sarcasm didn’t lighten Sir Francis’ thoughts.    
            “What’s that, Mama?” Donatella was almost hugging her mother to hear her. “No. Papa jokes.”    
            “Julianna,” the Captain said as he went down to one knee, stroking his wife’s arm, “you act without sense.”    
            Sir Francis was obviously struggling with the scene, “My dearest lady would lie there before the severity of her illness confined her to bed.”    
            The Captain also realized the strain his friend was under. “Please, sir. See to your party.”    
            “Yes, yes. But stay, all of you, as long as you need. We could send for a doctor.”    
            “No,” Mama tried to sit up. “I just need to eat.”

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Learn more about author DM Denton

Writer and artist, DM Denton, a native of Western New York, is inspired by music, art, nature, and the contradictions of the human and creative spirit. Her educational journey took her to a dream-fulfilling semester at Wroxton College, Oxfordshire, England, and she remained in the UK for sixteen years surrounded by the quaint villages, beautiful hills, woods and fields of the Oxfordshire countryside. She returned to the US in 1990, to a rural area of Western New York State where she still resides in a cozy log cabin with her mother and a multitude of cats. Her day jobs have been in retail, manufacturing, media and career consulting, and as a volunteer coordinator for Western New York Public Broadcasting. She is currently secretary for the Zoning and Codes administration in the town where she lives. Her historical fiction A House Near Luccoli, which imagines an intimacy with the 17th charismatic composer Alessandro Stradella, and its sequel To A Strange Somewhere Fled, were published by All Things That Matter Press, as were her Kindle short stories, The Snow White Gift and The Library Next Door. She also shares her writing and illustrations on her blog.

To A Strange Somewhere Fled on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/toastrangesomewherefled?fref=ts
A House Near Luccoli on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ahousenearluccoli?fref=ts
Amazon Page: http://www.amazon.com/DM-Denton/e/B0093NWE4U/ref=dp_byline_cont_pop_book_1