I am very pleased to welcome Marilyn Pemberton today with an excerpt from her new book The Jewel Garden. She is on tour with Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours.
About The Jewel Garden:
Publication Date: February 28, 2018
Williams & Whiting
eBook & Paperback; 388 Pages
Genre: Historical Fiction
It was a time when women were starting to rebel against Victorian conventions and to strive for their independence. This is a story of Hannah Russell’s physical, emotional and artistic journey from the back streets of the East End of London to the noisy souks and sandy wastes of Egypt; from the labyrinthine canals of Venice to the lonely corridors of Russell Hall in Kent. Hannah thinks she has found love with Mary De Morgan, a writer of fairy tales and one of William Morris’s circle of friends. But where there is devotion there can also be deceit and where there is hope there also dwells despair.
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About the Author:
Marilyn Pemberton has always worked in IT and is still a full-time project manager, but is hoping to retire very soon. At the age of 40 she decided she wanted to exercise the right side of her brain and so commenced a part-time BA in English literature. This progressed to an MA and then to a PhD on the utopian & dystopian aspects of Victorian fairy tales. During her research Marilyn “discovered” Mary De Morgan, a Victorian writer of fairy tales, amongst many other things. She became somewhat obsessed with De Morgan and as she wanted to share her research she wrote Out of the Shadows: The Life and Works of Mary De Morgan, which was published by Cambridge Scholars Publishing in 2012. Despite her intensive research there were still many gaps in her knowledge and because she just could not let De Morgan, or the act of writing, go she decided to write a fictional novel based on De Morgan’s life – the result being “The Jewel Garden.” Marilyn is currently looking for representation for her second novel, “Song of the Nightingale,” which is set in 18th century Italy and tells of two young boys who are bought from their families, castrated and then trained to be singers. The fate of the boys as castrati is an integral part of the tale, of course, but it is also a story of adulterous passion, deceit, murderous revenge, guilt and enduring love. Marilyn is now working on a third novel called “Grandmothers’ Footsteps” that will tell of four generations of women and their attempts to tell their “herstories” to a world deaf to the female voice.
Special Excerpt from The Jewel Garden:
Last night I spoke with Mary. I had not seen her for over twenty years; not since the day she died.
It had been too real to be just a dream but as in a dream I found myself walking in a garden that was unknown to me and yet seemed somehow familiar. I was not following a path, but was chasing the sound of bells whose tinkling chimes always seemed to be tantalisingly just round the corner. I walked on damp grass, enjoying the sensation of each blade tickling my bare feet. A light breeze played over my face and danced around my body, caressing my bare arms. I was only wearing a shift of a material so light and sheer I might as well have been naked.
The path was flanked by the most beautiful shrubs, shimmering with flowers that sparkled in the sunlight and filled the air with an exquisite fragrance. When I went to pluck a rose I was amazed, and yet somehow not surprised, to find that each petal was translucent mother of pearl, and the raindrop nestling inside was a diamond. I inspected other flowers and discovered that they were of sapphire, pearl, turquoise and coral.
As I wandered on, still chasing those elusive bells, each step I took was lighter and faster than the last and a feeling of peace and well-being flowed through me, as if my veins carried an elixir. My body felt young and supple again, my flesh had the plumpness of a youth long past and my joints no longer tormented me with the pain of rheumatism.
Out of the corner of my eye I kept seeing slivers of light flitting between the undergrowth but no matter how quickly I turned, there was never anything there. I came to an enormous tree, and I saw that the leaves were emeralds and the fruit it bore were rubies. As I stood in wonder a voice came from the other side.
“Hullo, Hannah. I’ve been waiting for you.”
I knew that voice, how could I ever forget it?
I walked round and there was Mary. She was leaning nonchalantly against the great gnarled trunk. She was as beautiful as when I had first met her, as when I had
fallen in love with her. Gone were the grey hairs, the lines of pain that had etched her face during her last illness, the consumptive pallor. I felt confused. I wanted both to slap and kiss her. Most of all I wanted to know why she had been so treacherous.
Before I could ask her she danced away, her laughter like a shower of musical blossom fluttering in the breeze. She was decked in an incandescent light that glittered and rippled like a kaleidoscope of mist as she darted away.
“Mary, wait for me!” I ran after her, delighting in the stretching of my muscles, the working of my lungs, the beating of my heart. “Wait for me!”
She did eventually stop just in front of a golden arch. I could not see through it clearly, but could only discern movement and hear sounds that could have been voices or bird song or the wind. Mary smiled at me and tilted her head as she was wont to do. “It is not your time yet, Hannah. Not today. It will soon be and I will see you then. We all will.” She kissed me on the cheek and then walked through the arch and disappeared.
“Mary, wait. I want to know why…” I went to go after her but my body felt heavy and cumbersome and I had no energy to move. I felt a great sadness and yearning for something I could not name. I lay down on the grass and the dew wet my cheeks like tears.
Blog Tour Schedule
Monday, June 17
Excerpt at Broken Teepee
Wednesday, June 19
Feature at Chicks, Rogues and Scandals
Thursday, June 20
Interview at Passages to the Past
Saturday, June 22
Guest Post at Book Reviews from Canada
Sunday, June 23
Feature at CelticLady’s Reviews
Monday, June 24
Review at Coffee and Ink
Tuesday, June 25
Excerpt at The Book Junkie Reads